Friday, 23 September 2016

Mayor to face question over treacherous junction

Green Party London Assembly Member Caroline Russell is to question the Mayor over the decision by Transport for London to reject plans for a pedestrian crossing for St Leonard's junction - notoriously dangerous for pedestrians.

Ms Russell, who sits on the London Assembly's transport committee, joined local resident Barbara Hartnell, whose neighbour was killed at the junction, and members of the Safer A23 in Streatham campaign to see for herself where in just three years 31 people have been injured, seven of them seriously, and one person has lost their life.

"It was shocking to see this junction which is designed entirely for the benefit of motor vehicles while people have to take their chances looking for gaps in the traffic as there is no green man signal," said Ms Russell. 

"It is not fair that Londoners have to take their life in their hands just to get across the road. I was saddened to hear Barbara speak of her neighbour who sadly lost their life at this junction. 

"I am tabling a question to the Mayor asking him to assess this junction using a healthy street check score and revisit the decision to avoid installing a crossing in the light of the assessment."

Local resident Jonathan Bartley, who was recently elected co-leader of the Green Party, invited Ms Russell to Streatham after news broke on Wednesday that TfL has rejected proposals for a new pedestrian crossing at or near the junction. Proposals for a new crossing were displayed in Streatham Library in November 2015.

The reason given by TfL team leader for traffic infrastructure Mark Griffiths in an email answering questions from the Safer A23 Campaign is that a new crossing would cause "increased congestion to traffic beyond an accetable level". 

The Green Party's Chris Holt, an active member of the Safer A23 in Streatham Campaign, said: "This decision shows where TfL's priorities lie; they believe traffic must be kept moving - even at the cost of people's lives and limbs. We need the new mayor to change TfL's priorities. Londoners have the right to be safe on their streets."

See also for the history at this junction:

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

TfL rejects crossing for treacherous junction

News reaches us that Transport for London have rejected all proposals for a new pedestrian crossing near St Leonard's Junction - site of numerous serious accidents over the years.

At an exhibition in Streatham Library last November TfL displayed five options for a new crossing at the junction - where Streatham High Road meets Tooting Bec Gardens and Mitcham Lane outside St Leonard's Church. It is is notoriously dangerous for pedestrians, with currently no safe crossing place as it enters "the dip" down towards Streatham station.

But in a letter sent to local MP Chuka Umunna in April - today forwarded to the Safer A23 in Streatham Campaign - TfL writes:

"Traffic modelling unfortunately shows the proposals discussed at the exhibition are not currently viable, particularly in the weekday PM peak hour that was assessed. The proposals were likely to lead to increased congestion beyond an acceptable level based on the current level of traffic demand. This was a point that TfL made at the time of the exhibition. We need to mitigate for the delays for traffic, including buses, created by the potential introduction of any proposals, including the effects on pedestrians at adjacent crossings.

"In order to address this, we need to investigate a larger area of Streatham High Road and consider complementary measures so that the corridor can work reliably for all of its users.

"Our collision data over the last 10 years for this junction does not show a significant number of collisions compared to the London average. As such, we are looking at these wider measures, but this will involve a longer timescale than the programme communicated previously.

"Some proposals, which were not presented at the exhibition, have been designed to assist bus reliability. We intend to discuss these and other findings with Lambeth Council officers shortly to determine a way forward."

It is deeply disappointing that TfL continues to place a higher priority on traffic flow than on pedestrian safety in the heart of Streatham. The diffulty of crossing the High Road near this busy junction has been powerfully highlighted in this BBC news report.

The Green Party locally will continue with its long-standing campaign, with challenges over the accident data TfL is using in its assessment of the junction safety.

See also for the history at this junction:

Quietways road closure trial to go ahead

Artists impression of traffic filter at Streatham Common station
The trial closure of Estreham Road to northbound traffic is to go ahead, following results of the public consultation carried out by Lambeth Council.

Estreham Road is part of the proposed Quietway 5, providing a safer cycle route between Waterloo and Croydon. In Lambeth its route would run north from Ellison Rd along Estreham Road, under the rail bridge on Potters Lane and then onto Conyer’s Road towards Waterloo.

Currently, Estreham Road is used by over 3000 vehicles  on an average working day and is seen by some as a rat-run to avoid Streatham High Road.

During the consultation earlier this year, local residents raised concerns about access to people's homes, congestion on surrunding roads and the design and siting of the traffic filter, which will allow two-way access to cyclists. Around 56 per cent of the 139 people who responded supported or partially supported the trial closure.

In an email to residents on 31 August, Lambeth writes:

"The scheme is intended to be introduced as a six-month trial in order to assess the impact of the changes. Lambeth Council will conduct pre and post implementation monitoring during this period.

The six-month trial period will form a further public consultation period in relation to the proposals, and any representations received during this period in support or opposition to the scheme will feed into the assessment process.

At the end of the six-month trial period, the council will take a decision as to whether to make the scheme permanent (by introducing a permanent traffic order), or to remove the one-way closure. 

Construction of the scheme is planned to begin in September/October 2016. Lambeth Council will write to local residents and businesses with details of the planned works."

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Festival time in Streatham this week

It's festival time in Streatham this week, with the second Streatham Free Film Festival running from 17th-24th September and Little Big Peace, celebrating the idea and culture of peace, 21-24 September.

Both festivals are run by local volunteers and all events are free. The White Lion pub hosts he Little Big Peace event launch on 21st Sept and several films too. Other venues getting involved are Turnstyle Records, Batch and co.Coffee, Deli Lama and many more local favourites.

Green MP's solo challenge over Southern Rail franchise

In case you missed it, this was Green MP Caroline Lucas's lonely stance in support of long-suffering Southern Rail commuters when she called on ministers to strip franchises from the failing rail company.

On 13 September she was the sole speaker from the opposition benches in the house of Commons. 

People using Streatham, Streatham Common and Streatham Hill stations, are among thousands who are suffering deteriorating services, delays and cancellations while the rail company reports profits of nearly £100m.

Transport minister Paul Maynard criticised the recent industrial action, saying Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) - the company Southern Rail works under - was forced to cut services.

But Green MP Caroline Lucas hit back saying many of the guards she had spoken to were striking “very reluctantly” and were only doing so because they “genuinely believed there are safety concerns with driver-only operation”.

Later Lucas joked in a post on Twitter: "If only it was this easy to get a seat on @southernrail"

The Huffington Post picked up Lucas' lonely efforts. You can read its report here.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Mayor urged to be more transparent over Streatham Crossrail 2 “let down”

News Release 
Caroline Russell
London Assembly Green Party Member

Mayor urged to be more transparent over Streatham Crossrail 2 “let down”

Caroline Russell has called on the Mayor of London to be more open about why a Crossrail 2 station will not be built at Streatham.

At the London Assembly Transport Committee meeting on 13th July 2016, the Deputy Mayor for Transport said that consideration for a Crossrail 2 station at Streatham “was ruled out some years ago.”

Caroline Russell said, “The people of Streatham deserve to know why, yet again, they have been let down when it comes to crucial transport investment. Streatham has already missed out on the Bakerloo and East London Line extensions, on Tramlink, on the Victoria line and Northern Line spurs, on the Overground and on Trams.

Streatham Common is the 6th busiest on the Southern Rail network, and Streatham stations which are at capacity in rush hour won't support the expected population growth.

A Streatham Crossrail 2 station would cut congestion and pollution on local roads - including the dangerous A23 - improving the quality of life for local residents.

I’m calling on the Mayor to be more transparent and to release all modelling work relating to Streatham to Lambeth Council and to Streatham Action’s transport group, as soon as possible.”

Editors Notes

Caroline is available for interview

Caroline Russell was elected as a Green member of the London Assembly in May 2016. She has been a councillor for Highbury East ward in Islington since 2014. 

The written question is available here, and the answer will be provided within one week of the meeting:

The Story in Lambeth

Green Cllr in Lambeth, Scott Ainslie, asked fellow Green, Caroline Russell to ask this of the Mayor as attempts by the community voice for Streatham, Streatham Action, have been thwarted.

Cllr Ainslie & joint Green Party leader, Jonathan Bartley, have been long term campaigners for improved public transport links to Streatham. They met whilst serving on the board of Streatham Action - the community voice for Streatham.

Within months of being elected, Cllr Ainslie called a public meeting to bring all political parties and community groups together to hear what the people of Streatham wanted. They knew that people were tired of professional politicians promising to improve rail/tube/tram links to Streatham during every election campaign only for the issue to disappear until the next election cycle.

The meeting was held in July 2014 and was chaired by life longer transport campaigner, John Stewart. The panel included representatives from all political parties including Darren Johnson (Green GLA).

The people of Streatham agreed overwhelmingly that the matter of improved public transport infrastructure should be driven forward by Streatham Action - which would work on a cross and/or non party basis.

further meeting of Streatham residents, senior local politicians and Council officers in June, 2016 asked for the Mayor and secretary of state for Transport to do a proper, up-to-date assessment of the needs of Streatham, as it came to light that the evidence CR2 had used to base their decision was outdated and did not take into account the 'Streatham Factor' i.e. population growth and station entrance/exits up by over 50% in 6 years. The assessment they made used data from 2009.

Quote from Cllr Ainslie'Streatham has been overlooked for major public transport infrastructure improvements since 1926. The A23 is one of the most congested and polluted route in London. To ease the loading of the Northern Line at Tooting and Balham and Victoria Line at Brixton by Streatham residents, we need CR2 to pass through here. There is a site ready for development and the public support it. It's time the Mayor was open and transparent about the selection process for the route of CR2 in South London.'

Friday, 9 September 2016

Streatham and Brixton Hill bus lanes - have your say.

Transport for London are consulting on proposed changes to bus lanes on Streatham Hill and to buslanes and some junctions on Brixton Hill.

The deadline for giving your views is September 14th and it's very easy to do so on line.

See Streatham Hill plans here.
See Brixton Hill plans here.

Lambeth Cyclists are disappointed the opportunity is not being taken to introduce segregated cycle lanes on a busy cycle route between Streatham and Brixton. Other road-users, including pedestrians, parents with buggies and wheelchair users may be concerned at the proposed reduction in pavement space on Brixton Hill.

Whatever your view, have your say by Wednesday, September 14th.