At the first Lend Lease Regeneration Forum meeting (see http://www.elephantandcastle.org.uk/ for more details), Eleanor Kelly, deputy chief executive of Southwark Council revealed that TfL’s Network Assurance division, tasked by Boris to “smooth traffic flow” in London, has vetoed any change to the northern roundabout – because of potential impact on traffic flow.
This runs counter to a wide range of schemes currently underway elsewhere in London to remove gyratory systems implemented in London in the 1960s and 1970s and replace them with two-way roads to make conditions safer for all road users, not just those in cars. TfL themselves are helping to promote some of these schemes (including Mansion House – see here http://www.transporttimesevents.co.uk/uploads/101110%20Mansion%20House%20LT%20Award.pdf) – but for some reason not at Elephant & Castle.
In addition, this announcement also means a range of Southwark’s promised community benefits of the regeneration are in jeopardy:
- the proposal for a new public space (see here http://www.lewminesce.co.uk/londonmoving/blog/?p=5159) – this can no longer be achieved if the gyratory remains.
- major capacity improvements to the northern line tube station – escalators are the only way that the tube at Elephant & Castle can accommodate the enormous increase in usage that will follow the redevelopment of the Heygate Estate. These either need space currently occupied by the shopping centre (not possible as this is now being retained) or space in what is now a roadway.
It would be interesting to know how the volumes of pedestrians, cyclists bus, tube and rail passengers crossing this roundabout compare to the highway users whose needs are being prioritised by TfL. Evidence from Blackfriars Bridge (http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.com/2011/02/london-bridge-and-blackfriars-bridge.html) show that even where cyclists alone outnumber car users, TfL Network Assurance continues to prioritise car traffic over other road users.
Furthermore, as stated here (http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.com/2011/06/elephant-castle-is-latest-tfl.html) TfL’s Network Assurance stance appears to be at odds with that of TfL’s Tube department, who recognise the need for increased capacity at the interchange.
Southwark is not the only authority who is trying to grapple with TfL’s contradictory stance – Lambeth council and residents are also unable to get TfL to communicate its objectives properly about the future of the Vauxhall gyratory scheme (http://tradescant.blogspot.com/2011/06/val-shawcross-on-vauxhall-gyratory.html).
It is time for TfL Network Assurance department and the Mayor to come clean that “smoothing traffic flow” actually means prioritising car users above all other people, even when they are in the minority, and for Councils to come together to fight them by demonstrating cleary the actual and potential benefits of a more integrated approach.