Enfield Council's plans to install cycle lanes along the A105 are again being challenged, this time by Conservative councillors, who have "called in" the decision by the Cabinet Member for the Environment, Councillor Daniel Anderson, to implement the proposals as set out in the Statutory Consultation earlier this year.
Under the Call In procedure the Conservative group is asking the Council's Overview & Scrutiny Committee to refer the decision back to Cllr Anderson, demanding that he hold a public enquiry into objections relating to bus lanes and waiting and loading restrictions and at the same time reconsider the objections to the scheme that were received during the Statutory Consultation phase. They contend that the decision was made too quickly and objections were not considered sufficiently thoroughly.
The Call In will be discussed at the next meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 8th September (7.30pm at the Civic Centre). Links to relevant paperwork are below:
Report on the Statutory Consultation
Cllr Anderson signed off the decision to proceed on 17th August on the basis of a recommendation made by the Director of Regeneration and Environment, Paul Rogers, following analysis of 1600 objections to the scheme (some relating to its entirety, others to specific aspects or locations).
Mr Rogers' report (see the link in the box above) lists and responds to each of the objections (obviously, not all 1600 individually, as there was considerable duplication), concluding that, on balance, none of them is sufficient grounds to modify or cancel the scheme. However, there has been one change from the proposals as previously published: there will no longer be a two-hour time restriction in all of the free parking bays along the residential section of the route.
Familiar objections and familiar responses
The objections in principle to the scheme and to its main features are by now very familiar, and the same is true of the council's responses, so I won't repeat them (having said that, the report summarises the arguments on both sides very succinctly and elegantly). There is some new and interesting material: the inputs from the emergency services, the arrangements for Blue Badge holders and some of the detailed objections to the design at specific locations. I've extracted the detailed points relating to Palmers Green (as far north as Sainsbury's) and you can read them in the box at the end of this article.
The Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade have both indicated that they are content. There was no formal objection lodged by the London Ambulance Service, but it did register general concern about road widths. However, the nature of "light segregation", as opposed to the more substantial segregation along eg the Victoria Embankment, will make it possible for vehicles to drive in the cycle lanes when necessary.
The report makes it clear that the traffic orders will allow for circumstances in which it is quite appropriate for motorised vehicles to enter the cycle lanes. These include dropping off and picking up Blue Badge holders, even when this takes some time. The council will also be making further provision for disabled parking, set out in some detail in the report.
Arriva Buses objected to the removal of some lengths of bus lane where the road is rather narrow, and this has been seized upon by the chief anti-cycle lanes campaigners. As a bus user myself, I'm unhappy about this, but clearly balances have to be struck. However, I anticipate that there will be gains for buses in other places because they won't be stuck at bus stops waiting while cars overtake without letting the bus out, as is the case at present (long bus stop "dwell times" are as much to do with selfish car drivers as with passengers getting on and off).
In any case, Arriva run buses under contract to TfL, and it is TfL that is the prime mover for all the Mini Holland schemes.
There were a few points in the decision report that disappointed me, where I had submitted objections myself, but these were all rejected:
- No 20mph limit through town centres
- No pedestrian phase at the Green Lanes/Bourne Hill/Hedge Lane intersection on the grounds that it would case traffic congestion
- No pedestrian phase at the entrance to Sainsbury's car park, on the same grounds. But I was pleased to see that the objection to traffic lights here was rejected.
The person(s) objecting to the Sainsbury's traffic lights claimed that there are "no perceived benefits for the majority of road users" - in other words, car drivers. The fact that pedestrians and cyclists trying to cross the car park entrance on their way to Winchmore Hill are in mortal danger is clearly of no concern to some people, because we are only a minority. The traffic lights will hopefully make the crossing slightly less hazardous.
A couple of final thoughts.
I wonder how many of the people now using loss of bus lanes as an excuse to try to stop Cycle Enfield objected to the bus lanes being put there in the first place.
I'm very pleased to see that Save Our Green Lanes are so concerned about air quality. However, I'm still waiting for them to call on their supporters to do their bit for air quality by driving less and driving smaller cars.
Objections relating to specific places in Palmers Green
Extracted from the Report discussed in the article
Objection that 'The Triangle' has not been merged into the footway space and t-junction created at Aldermans Hill which would have created a more enhanced area of public realm.
The concept design at the bid stage proposed the removal of the triangle island. However, a number of objections were raised against the removal of Palmers Green Triangle so the Council made the docision to take forward the option which retains the Triangle based on the objections at the time.
Objection to increased opening hours to Lodge Drive Car Park on the grounds that this will generate anti social behaviour (as previously experienced).
The upgraded and expanded car park is proposed remain open later into the evening to support the evening economy in Palmers Green. Access controls will be introduced so that vehicles cannot enter the car park after a specified time, but those already in the car park will be able to exit. This, together with amendments to the car park design, improved lighting and CCTV should ensure that past problems with anti-social behaviour do not recur.
Objection to the retention of taxi rank on Alderman's Hill. believed to be superfluous.
Taxi ranks are a vital part of the transport network and help ensure that taxi services can meet passenger demands. More than a third of taxi journeys completed in London each year originate from a taxi rank. Ranks are also of particular importance to passengers with mobility issues or those starting their journey in suburban areas. As a result the proposals look to retain the taxi rank in the vicinity of the station and the Palmers Green triangle, which are considered key trip generators.
Proposal for contraflow cycling along Devonshire Road based on the perception that this will be dangerous.
The conversion of one-way roads to two-way working for cycling is recommended in the London Cycle Design Standards, with the following extract taken from the standards. 'Unless there are over-riding reasons not to, there should be a presumption that contraflow cycling should be provided in any one-way street' This arrangement is already in place at several locations throughout the Borough with no reported problems.
Objection to the route going along Palmerston Crescent on the grounds that it will have a negative impact on residents.
The proposed route will not result in loss of parking on Palmerston Crescent, cycle logos will however be provided along the road to highlight to all road users that it is a designated cycle route.
Objection to the re-alignment of the Triangle on the grounds that it will create difficulties for westbound traffic turning right into Devonshire Road.
The re-alignment of the traffic island at Alderman's Hill will not affect westbound vehicles turning right into Devonshire Road. In both the existing and proposed situation there is a single eastbound lane passing Devonshire Road, which then flares to two lanes on the approach to Green Lanes.
Objection to the lack of formal pedestrian crossing points at the proposed traffic signals at the entrance to Sainsbury's store.
Traffic controlled pedestrian crossings were considered at this junction. However, the modelling assessment showed that the introduction of signalised crossings would have a significant impact on the network resilience and would result in significant queues and delays to general traffic and the bus routes along the corridor. Therefore, based on the need to maintain network resilience pedestrian crossings could not be implemented at this location.
Objection to the merging of the two zebra crossings by Sainsbury's store. The objector suggests that this decision seems to have been taken in order to try and maximise delays for other road users.
Based on site observations the predominant movement between the bus stops is to and from the Sainsbury's store. The existing arrangement of the southbound bus stop and zebra crossings is therefore away from the pedestrian desire line. The proposed bus stop arrangement improves the pedestrian desire line for people travelling between the store and the southbound bus stop.
Objection to the installation of traffic signals at the entrance to Sainsbury's store on the grounds that there are no perceived benefits for the majority of road users.
Left hook collisions — where a motor vehicle turnina left hits a cyclist — were involved in nine or Lonoon s rourreen cycling deatns in 2013. he access to Sainsbury's has a high volume of left turning vehicles as well as HGVs accessing Sainsbury's. The signals have been introduced primarily to remove the left hook conflict but it also provides dedicated time to the Sainsbury's exit to allow vehicles to exit onto the A105.
Objection that there is nowhere to park for disabled visitors to Gillian House Surgery at 457 Green Lanes, N13 4BS.
Access to the off-street parking at Gillian House would be retained as part of the scheme, with the current off-street parking restriction associated with the surgery retained.
Parking is available on the eastern side of Green Lanes between Park Avenue and Osborne Road, as part of the proposed scheme, as well as the existing side road parking off the A105.
Under the proposed scheme blue badge holders would be permitted to pick-up and set-down within the mandatory cycle lanes. Blue Badge guidance states that when you are being carried as a passenger, or when you are being set-down or picked up, the driver is allowed time to accompany you to your destination, including taking you into premises near to the vehicle. Tho Blue Badge should be displayed when this happens.
It should also be noted that current guidance for Blue Badge holders restricts parking where there is a dropped kerb, which forms a large section of the western footway in the vicinity of Gillian House currently and these dropped kerbs would be retained as part of the proposed scheme.
On an experimental basis, the Council will now also introduce an on-street dedicated disabled bay as part of the high street parking bays opposite the surgery.
Objection to the upgrade of the informal crossing point by St Monica's Church to a zebra crossing. The objector acknowledges that it would create a safer crossing facility but objects on the basis that zig zag lines utilise space that could be otherwise used for car parking.
Given the need to remove the existing advisory crossing island to accommodate the cycle lane and feedback from the public consultation, it was considered essential to retain a crossing provision in this location, given the proximity to St Monica's Church.
Objection to prevention of southbound vehicles using the slip road from the A105 into Hedge Lanes. It is perceived that this restriction will create difficulties for left turning HGVs and put pedestrians at risk.
Left hook collisions — where a motor vehicle turning left hits a cyclist—were involved in nine of London's fourteen cycling deaths in 2013. The left turn has been relocated to within the junction, to prevent left turn hook collisions occurring between ahead cyclists and left turning traffic. The traffic islands on Hedge Lane have been relocated east of their existing location to allow HGVs to safely make the left
Objection to the lack of signalised pedestrian crossing points at the Hedge Lane / Green Lanes junction.
Traffic controlled pedestrian crossings were considered at this junction. However, the modelling assessment showed that the introduction of signalised crossings would have a significant impact on the network resilience and would result in significant queues and delays to general traffic and the bus routes along the corridor. Therefore, based on the need to maintain network resilience, pedestrian crossings could not be implemented at this location.
In the existing situation the time between the Green Lanes traffic phase terminating and the side roads receiving a green is 13 seconds. In the proposed situation there will be a period of 20 seconds where only cycle movements are permitted and the general traffic is held, where pedestrian could cross to the central islands or across the entire width of the carriageway.
Objection to the removal of the crossing just south of Hazelwood Lane on the grounds that pedestrians will continue to cross the road at this location which will be dangerous and create congestion.
The signalised crossing south of Hazelwood Lane has been relocated north as it is currently below the latest design standard regarding the proximity of a side road (Devonshire Road) to a crossing. The crossing to the north is offset further from a side road and also increases the amount of parking on the high street.
Objection to me proposal for a t-junction at Fox Lane on the grounds that it will create tailbacks along Fox Lane and encourage 'rat running'.
The replacement of a roundabout with a priority junction has been proposed to better protect cyclists through the junction, as recommended in the London Cycle Design Standards. The proposed priority junction will also reduce delays on the A105, which will benefit buses and general traffic. Post implementation monitoring will be carried out and mitigation implemented, where appropriate, should rat running be an issue.