Sunday 31 May 2015

Report on Meeting with TfL regarding CS2 Upgrade

Pedestrians cross on red at Mile End Station as the lights rarely hit green
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.
Traffic are habitually doing illegal turns on Grove Road now
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.

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