Sunday, 31 May 2015

CS2 Upgrade Construction Phase: Schoolchildren and other pedestrians put in increased danger

As we all know the Mile End area contains a large number of schools. Whilst TfL have reassured us that ALL pedestrian crossings will be reinstated following the CS2 construction work, at last Thursday's public meeting many residents voiced concerns about the increased danger to children and other pedestrians during this 58-week construction period.

Guardian Angels, Beatrice Tate, Central Foundation Girls', Malmesbury, Phoenix,  Pillar Box Montessori Nursery and  Mile End Nursery Schools all lie either on Mile End Road or on streets that run into it. Whilst TfL have carried out extensive traffic modelling, what allowance have they made for the thousands of school pupils (and university students) crossing this dangerously congested road?

Additionally, a number of schools (Ben Jonson, Halley & St Paul's Way Schools) lie on roads that are suffering a significant increase in traffic as vehicles attempt to circumvent the banned right turns at Mile End Junction.

As a matter of urgency we believe TfL and Tower Hamlets Council need to assess the increased danger to children and other pedestrians before someone is seriously hurt.

We would urge parents to ask their schools what measures have been put in place to educate pupils about these increased dangers and whether headteachers have expressed their concerns in writing to both TfL and Tower Hamlets Council.

Parents and other residents concerned about these issues and ones mentioned in previous articles should write to:

Sir Peter Hendy
Commissioner for Transport for London
14 Pier Walk, Se10 0ES

John Biggs
London Assembly Member (for City and East London)
Greater London Authority
City Hall,
The Queen's Walk
London SE1 2AA

Residents who have followed the scheme will know that the portion passing through Whitechapel was heavily reconfigured by TfL following lobbying by the ex-Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman. Indeed Tower Hamlets Council will be given funding by TfL to counter rat-running and also to put in place traffic-calming measures. So please do get in touch with your local councillors  and also the Tower Hamlets mayoral candidates.

Report on Meeting with TfL regarding CS2 Upgrade

Mile End Station: Pedestrians run the gauntlet

Over 100 locals attended Thursday night’s public meeting regarding the CS2 Upgrade (CS2U) works and its effect on those living in the Mile End area. It was a good turnout considering it was half term and over 20 apologies were received.

As well as MEOTRA, residents from MERA (Mile End Residents' Association), GUPRA (Grand Union Place Residents' Association) and RRRBA (Roman Road residents & Business Association) area were there in numbers.

Three CS2U staff attended: Glenn Tobin from Ringway Jacobs (an integrated service provider), Nick Dundon and Aaron Rosser from TfL.

Aaron Rosser outlined the main aspects of the scheme via a brief PowerPoint presentation. (see TfL1, TfL2, and TfL3 for the proposals, consultation results, and travel advice respectively). This was then countered by John White from MEOTRA before moving to a Q&A session with the audience and panel examining different aspects of the scheme in turn...

Consultation and Planning
Aaron Rosser stated the consultation showed the Mile End section of the scheme had the support of 88% of respondents. JW questioned these figures – MEOTRA represented over 700 households and following its own consultation had opposed core aspects of the scheme, yet no weighting seems to have been given to MEOTRA’s reply (i.e. it counted as one reply not 700). Similarly for Tower Hamlets Wheelers (THW), MERA, RRRBA, GUPRA and other groups. Indeed THW had put forward detailed proposals of their own which they predicted would have caused less issues for all parties. These proposals do not seem to have been given more than a cursory glance by TfL.

Banned Right Turns (Burdett Road into Mile End Road; Mile End Road into Burdett Road)
This formed the largest part of the discussion. No one in the audience spoke in favour of banning these turns. Aaron and the other TfL representatives heard from many in the audience about the negative effect banning these turns would have on the local community. In particular:

  1. Grove Road is now much, much busier with vehicles seeking to circumvent the banned turns by turning into it and then performing U-turns.
  2. HGVs routinely halt under Grove Road Railway Bridge, reverse across pedestrian lights into Clinton Road and then drive back up to the Mile End junction
  3. TfL suggest vehicles drive all the way up to the Old Ford roundabout to turn around – but this is too small for Lorries
  4. Vehicles travelling eastbound along Mile End Road and wishing to turn right into Burdett Road are now using Harford Street and Ben Jonson Road as an alternative route. This has led to a huge increase in traffic along these roads.
  5. Burdett Road already has increased congestion due to the ongoing CrossRail works near Mile End Stadium and large sections of Burdett Road are “coned off” for CrossRail use only. Had TfL allowed for this in their modelling?
  6. TfL’s traffic modelling predicts Bow Common Lane and Campbell Road to become alternatives. Several audience members expressed concern that these roads were too narrow and unsuitable.
The quietest it's been all week (Saturday 3.30PM FA Cup Final Day during Half Term.
But still three illegal U-turns in under a minute.

Pedestrian Safety and access to Mile End Station
  1. The Mile End station pedestrian lights phasing with the Mile End Junction lights is not set properly. Traffic backs up from the junction all the way to Southern Grove and beyond. As a result pedestrians now routinely hover and then scuttle across through the moving traffic. There will be death or serious injury unless this is corrected.
  2. TfL has not planned for the safety of thousands of Queen Mary University students crossing to Mile End Station or of schoolchildren at the many local schools.

Q: Why not separate traffic lights for cyclists as in Holland? 
A: TfL replied that they have consulted with traffic managers from abroad and are starting this.
Q: Blue paint slippery…
A:  TfL adding rougher material to mix.
Q: Cycle lanes between pavement and “floating bus stops” are dangerous?
A: We've got used to this on the way to Stratford.
Q: Why not direct cyclists along quiet side roads instead of main road?
A:  Cycle Superhighway is the spine side roads connect to.

Short-Term (Construction-Phase) Issues
  1. Noise pollution – the increased congestion results in short-tempered drivers and vehicles with car horns now being blasted 24/7.
  2. Many vehicles (and cyclists!) are ignoring the banned right turns. This is very dangerous for pedestrians as the phasing of pedestrian lights assumes drivers are obeying the law. Traffic cameras and/or the police are needed to enforce these bans otherwise serious accidents will occur.
  3. There was general fury that the traffic lights now favour through traffic with pedestrians having to wait up to 7 minutes, then given less than 30 seconds to cross.
  4. Sometimes the lights aren't working at all.

Other Long-Term Issues
  1. The large westbound road signage obscures Mile End station so traffic is not aware it’s there.
  2. Once the scheme is complete TfL will carry out monitoring and may adjust certain aspects if they are deemed too dangerous.
  3. TfL assured us all suspended pedestrian crossings will be reinstated once construction work is complete.
  4. 22 mature trees have been felled. TfL assured us they aim to plant two trees for every one that is felled. This is discussed further on the East London Garden Society website

The meeting was chaired by our MEOTRA chair Margaret Winniak, with Joan Griffiths taking notes and acting as “question spotter”. They both deserve a big thank you as do the Epainos Church for providing the venue as such short notice.

The next blog post will focus on what we can do about these issues.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Public Meeting with TfL regarding CS2 Upgrades -Thursday 28th May 7PM

MEOTRA have arranged a public meeting with Transport for London regarding the works to upgrade the CS2 cycle route that passes along Mile End Road.

The meeting is next Thursday, the 28th May, at 7PM in the Epiphanus church, Lichfield Rd. Three TfL staff are attending including Glenn Tobin, Public Liaison Officer: Cycle Superhighway Route 2 upgrade (CS2)  and Aaron Rosser, TfL's Cycle Superhighways project manager.

MEOTRA obviously welcomes moves to increase the safety of cyclists on London's roads (over 1,200 bikes commute along Mile End Rd daily), but we are greatly concerned about the affect of the scheme on the local area. In particular:

  1. MEOTRA believe TfL have greatly underestimated the number of vehicles wishing to turn right from Mile End Road into Burdett Road and vice versa. 
  2. Grove Road has seen a significant increase in traffic volumes as vehicles turn into it from both Burdett and Mile End roads and then perform U-turns to circumvent the restrictions. These vehicles thus pass through the junction twice instead of once leading to unnecessary congestion.
  3. Vehicles are now using quiet residential roads such as Clinton road to effect U-turns.
  4. TfL's suggestion that traffic drive all the way up to the roundabout at Victoria Park to U-turn is ridiculous - the roundabout is not designed for HGVs to drive around. Indeed an articulated lorry stopped under the Grove road railway bridge, reversed over a pelican crossing and then reverse turned into Clinton Road.
  5. The phasing of lights is atrocious: Boris' "Keep London Moving" policy which favours arterial traffic has been taken too far with both pedestrians and local traffic being held on red for extraordinary lengths of time (this recording shows pedestrians being held for over seven minutes at Mile End Junction). 
  6. Commuters using Mile End station and crossing Mile End Road have to run the gauntlet, as the station crossing stays red for pedestrians even though traffic is backed up all the from the main junction. Someone is going to get seriously hurt unless this is remedied. 

This meeting is open to all members of the public, not just MEOTRA residents. Doors open 7PM for a 7.15PM start. The location link below shows where the church is (near the The Lord Tredegar in Lichfield Road). Please come and air your concerns. This is probably our last chance for us to influence those implementing the CS2 scheme.