The trial West Greenwich LTN is an extreme solution for a 2-hour problem
Council monitoring data demonstrated that the traffic issues across the West Greenwich area were not limited to a couple of hours peak travel times. Crooms Hill was at gridlock at any time during weekdays and weekends with 6,000 vehicles per day, 600 in a single hour. The evening peaks were especially high volumes starting from as early as 2pm (school runs) through to 7:30pm. Burney Street, Hyde Vale, Point Hill and West Grove via Winforton and Maidenstone Hill had extreme traffic (350 per hour) during the afternoons and evenings.
This Low Traffic Neighbourhood is being trialled as a result of safety issues across the whole area and specifically school streets and safe access to the Park by locals and visitors alike and to encourage modal shift. The Metropolitan Police requested that action be taken due to safety concerns.
Recent East Greenwich Congestion is due to the West Greenwich Trial
We are concerned for our East Greenwich/Westcombe Park neighbours who are suffering with excessive traffic on Maze Hill, Vanbrugh Hill and Westcombe Park Rd. West Greenwich suffered for years with excess traffic and we are aware that East Greenwich/Westcombe Park have requested their own LTN and the Council has commenced engagement on a proposal in February 2021.
This combined with the congestion on through-streets in East Greenwich from 7th September, a perfect storm which coincided with the start of TfL Cycleway works, first day of school and return to work after lockdown.
Cycleway works are extensive and are being undertaken within East Greenwich including the temporary closure of Vanburgh Hill northbound, temporary traffic lights and works on long stretch of Woolwich Road and Trafalgar Rd and at Angerstein underpass. Works are also ongoing on A207 Shooter Hill. Worst of all, it is already not possible to join the A102 northbound from the Angerstein Roundabout. In addition, A2 is reduced to single lane at Danson Road for the next 4-5 month through to February or March 2021. These are causing complete gridlock in Charlton, Plumstead and in the tunnel approaches vicinity including East Greenwich.
There are also over 60 LTNs being implemented simultaneously in London. LTNs within Lewisham borough in Lee and Blackheath for instance have an impact on traffic trying to access Blackwall Tunnel.
Also since the pandemic car usage has increased by up to 60% as people avoid public transport and demand for deliveries rocketed. TfL reported that on 7th September, people using Tube was only at 32% of pre-lockdown levels and 54% on buses. Road capacity is at 90%. The timing for the West Greenwich LTNs is controversial but this is an area that has had a lengthy engagement and consultation process; has had well documented excessive safety risks with three school streets and the Police have asked for remedial action. Many West Greenwich residents support the trial LTN - we are the last area to receive robust measures and given so many other local roads have received similar piecemeal measures which have gone unnoticed, unchallenged and would remain in situ?
Where is all the traffic going?
The different areas are vulnerable in different ways. West Greenwich traffic was mainly from rat running vehicles coming off and re-joining on the A2 to avoid the slow section of Blackheath Hill west of Greenwich Park. East Greenwich and Westcombe Park are vulnerable to traffic accessing Blackwall Tunnel. Maze Hill’s congestion since 7th September is mainly in the morning peaks; East Greenwich residents have commented that Maze Hill was regularly congested up to Vanburgh Castle in the peak since Park Vista was fully closed late 2019 and Woodland Crescent and Greenwich Park Road before that. These piecemeal LTN-style closures leave through roads such as Maze Hill, Vanburgh Hill, Westcombe Park Road more vulnerable to changes in traffic levels. There is also very short traffic light sequencing at the bottom of Maze Hill which only allows 3-4 vehicles through per cycle, despite free flowing Trafalgar Rd., which causes long periods of standing traffic and pollution.
Crooms Hill had high volumes in both peaks and Point Hill and Hyde Vale in the evenings. The area would have been affected by the closure of the Greenwich Park to through traffic, although most residents would likely support this decision for the safety of park users if asked. Through the West Greenwich LTN, West Greenwich has been protected from this and we support RBG in its pledge for a Greener Greenwich and to undertake a holistic review of East Greenwich and beyond.
I need to use my car
Everywhere is still accessible to everyone by car. Journeys may be slightly longer but many gladly accept the 5-10 minutes of inconvenience if they need to drive for the significant health and safety benefits for residents, school children on our three school streets, cyclists, and locals and international visitors to the historic sites of Greenwich, Greenwich Park and the Town Centre. The trial is to encourage modal shift as we see more families on bikes and people are reporting they are reconsidering getting in their cars for local journeys.
It is great to see Greenwich and Blackheath communities supporting the businesses as always on Royal Hill and Nevada Street and the Town Centre with many arriving on foot or cycle.
The trial West Greenwich LTN was not consulted
This is a perplexing claim. As well as undergoing several years of open, public and holistic engagement involving Council letter drops, a workshop, meetings with residents, a borough-wide survey in late 2019, this trial, formerly known as the West Greenwich Liveable Neighbourhood scheme, was supposed to have been implemented just as the country went into lockdown. It was also widely publicised on local blogs and through the Greenwich Society. Crooms Hill is also an integral part of RBG’s local cycle network.
Please see Working With Greenwich Council page.
Cyclists can just use the Park
Crooms Hill is an essential commuting route for cyclists particularly in the evening peaks when Greenwich Park closes by 6pm October to March of each year. There were often hairy moments as large vans and cars fight for space on this narrow street. Commuting cyclists often also prefer to use Crooms Hill rather than The Avenue in the Park as there is a lower risk of children, pets or squirrels stepping out into their path.
The trial LTNs favour the affluent
A recent study of LTNs across London by Westminster University determined that LTNs do not disproportionately benefit more privileged communities, rather "people in the most deprived quarters were 2.7 times more likely to live in a new LTN area than the least deprived quarter of people."
Closer to home, the West Greenwich and East Greenwich LTNs, past and present are about safety for residents and keeping through traffic on the strategic road networks which are designed for and designated to take greater traffic volumes and larger vehicle size and loads.
West Greenwich is a mixed area socially and RBG has publicised that West Greenwich is the last area to receive robust traffic measures.
There have been existing "LTNs" throughout Royal Borough of Greenwich for years, not just in areas considered to be more affluent such as East and West Greenwich, Westcombe Park and Ashburnham Triangle but also Abbey Wood and Plumstead. Many of these measures were implemented on a piecemeal basis over many years whereas West Greenwich was left exposed with very few modal filters.
West Greenwich has been late to the game as a holistic solution was preferred despite its many complexities and RBG is finally addressing this need.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods stop emergency services getting to people in need
The Chairman of London Ambulance Service, Heather Lawrence, stated that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have not delayed emergency services response and LTNs are good for people's health. This has been supported by letter form 120 doctors in support of the rollout of LTNs and Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital Trust donating £250,000 to London councils for LTNs. Please see more on the Support & More Info page.
Access to the West Greenwich streets is unchanged as emergency services have access via a key to the the modal filters; previously this was a key to padlock on the width restrictors.
I am being prevented from driving my children to school
All roads are still accessible to anyone who prefers or needs to drive. TfL indicated that a third of all car journeys by London residents are less than 2km (1.25mi) and under 20 minutes. LTNs are to encourage modal shift and decrease our reliance on cars so there is more road capacity for those who must drive.
We are aware of many families with 1-4 young children in the area who walk, cycle and/or scoot the 2-3 km per journey to and from Blackheath rain or shine and they talk about how their kids generally enjoy it and it sets them up well for the school day ahead. Equally, many from Blackheath, Kidbrooke and further afield who now leave their cars behind to visit the shops on Royal Hill and eat in the Town Centre.
By not allowing traffic to cut through West Greenwich and rejoin the A2, Blackheath Hill residents will suffer more pollution
The A2 section on Blackheath Hill where the road reduces from two lanes to one lane has caused a hold up for decades. However, once through this section the traffic is moving faster on the brow of the hill and beyond. This in turn will move the traffic off Blackheath Hill more quickly as a result of the trial. There is no stopping and starting as large volumes of traffic are no longer joining from Point Hill, Hyde Vale or Crooms Hill
It may be for this reason that, despite a 17% increase in morning peak westbound traffic volume on the A2 since the first lockdown, a year-on-year comparison of pollution on Blackheath Hill in Quarter 4 of 2018, 2019 and 2020 suggests that Nitrogen Dioxide levels were lower in 2020 than the previous 2 years. (Data Source: London Air). Please see image below which compares daily mean data between October 2018 to December 2020.