Earlier this year TfL rejected Greenwich’s expensive proposal to turn central Greenwich into a one way gyratory system. But Greenwich didn’t lose the money it gets from TfL. So what will it spend the £2.5 million earmarked for a gyratory on? See here for a PDF file of the proposals for this years Local Implementation Plan which totals £3.9 million, and outline plans for the next couple of years.

Some of the big money schemes are –

  • £274000 in Greenwich on the A206 / Trafalgar Road, SE10 ( from Lassell St to Armitage Rd incl. Blackwall Lane Junction) This is the stretch by the old hospital, and where the ‘Heart of East Greenwich’ site is, and the big junction there. This comes under the heading ‘principle roads’. That may mean its simply resurfacing or maybe they’ll be some other tweaks.
  • £75000 this year and £300000 the following two years on ‘Evaluation, initial design and implementation of bus priority schemes which would have been done as part of GWT’. The Greenwich Waterfront Transit was a scheme drawn up under Ken Livingstone to run buses from Abbey Wood station via Thamesmead through the Royal Arsenal development towards Greenwich. It would have ran on segregated roads through parts of Thamesmead and Woolwich. It was scrapped by Boris, and was one of the only cancellations (possibly the only one) I agreed with. In the end it was nothing more than a glorifed bus route having started as a tram scheme, and would have replaced another bus route but with no added frequency, and the cost had risen into the tens of millions. It will be interesting to see if that money can get some buses through shortcuts such as the Arsenal for a fraction of the cost of the GWT.
  • 100 grand is to be spent at the Woolwich Road/Blackwall tunnel approach. Hopefully the awful roundabout there which has claimed cyclists lives will be improved and the guardrails removed.
  • 200 grand on a 20mph zone on Mcloed road in Abbey Wood. The streetscape is parts of Abbey Wood has gone downhill and much of the urban environment there is a disgrace. The upkeep of much of the area seems to have gone down the drain. Whether £200000 spent on road humps and additional street signs and clutter, on a busy road that serves double decker buses is the wisest decision, I’m not sure.
  • 215000 on footway and cycling improvements in Thamesmead. PLEASE make the cycling improvements coherent and actually worthwhile in the real world.

I’m wondering just how much thought the replacement schemes have been given. Greenwich Council were working on the gyratory plan right until TfL threw it out. When it was cancelled it was announced some money would instead go to the Woolwich Square project. That scheme, however, is almost finished and paid for. Only £220000 of the £2.5 million is going towards it.

The cancellation of the gyratory was of no real surprise, given that gyratories are a pretty dated 1970s idea that would have been detrimental to pedestrians, cyclists, and buses, and went against TfL policy. Gyratories have been removed across the capital in the past few years by TfL, including at Aldgate, Tottenham, Brixton, and just up the road at New Cross.

Now you and I probably have a thousand things we see that could be improved across the borough. My eye tends to focus upon the dire streetscapes as I travel across the borough. Crap lighting, crap paving, and messy street clutter clog up the environment all over, and could be vastly improved. The Woolwich Square improvements are a good example of getting rid of council installed guardrails, signage, and other rubbish and creating a cleaner, sparser environment to the benefit of people, streets, and buildings. Sadly, unless it’s a flagship project costing millions and with outside help Greenwich are often hopeless. Bread and butter projects and routine maintainence reveal a council fixated with putting signage up everywhere they can, along with cheap lighting and street furniture. And they love a guardrail and still stick them up anywhere they can. Why people need to be shepherded constantly to approved crossings I’m not sure. There’s a select few places it’s useful but it’s often nannying in the extreme. No you cannot cross here you’re not responsible enough! London has a huge number of barriers and obstacles on pavements and roadsides, and Greenwich Council are particularly bad at it. TfL however have been removing miles of them on their managed roads, to their credit. Guardrails cost thousands and makes streets uglier. Not to mention the danger to cyclists if forced against them by traffic moving too close.

So with the late cancellation of the gyratory we will have to see if just under £4million will be well spent. I’ve seen a few big wastages of money to have some scepticism. There was the million pound plus spent a few years ago on changing the road between Plumstead and Woolwich from a three lane road (two for cars and one for buses) into a two lane road (one bus and one car) by making the central reservation far wider. It caused huge tailbacks approaching the road from Plumstead High Street, which made my bus journey far slower. They immediately suspended the bus lane one day after opening, thus allowing cars to use it to ease the approaching queues, such was the uselessness of it. The queues from Plumstead High Street could stretch for over a mile during months of construction and after its disastrous opening. Before the scheme there were only queues of a few vehicles by Plumstead station at the lights before the dual carriageway, and often none at all.

Then more money was spent turning half of it back to a three lane road.  The whole thing led to my bus journey doubling, or even tripling in length at times, despite the scheme supposedely helping buses. It didn’t and I stopped using buses shortly after. I do hope the schemes over the next year turn grim streets into attractive places.