Minutes of Quietways meeting held on Wednesday 19 August 6 – 8pm at the Francis Peek Centre, Dulwich Park
Southwark: Cllr Darren Merrill (DM), Matthew Hill (MH), Cllr and MP Helen Hayes (HH); and later Cllr James Barber (JB) and Cllr Anne Kirby (AK)
Sustrans: Hannah Padgett (HP), Kelly Clark (KC)
Residents’ Associations: Sue Badman (Dulwich Society and Turney Road – SB); Marianne Kavanagh (Dovercourt Road North – MK); Crispin and Jo Southgate (Calton Avenue – CS and JS); Trevor Moore (Dulwich Park Friends – TM); Shirley Bailey-Wood (Woodwarde Road – SBW); Louise Wood (Burbage Road – LW)
Ian McInnes and Alastair Hanton (Dulwich Society)
After introductions, SB started the meeting stating that local residents were not against Quietways, but didn’t feel they had enough information. Residents have compiled a list of questions which had been distributed before this meeting and would form the basis of the meeting discussion.
The greatest anxiety stems from the fact that Quietways – and other recent/proposed road layout changes at Melbourne Grove, Champion Grove and Loughborough Junction – are just pieces of a much larger jigsaw. How will all these changes will affect Dulwich as a whole? DM said that Southwark was not immune to thinking about knock-on effects and that ‘we are at the beginning of the beginning’ of the process.
Questions from residents
1. Why have Turney Road and Calton Avenue been selected to be Quietways when the roads are clearly not quiet? Why was there no local consultation about the choice of roads for a Quietway? Turney Road in particular was shown to be a crucial artery in the local road network when it was closed for seven weeks late 2014 for flood alleviation related works causing delays in the bus network and severe congestion in roads such as Gallery, College Road and Dulwich Village. Calton Ave is a key route in term time.
2. What is the legal position with regard to the selection of roads such as Turney Road and Calton Avenue to form a Quietway? If residents don’t want it, will they still get a Quietway?
MH said that Quietways have no legal status. The overall Quietway concept was a Mayoral strategy being funded by the Mayor. Quietways now form part of Southwark’s Cycling Strategy and the Dulwich Quietway is part of Southwark’s preferred Quietway route from Elephant & Castle to Crystal Palace. If everyone on a preferred route didn’t want the proposed changes, it would ultimately be the Cabinet member’s decision whether or not to go ahead. Quietways have no maximum or minimum standards.
DM also said that consideration had been given to alternative routes for the Quietway i) the Calton/Turney route and ii) a route through Dulwich Village & College Road. They had decided that the Calton/Turney route was more deliverable.
HP said that the proposed Quietways down Turney Road and Calton Avenue were following existing cycle routes – LCN (London Cycle Network) routes 23 and 25.
MH said that funding from the Mayor for Quietways can go over into the next financial year – certainly up to December 2016, and possibly until March 2017. TM said that money being available shouldn’t be the driving factor – it was important to get it right. MH said that he partially accepted that, although you can’t watch £2.5 million float away for the sake of getting a perfect scheme so there has to be a compromise.
HH said that there was a lack of information about the menu of possible physical interventions – do Quietways mean, for example, more lines on the street? changes to parking or how people pull out from driveways?
HP said that the initial Sustrans meetings/pop-ups that took place before the summer holidays would be summarised in an interim report and would inform the next ‘nuts and bolts’ sessions that are about to start. Residents would receive invitations by 31 August to a) three walkabouts, and b) two identical interactive workshops looking at (i) Calton Avenue, (ii) the junction of Court Lane/Calton Avenue, and (iii) Turney Road. Only (ii) would have any prior baseline concepts attached – because the junction is complex, a TfL engineer will suggest one or two designs. At the end of all these sessions, there will be c) a workshop to achieve consensus on designs that everyone is happy with. HP said she would re-circulate the outline of the consultation process, with as much flesh on the bones as possible, for those present to forward on to residents’ associations. She would also provide 20 Quietway FAQs.
JS asked who is looking at how Sustrans proposals tie in with, for example, the S. G. Smith site, changes in parking restrictions, the new hospital building, and the running of Foundation coaches. HP said that there would be a Foundation coaches meeting on 20 August, and she hoped to meet with the Dulwich Estate in the future. DM and MH both said that the new baseline designs would be examined to see how they affected other roads. JS and SBW said that residents’ experience so far is that this kind of holistic approach never happens – or that residents who raise concerns are told that it’s too late. MH said that we are at the stage of ‘pre-consultation’, and that this will be followed by all the usual stages of public and statutory consultation. HP stressed that ‘there are no designs on the table’ and that ‘you are going to create the concept designs yourselves’.
KC said that it was hard to explain what a Quietway was. It depended on what was needed in a specific location. As a guide, a Quietway joins the dots, and generally in the vast majority of cases no changes will be necessary. Each Quietway will have a Sustrans ‘route manager’ – a project co-ordinator. MH said, however, that his team at Southwark would be responsible for the actual design, but that it was likely that some of the design would be outsourced e.g. to AECOM – it would not necessarily be done in-house.
CS clarified that a Quietway has no statutory significance, but that elements of any roadworks resulting from a Quietway would be subject to legislation and statutory consultation. SB asked whether funding was dependent on specific design standards. MH said that TfL were funding the scheme, so would need to be satisfied, but there are no prescriptive ‘tick-box’ standards – it’s more a matter of designing within the spirit of a Quietway. JB asked whether a Quietway was, like the LCN routes, somewhere a 12-year-old could cycle ‘unescorted’. KC said this was a useful concept.
SB asked what changes would be likely on Turney Road and Calton Avenue if they became Quietways. HP said the key thing is ‘pinch points’, particularly caused by islands in the middle of the road, and that it makes sense to remove these islands. LW said that this was a reversal of previous policy, which was to introduce pinch points to slow down traffic. CS said that the biggest pinch point was in the alms houses stretch of Calton Avenue, where two-way traffic was impossible, and drivers played a game of ‘chicken’ – which was extremely dangerous to cyclists. LW said that she thought this was an intractable problem, and that it would be more sensible to choose a different route for the Quietway. SB asked whether the existing humps, that had successfully controlled speed in Turney Road for more than 20 years would be removed, and HP said that humps will remain unless they cause a specific problem.
3. Why has Sustrans been selected (by TfL) to conduct the community engagement, and not, say, an independent strategic consultant? Sustrans represent cyclists and pedestrians only so there is a conflict of interest. Residents are concerned about Sustrans’ anti-vehicle bias. They are concerned Sustrans will use their survey results to reduce vehicle use. Residents want to see a balanced and representative pedestrian/cycling/vehicular plan
HP and LC stressed that Sustrans had no bias towards cyclists and had been chosen by TfL because of their good record in engaging with communities and in designing collaboratively. More clarification would be provided in the proposed Sustrans Q&A document.
4. How will you ensure smooth collaboration between Southwark and Lambeth on the Quietways programme?
MH said Lambeth and Southwark operate differently – for example, Lambeth has no community councils – but that Sustrans was there to co-ordinate the cycling network and ensure an end-to-end delivery of each Quietway. HP said that she was about to publish her report about the Dulwich Village engagement on Southwark’s website, and would provide a link to this. SB said that what was needed was a project plan with targets, and HP said that she could provide this.
5. How will the two Councils make sure all local residents are fully up to speed on what's happening? It is a matter of courtesy that households should receive a personal letter from their Council explaining the strategy and consultation. Bear in mind that the consultation events will only target a small % of residents. There are many reasons: holidays, age, lack of mobility or interest, non-use of Internet or just general lack of awareness of what is going on with the roadways. Doorstep interviews and letters with free-post surveys are essential.
6. Why has the consultation been started during the holiday period when traffic flows are atypical and residents are away? How will Sustrans be certain they have got an accurate assessment?
MH outlined again Southwark’s usual process of consultation. He said that there could be changes after final designs were agreed, but they wouldn’t be substantial. DM stressed that the Council needed the help of RAs to spread the word about the walkabouts, workshops and consultation process.
JS said that residents needed reassurance that they would be listened to. There was a credibility issue, especially after what happened at Townley Road and with the S. G. Smith development.
MH said that residents were listened to on Townley Road. Ideally, the Sustrans proposal would land on people’s doorsteps and they would say, love it, go ahead, but he thought this unlikely. So the more people were involved in the process, the better. DM said that people must appreciate that Southwark will listen to objections, but that there will always be other opinions, and that what is important is consensus.
TM raised the question of whether an organisation representing a number of people counted as only one opinion or carried greater weight. MH said it carried greater weight. HP said that, in the same way, notice was taken of people’s postcodes to see who lives closest. CS asked how important the interactive map was on the website, and MH said that this was only one tool (Ian McInnes also made this point in his email of 13 July). HP said that it was important that there were many different ways of making comments.
7. What will be the impacts on parking? While many Turney residents have off-street parking, some of those in the terraced housing don’t and are concerned for the future of on-street parking. Currently there are 114 parking spaces along Turney between Dulwich Village and Croxted Road. How many spaces will be preserved and will there be any new parking restrictions? Burbage residents are concerned about parking overflow into their road. Calton Avenue residents are affected by planning and building projects at JAGS, Alleyn’s, the Smith site development, the new Charter school, Dulwich Village shops and the North Dulwich triangle all driving parking into Calton Avenue. How will Southwark ensure there is parking space available for events at the church? This is a major concern for local residents and the proposals need to be specific about reduction in parking spaces.
There was no intention to remove parking, but it was simply too early to say. Asked whether the Council had the legal power to remove crossovers, MH said he would have to check, but he thought it extremely unlikely.
8. Will there be a holistic look at the overall traffic and parking impacts in Dulwich – any removal of parking or road closures or restrictions will have a knock on effect elsewhere in the area and both Turney and Calton residents have expressed concern about this. If Quietways are likely to reduce road capacity for vehicles, what investigations have been done into the likely effects on traffic flow throughout the Dulwich/East Dulwich/Herne Hill area (but particularly the junctions of Townley Road, East Dulwich Grove/Village Way and Calton Avenue/Court Lane) in school term
SB asked about the holistic view of traffic changes. How can we guarantee that impacts will be looked at? HH said that there were two different types of co-ordination a) the impacts of the traffic changes themselves e.g. closing Loughborough Junction or Melbourne Grove and b) the construction work in terms of safety and congestion. MH said that he totally agreed about b) and that Southwark had a duty to get that right. But he felt that although Southwark had an overview on a), it wouldn’t be realistic to build one huge traffic model which could cost about £100k. HH said that she didn’t feel anyone was asking for one huge traffic model, but did feel it was fair to ask where people could go to see evidence of the Council’s analysis and overview of the impacts of traffic changes. Could there be a summary document? Or could all the documents be collated in one place? AK said people in Village Ward wanted communication about the practicalities of what was going on. MH said he would take this away and think about it.
9. The Foundation School coaches, often travelling in convoy, and serving Alleyn’s, JAGS and Dulwich College, currently use Calton Avenue in both the mornings and the afternoons. If this road becomes a Quietway, what safeguards will be put in place to ensure that there is no conflict between these large vehicles and schoolchildren cycling? Will the coaches be re-routed to reduce the congestion they cause in Calton Avenue during peak hours?
HP said she would discuss these issues at the meeting on 20 August. JB said that the Foundation schools continued to expand, with ever wider geographical catchment areas, which would mean more coaches in the future. SB asked whether school travel plans are compulsory or just nice to have? DM said it depended on the school – if the Council controls the school it can ask for a plan. JB raised the issue of whether asking for a school travel plan could be a condition of planning, and SB asked whether school travel plans, redacted to remove e.g. contact details, could be published on Southwark’s website. Later in the meeting, this was raised again – see discussion following question 27.
10. Will the junction at Townley Road and East Dulwich Grove be reviewed to ensure that there is no increased congestion?
MH said yes, and that Townley Road would be open for traffic on 2 September.
11. Has Sustrans taken account of the levels of air pollution in Calton Avenue caused by the traffic congestion?
MH said yes, there were three or four monitors in place, but that there would not be further monitoring sites along the length of Calton Avenue.
12. What is the anticipated volume of use by the less confident cyclists for this stretch of the Quietway and how have TfL and Southwark planned to track it?
MH said ‘the more the merrier’. KC said there were no monitoring plans as yet.
13. What are the plans for the cycle lane for “leisurely cyclists”? What will it look and feel like – markings, segregation?
14. What will happen to the speed humps in local roads such as Turney and Calton – they have been in place for 20+ years and have helped to reduce speed?
15. Will there be any impacts on residents’ front gardens – will there be a need to improve sightlines - stop use of off street parking, ban new OSP dropped kerbs, cut hedges or introduce mirrors?
16. Will there be any changes to road surfaces particularly the pavements? Will the kerbs be retained?
17. What about road signage – will the Quietway increase the volume of signage or can some signs be removed?
18. Is it likely that Turney Road and Calton Avenue will be closed or partly closed? If so, will residents still have vehicle access?
MH said it wasn’t possible to answer these questions at the moment. KC said that London Cycling Design Standards chapter six talks a lot about signage, and that the idea was to minimise clutter.
SBW, referring to question 18, said, so we can’t rule out road closures? MH said no. HP said, although this would be an extreme choice.
19. How will safety of all users be assured including pedestrians, cyclists and drivers? It should be noted there are on-pavement cyclists and small children scooting which already presents a danger.
MH said that the safety of all road users was important, and that a symptom of a dangerous road is people cycling on pavements. Quietways will offer a “win-win” on safety for everyone.
20. What about disabled/less mobile road users and pedestrians, and their safety? What about those who are dependent on cars, and cannot cycle or walk long distances?
MH said the Council was very aware of the needs of disabled drivers and providing appropriate dedicated parking spaces.
21. What will happen at the Dulwich Village, Burbage and Croxted junctions?
MH said that this was unknown at the moment.
22. What steps will be taken to enforce the speed limit of 20mph? The 20 mph limit is now in force and most people can see the benefits, but there are a lot of complaints about the lack of police enforcement and that it does not appear to apply to cyclists.
MH said that the current police advice was for the Council to advise them about roads where the speed limit was routinely broken, so that the police could investigate further and then potentially go on to introduce stronger enforcement.
23. If the roads are closed or partially closed, or width restrictions introduced, will HGVs be banned? What about vehicles serving building projects in local roads?
MH said if a road was closed, local people would still need to access their properties, and there would have to be consideration given to access for e.g. ambulances and deliveries
24. Will public transport be improved in tandem with the Quietway implementation? The PTAL ratings for parts of Dulwich Village are poor/low.
MH said the crude answer is no, but that the Council would work with TfL to continue to improve local transport. HP said that Josh Learner from Sustrans had asked TfL to look into improving the frequency of the P4 and 42 bus services.
25. Will the impact on local traders be assessed?
MH said the intention is to talk to local traders. HP said that the parade of shops in Dulwich Village had been the subject of a recent survey, asking whether people arrived by foot, car or bicycle, and what they thought of parking provision.
26. Dulwich Park has been excluded from any cycle 'spine' - so why is it shown as a 'Committed cycle route' in the latest strategy doc? What does that mean?
MH said Dulwich Park was already an LCN route, and in principle had been identified as part of the proposed Quietway from Peckham Rye to Brockwell Park. However, it was important to balance the needs of all park users. It would not be a good idea to have it open all the time, or for it to be lit all the time – more realistically, there would need to be an alternative route when the park was shut. TM said that cyclists should be aware of speed limits and referred to a recent collision between a cyclist and a toddler in Dulwich Park. MH said that speed limits can’t be enforced against pedal cyclists (there is no statutory legislation because there are too many technical issues and speed is not easily measured), but the police can prosecute on the grounds of ‘furious cycling’.
27. This investment is from the TfL cycling budget and awarded as a result of the Safe Routes to School bid; what action has the Council taken with local schools in order to reduce car travel?
MH said that school travel plans can’t be enforced. HH asked whether schools could be encouraged to be transparent about their travel plans. JS asked whether RAs could apply pressure? HP said she would be talking about all these issues with local schools. MK asked her to investigate not only Foundation coaches and how pupils travel to school, but also the issues of staff (and pupil) parking, delivery lorries and HGVs, and visiting coaches for e.g. sports fixture. HP agreed and said she did not see why staff members couldn’t use public transport instead of cars.
SB raised the issues in Ian McInnes’s email of 13 July to DM and asked MH to check that the Cycling Strategy document accurately showed the proposed cycling routes. SB also asked about whether there was still a planned separate cycle superhighway down Lordship Lane. MH said no, this was no longer in the current plan.
SBW expressed the need to keep dialogue going, even when problems caused disagreement between residents and the Council.
HH asked RAs to let it be known generally that she wanted to be informed about any concerns residents had about the Loughborough Road closure
JB asked whether any consideration had been given to the roads either side of Quietways - in effect, a ‘corridor’ rather than just a route. KC said, no, not at the moment, as the TfL funding was only for Quietways.
SB asked on behalf of LW whether there was any indication of a timescale for the Burbage Road Quietway. MH said that they were waiting for TfL to confirm the funding for future programmes, which could in any case change after the mayoral election in 2016
THE MEETING ENDED AT 8.15PM
Summary of action points:
1. HP will re-circulate the outline of the consultation process, with as much detail as possible, so that it can be forwarded on to local residents’ associations, together with 20 Quietway FAQs. She will publish her report about the Dulwich Village engagement on Southwark’s website, and will provide a link to this. She will also provide a project plan with targets.
2. MH will think about where people can see evidence of the Council’s overview of the impacts of all traffic changes in the Dulwich area (for example, a summary document, or collating all documents in one place).
3. HP will talk about school travel plans, and how they can be clear and openly publicised (possibly on Southwark Council’s website), with local schools. She will discuss Foundation school coach issues – conflict between coaches and cyclists if Calton Avenue becomes a Quietway, and whether coaches can be re-routed from Calton Avenue – with the Foundation schools and the Foundation School Coach Service. She will also raise more general traffic issues with local schools – staff and pupil parking, delivery lorries, HGVs, construction vehicles, visiting coaches from other schools, etc, and how this all impacts on the local area.