Possible trial road closures in and around Brixton have sparked new controversy.
After the Loughborough Junction closures, some commercial online forums have picked up on more schemes promoted by Lambeth Council and “delivered” by the charity Sustrans.
Rosendale Road – which runs between Brockwell Park and West Norwood cemetery via the South Circular in Dulwich – and New Park Road, running nearly parallel to Brixton Hill are the areas concerned.
The New Park Road scheme came about due to complaints from parents, councillors and residents about lack of safe crossing points and the high number of accidents outside Richard Atkins primary school which is on New Park Road.
The road is used by drivers as a cut-through. There have been 12 collisions in the area in the past three years, four of them involving children under ten.
Lambeth council’s transport team commissioned “DIY Schools”, a seven-month project carried out by Sustrans, to design a scheme costing between £10,000 and £20,000 to reduce the speed and volume of traffic along New Park Road without passing on traffic problems to surrounding residential streets.
The trial would involve the creation of a “mini parklet” to prevent cars using New Park Road as a rat run, but allowing vehicle access either side of the closure and a protected crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.
In a bid to prevent blocked traffic using nearby residential streets, a three-way closure for cars, but not cyclists, would be trialled at the junction of Lyham, Dumbarton and Chale roads near the back of Brixton Prison. Left turns from Morrish road on to Brixton Hill to avoid an increase in traffic on that road will also be banned for the trial period.
A plan of the proposed trial is here.
The scheme also has a Facebook page.
Its announcement has sparked a leaflet opposing the trial and intemperate posts on online forums, including one from Debbie B: “Why are we allowing the bullying, lycra-clad psycholists to determine this, whilst the MAJORITY of other road users are just told to ‘get a bike’ … We all need to become more vocal because the psycholist lobby take no prisoners.”
Online posters opposing the scheme claim to have collected more signatures for their petition than parents did when asking for increased safety for their children.
The Rosendale Road scheme, mainly in Southwark, has provoked similar comments and posts on community forums by residents concerned about loss of parking spaces.
Campaigners also claim to have stopped a similar trial in the Norbury/Thornton Heath area of Croydon.
Philippa Banister of Sustrans stressed that the New Park Road scheme was a trial that would be assessed, initially after three months, and that local residents’ views would be sought throughout the trial period.
Initial planning had involved speaking to 200 residents and 500 parents of children at Richard Atkins, many of whom lived in the immediate vicinity of the school.
She said several crossing points along New Park Road and surrounding streets were dangerous for pedestrians because of high levels of speeding traffic and HGVs travelling along New Park Road, seeking to avoid traffic lights on Brixton Hill. Air pollution on New Park Road was also higher than in neighbouring streets.
The aim of the scheme was not to stop drivers or force people onto bikes, but to reduce the number of accidents involving collisions between cars and young children.
Banister pointed out that initial proposals for the trial changes had been “updated a number of times based on resident feedback – and still can be”.
There had been more than a dozen local meetings, as well as sessions with children and parents at Richard Atkins and residents’ groups to consider problems and explore solutions.
“Having just completed an informal consultation phase covering over 3,000 households, Sustrans and Lambeth council are now assessing the results of all the feedback and questions raised with ward members and council officers before making a decision on the scheme to be trialled for three months,” said Banister.
They would soon update residents with the results, she said. The update would summarise feedback on the trial design and would develop three options to take the scheme forward – two of which would not involve a trial closure of New Park Road or other residential streets.
Banister said the update would be “circulated extensively to the local community” – including all people who had already made contact.
Local people in the Brixton Hill ward who wanted to be added to the mailing list should contact their local councillor.
Brixton Hill councillors are Florence Eshalomi (formerly Nosegbe); Adrian Garden; and Martin Tiedemann. The latter two have been involved in the scheme from the outset.
“We will continue to seek feedback and respond to residents throughout the process,” said Banister.
The protesters have not yet replied to a request for comment.