Broadway bottleneck, May 2003

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The Transport Forum provided some valuable insight into the community view of sweeping road changes proposed for The Broadway in a well-attended debate at St Mark's. The proposals - funded and jointly supported by London Borough for Merton and Transport for London - envisage the construction of a contra flow cycle lane running south-north up The Broadway and aimed at improving cycle access to the station and improved pedestrian facilities. Critics argue that since the scheme would result in the closure of one of the present two lane traffic flow southwards from the station, it will inevitably result in heavy new traffic congestion in the whole area - while statistics indicate that less that one per cent of station-bound traffic involves cyclists.

After a debate by a panel of experts drawn from both sides, the audience was invited to join in the consultative process organised by the Council and TfL into the advisability of the scheme and a record was kept of the results. These were passed on, by prior arrangement, to John Lee, the scheme organiser at TfL, and to Ray Puddy of Street management in Merton.

In summary, the majority of people present were against the scheme. Improved zebra crossings were welcomed, but the floor did not see the need for additional ones. People also thought that many of the benefits of the scheme could be achieved by opening up the station at the northern end obviating the need for the significant bicycle measures proposed. A 1.0m contra flow cycle lane was felt to be dangerous, especially when the recommended width is 1.5m. People were also sceptical about how through traffic could be discouraged at the expense of local traffic, but in general agreed that reducing traffic dominance was a good thing. The consultation leaflet was felt to be very poor, and given the mistakes coupled with the congestion caused by the recently introduced Alexandra Road junction scheme, people were sceptical about the accuracy of the modeling for this scheme, in particular, what sensitivity analyses had been performed to gauge the viability of this new scheme.

Results of feedback and poll - sent to TfL for inclusion in their consultation

In summary, the majority of people present were against the scheme. Improved zebra crossings were welcomed, but the floor did not see the need for additional ones. People also thought that many of the benefits of the scheme could be achieved by opening up the station at the northern end obviating the need for the significant bicycle measures proposed. A 1.0m contra flow cycle lane was felt to be dangerous, especially when the recommended width is 1.5m. People were also sceptical about how through traffic could be discouraged at the expense of local traffic, but in general agreed that reducing traffic dominance was a good thing. The consultation leaflet was felt to be very poor, and given the mistakes coupled with the congestion caused by the recently introduced Alexandra Road junction scheme, people were sceptical about the accuracy of the modeling for this scheme, in particular, what sensitivity analyses had been performed to gauge the viability of this new scheme.

The straw poll asked some additional questions about aspects of the scheme and other alternatives to gauge the reaction of those attending on these specific measures. On the original questions, it was pointed out from the floor that they are so "apple pie" it is very difficult to say no to any of them, and they do not relate to the specifics of the scheme.

All the panel were part of the team that prepared the study, therefore, their input is already known. The panelists' reasons for the scheme, other comments and answers to questions from the floor, will be collated as a general summary of the Transport Forum and be posted to the Wimbledon Civic Forum web site by the end of the week.

London Buses were not represented on the evening and the impact on bus services was only barely covered. However, this aspect was considered briefly in terms of the potential for increased congestion the scheme would bring. The impact on longer bus journey times through slower speed limits, and disadvantageous traffic light timings was not debated. Likewise, neither was the impact on taxi ranks.

There were 62 people present as well as the Chair and panel, 66 in total, and 51 were present at the end for the poll. The results are as follows (don't knows and abstentions excluded):

1. Will scheme benefit the town: Yes: 17 No: 22
2. Improved pedestrian crossings: Yes: 46 No: 4
3. More cycle measures: Yes: 11 No: 31
4. Less traffic dominance: Yes: 43 No: 1
5. Are you in favour of scheme: Yes: 10 No: 27

The following five questions arose from comments from the floor (see Points below for details)

6. Contra flow cycle lane: Yes: 11 No: 28 (Points 3 and 7)
7. Replace zebra crossing not extra: Yes: 29 No: 1 (Point 9)
8. Additional 20 mph limit: Yes: 32 No: 1 (Point 15)
9. Access at other end of station: Yes: 47 No: 0 (Point 19)
10. With flow cycle lane: Yes: 11 No: 10 (Point 20)

Specific points raised from the floor (constructive criticism):

1. More bicycle parking could be provided at existing car parks as well as at the station
2. Cyclists can't take their bikes on trains in the morning and evening rush hours, therefore, demand will never be substantial
3. Was a safety case /assessment prepared for the proposed contra flow cycle lane?
4. What confidence is there in the new scheme when Alexandra Road light changes have phase of 112 seconds from 82 seconds (and only 5 seconds is needed for the safety phase so why not 87 seconds) resulting in longer waits for pedestrians?
5. The bottlenecks and queues on periphery - potential gridlock: will have a negative impact on cyclists and pedestrians
6. Will cause further traffic to come down Trinity Road, a residential road: traffic should remain on the main road. What are the alternative routes proposed for traffic that will seek to avoid the town centre
7. Why is the contra flow cycle lane not the recommended 1.5m wide - 1.0m is too narrow
8. What survey was undertaken of the retail community as many shoppers are oap's who need to get to town by car
9. Discouraging people driving to town will damage the retail community: town centres can die
10. No need for an extra zebra crossing 10m from the existing ones on Wimbledon Bridge, junction with Hartfield Road, when no bus routes stop on the inside pavement of the one way system
11. The proposed additional zebra crossing will eliminate the current filter flow of traffic alternating between Hartfield Road and Wimbledon Bridge onto the Broadway resulting in increased journey times and more congestion
12. Consultation leaflet is appalling: the questions are so general it is hard to say no to any of them. Also, given the mistakes on the leaflet, no confidence in TfL or Merton to get the scheme right
13. Shopping Street is a main road - cyclists don't want to go on the main road
14. Cycle lanes will slow down buses
15. Enforcement: The existing 20mph limit is not enforced, neither are the yellow lines
16. People do not drive through Wimbledon as a short cut to avoid the M25 / A3
17. How can you discourage through traffic whilst not discriminating against local residents?
18. Why was the Wimbledon Pedestrians' Association not consulted when drawing up this scheme?
19. Why can't additional access be opened up at the north end of Wimbledon station with a bridge between Alexandra Road and Queens Road and provide secure bike storage there?
20. Why is there not a with flow cycle lane around the gyratory rather than the dangerous contra flow cycle lane and it could be shared use?

What a pity these questions haven’t been followed up more quickly! See for example number 19.

Please can we have acknowledgment of feedback received by the council in future.

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