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broomsleigh-ft

Residents concerned over Beckford School road closure plan

Camden Council has announced plans to implement a temporary road closure near a primary school in West Hampstead, angering many local residents. There are public meetings to discuss the proposals this Thursday.

The affected area is around Beckford School on Dornfell Street. Camden’s proposal is to close Broomsleigh Street at the Mill Lane end at the beginning and end of each school day, preventing traffic from entering Dornfell Street, Glastonbury Street and Ravenshaw Street from this direction. This would come into effect for a six-month period, after which a further decision would be made whether to make the scheme permanent.

The council’s rationale for the possible traffic changes, as outlined in a letter to residents last week, is to create “a safe and pleasant environment” around the school when children arrive, and to encourage families to walk or cycle to school as part of its “Healthy School Streets” initiative. Since the school year started in September, it points out, two school children have been struck by motor vehicles in the area immediately around the school.

However, people living in and around the affected roads are not happy with the street closures, which if approved would come into effect in early June. On the West Hampstead Life forum, many residents have commented that although well-meaning, the plans are misguided and do not take into account the needs of residents and businesses.

People are concerned that they will be unable to reach their homes by car at the restricted hours of 8.30-9.15am and 2.30-4.30pm, deliveries will not be made, and elderly residents will not be able to be picked up for appointments. Margaret McKillop, a forum commenter, queried  what would happen “if for instance we need a doctor or ambulance during the hours between 2.30 and 4.30”?

There is also scepticism that Camden’s scheme will do much to encourage parents to walk their children to and from school, and that instead Ravenshaw Street will become “an unspeakable nightmare” with traffic moving in both directions on an already narrow road. Avril, another forum member, wondered “how many parents will actually support their children cycling to Beckford School” – as this would inevitably mean cycling along busy Mill Lane.

There will be two meetings held at the school this Thursday, March 19th at 3.45pm and 6.30pm, to explain the reasons behind the plan and give parents and residents a chance to ask questions.

Do you live in the affected area, or are you a Beckford School parent? Join the discussion on the forum.

The busy junction of Broomsleigh Street and Mill Lane

The junction of Broomsleigh Street and Mill Lane under discussion

TravisPerkins damage_ft

Lorry damages Travis Perkins building

Photographers captured the moment a lorry crashed into the side of the Travis Perkins building at 156 West End Lane today. The vehicle brought down brickwork and masonry from the corner of the building, surprising the Wickes showroom staff inside.

TravisPerkins damage

Dan Hirai, who works on Maygrove Road, was walking back from lunch at Nando’s at around 1.10pm when he saw the lorry coming up the hill and turning right into the Travis Perkins site. The cab of the lorry made the turning without incident, but then Dan describes hearing “a massive crunch” as the lorry’s container made contact with the building. He then saw material from the wall falling onto the ground.

“I thought he was going to reverse, but he just carried on.”

A Lymington Road resident also described his disbelief after the initial impact. “The driver didn’t get out, but reversed half a metre and tried again, hitting the building again, and then did the same. It took three or four attempts to get through, doing more damage each time.”

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TravisPerkins_damage_a

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The whole endeavour took a few minutes to unfold.

Lorry damages 156 West End Lane

The offending lorry (Photo via Dan Hirai)

The Travis Perkins site has never been among the area’s most popular or aesthetically pleasing – it is slated for redevelopment over the next five years. It didn’t take long for commentators on Twitter to express their feelings on this latest development:

Little Waitrose; big lorries?

Ever since the licence application was spotted in the window of Pizza Express late last month, West Hampstead (at least on Twitter) has been abuzz with the news that Waitrose is planning to move to the neighbourhood. But what impact will another supermarket have in terms of noise and traffic, and will the fabric of the existing building be changed?

Locals’ reactions to the arrival of Waitrose have been mixed. Some have decried the appearance of yet another chain (although it’s not clear which independents are left to be wiped out), others are happy to see what is perceived as a better quality supermarket arrive, and there is a group concerned less with the corporatisation of West End Lane and more with the impact on traffic from deliveries.

This week, Waitrose submitted a slew of planning applications, which address noise, delivery and building alteration issues.

@WHampstead If it is to go ahead, it would indeed be a Little Waitrose. Thanks.
— Waitrose (@waitrose) September 12, 2013

There’s the first – it will be a Little Waitrose – the chain’s relatively new small-format version. This seems likely to be the mysterious fourth 2013 opening referred to in this Waitrose press release.

Secondly, there will be no on-site parking, which had been another concern for some. The full planning application has the relevant section.

The application proposals are for some minor alterations, a roof mounted plant room to house internal plant equipment, and new signage. The shopfront would have a powder coated aluminium fascia panel and new automatic sliding doors.

The existing shopfront will be retained, including the columns which provide an attractive frontage to West End Lane. Minor alterations are proposed in order to reflect the rebranding of the premises as Little Waitrose. Overall, the works are considered to preserve and enhance the appearance and
character of the Conservation Area.

The design approach for the remainder of the site has been to limit the number of external alterations to the building. Waitrose have worked hard to design a plant system which can be accommodated internally within the building and therefore avoid the need to provide air condenser units or other plant equipment externally. The proposed small roof mounted extension to the rear pitched roof and the louvre arrangement to the side of the building will only be visible from the side (West Cottages) elevation and will respect the character and proportions of the building.

Vehicle deliveries
Given the chaos (and ill-feeling) caused by Tesco delivery lorries, which block traffic on West End Lane, it’s not surprising that Waitrose’s delivery schedule will come under very close scrutiny.

Its submissions on the topic are reassuringly detailed, but I shall endeavour to summarise for you here:

Waitrose is suggesting that deliveries could take place using the pay & display bays either side of the fire station forecourt outside of the 8am-6.30pm pay & display hours. Naturally, it would need to ensure access to those bays outside of those hours, so is proposing loading bay restrictions for 6am-8am ad 6.30pm-8.30pm Monday to Sunday. If we look at Waitrose’s own analysis of how those bays are used now at those times, we see that occupancy rates in the mornings are: 66% at the weekends, and 84% Monday-Friday. In the evening period, the bays are occupied 100% of the time. Making them loading bays – even during this short period – will therefore have an impact on local parking.

Normally, the shop would be serviced by one 14.5m long articulated lorry arriving at 6am, It would need up to an hour to unload stock and reload empty cages.At particularly busy times of the year, such as Christmas, a second articulated lorry delivery may be required between 6.30pm and 7.30pm.

All sounds reasonable so far I guess. There is a caveat here though. This Waitrose lorry wouldn’t actually be the only delivery the shop would receive. “Ancillary servicing” would include:

  • Lenhams (crisp boxes) 12m rigid lorry – three to four times per week
  • Bunzl (cardboard) 12m rigid lorry – once a week
  • Newspapers – small van daily
  • Bread supplier – small van daily
  • Waste (food and general) – four to five times per week

Waitrose argues that it dictates when these deliveries occur, and notes that all servicing activities carried out at its Highbury Corner branch are completed by 7am every day. Whether that is viable for West Hampstead will be up for debate.

In an interesting aside, the company points out that “whilst the Council has advised that they would be minded to support the use of the parking bays as a loading bay between 7am and 8pm in principle, it is clear that Waitrose only require the loading bay to be operational for four hours per day (two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening)”

If Camden did give up these two bays it would expect Waitrose to compensate it for loss of income for two years; however, given the extent to which local businesses are clamouring for more visitor parking in West Hampstead, retaining the bays seems like it would bring far more benefit to the local economy at large. It’s surprising that Camden isn’t therefore towing a harder line on this, but reassuring that Waitrose seems minded to save the bays anyway, although it still wants those four hours a day for loading. (of course with no on-site parking, these bays would also be its nearest parking spots)

Impact on traffic
That particular stretch of road is a little tight, especially with the traffic island in the way. Waitrose therefore looked at whether buses can pass each other on West End Lane while there’s a delivery lorry parked in one of the bays. The answer appears to be yes, although it does look a little tight. Still, tight is better than stuck.

The analysis shows that the bus isable to satisfactorily manoeuvre through the Zebra crossing and past a parked Waitrose lorry without affecting the crossing or encroaching the opposing traffic lane. The diagram below is a bit hard to see, but shows a pink lorry parked outside Pizza Express and a blue northbound bus moving past it while a southbound bus travels in the other lane. It’s a tight squeeze as you can see.

There are pages more on the delivery system for those who want to get into the detail (see Appendix A).

Noise
One of the reasons Tesco delivers during the day is because local residents objected to the idea of nighttime deliveries. Noise assessments are therefore interesting. The detail here is hard to understand for the layman (me), but the main message seems to be that although the noise from deliveries would exceed accepted levels, the ambient noise at that location already exceeds accepted levels and the additional impact of Waitrose deliveries would in fact be negligible (they argue less than is actually perceptible). In other words, West End Lane is noisy at 6.30am already, and residents won’t notice the difference.

Whether this takes into account the difference between ambient noise and the sudden jolting noise of a metal cage being wheeled off a lorry isn’t clear to me.

Opening hours
Waitrose is asking for permission to open at 7am each morning (an hour
earlier than those premises are currently permitted to open). Clearly it wants to capture the rush hour pedestrians flowing down from Mill Lane and Fortune Green towards the West Hampstead stations.

Proposed floor plan (click for larger version)

One small caveat to all this – I heard from a reliable source that the leaseholder of the building also lives in one of the flats above Pizza Express. The leaseholder has to give consent for a change of use, as I understand it, so this may not all be quite as clear cut as we imagine.

Abercorn School in Alfred Court

Is Abercorn School hedging its bets?

It’s been several months since Abercorn School announced it was interested in moving into the vacant ground-floor unit at Alfred Court – a formal application has been submitted, but is this just a backup plan?

The private school based in St John’s Wood was looking for somewhere to expand and seemed to think that this site, in the modern bulding that overlooks Fortune Green, would be a viable option. Initial resident feedback wasn’t overwhelmingly positive.

No formal plans were submitted and people began to wonder whether the idea had been quietly shelved. Then, in late July an application was submitted. You can view the whole document here.

Architects’ impression from across the road

Residents have objected in no uncertain terms. Traffic is the big problem and the lengthy transport assessment document that forms part of the application has done nothing to ease locals’ concerns. I’ve added some of the main statistics and a few quotes from residents at the end of this piece.

But is all this (understandable) wailing and gnashing of teeth necessary. A letter from the High Mistress Andrea Greystoke sent to parents in early July, and kindly forwarded to West Hampstead Life, says

I promised to keep you updated on the expansion issue. We are still waiting on lawyers, planners, etc. but I can tell you that we do hope some time in the next 12 months to move our Wyndham Place pupils (Years 4-8) to magnificent premises on Portland Place. The larger space in that building will enable us to give a much enhanced offering to our older pupils. The exact timing is still uncertain—watch this space!! As you are aware this street is much closer to our existing premises than our previous option, and I hope when we do move, it will prove a seamless transition.

Are we meant to infer from this that Fortune Green, which is surely the “previous option”, is now no more than a backup plan or a temporary solution should there be problems with the Portland Place site? I am waiting to hear back from the school on this. It’s also possible that since that letter was sent out the Portland Place site has fallen through so they have had to press ahead with Fortune Green. Either way, something doesn’t quite add up.

Talking of not adding up… here are some of the details on the transport situation. If you are a local resident and want to object then there’s plenty to get your teeth into.

“Due to the transport strategy, local residents on and off the site will not experience any adverse effects as predicted traffic flows will still be well within capacity of the current site access.”

Local residents disagree. Here are just three comments sent to Camden:

As a long term resident I have seen traffic and specifically parking problems exacerbate since the Council approved the whole Sager development. Ingham road is used as a parking/drop off place for Tesco customers, gym attendees and the nursery school. Buses already cannot pass each other due to the unmonitored parking.

As a local Resident I am very concerned about the drop off and pick up points from School Buses and Cars. This road is already busy at Mornings and evenings. I have read the proposed transport section and just do not believe that people will not use their cars causing chaos on Fortune green road and the adjacent roads

We are already experiencing enormous congestion and parking problems from the users of the Gym on Fortune Green Road as also people who park to shop at the Tesco store on Fortune Green Road. Not only is parking difficult through out the day but jams are caused by the volume of parking on Fortune Green Road and deliveries by Tesco lorries. A school will add still further with the inevitable large numbers of drop off and collections by parents, minibuses and buses. There is simply no capacity for this in an already very congested environment.

You get the idea.

The transport assessment goes into inordinate detail about the “pick-up/drop-off strategy”, which involves parents driving into the basement car park and number plate recogntiion technology alerting school staff as to which child they have to go and meet (the youngest children are 8, not 5). Hard to imagine that, despite the Bat Cave approach, most parents won’t just drop their kids off as near as they can to the front door rather than go through all that palaver.

The school’s masterplan is that most of the kids would be bussed from its other site in Abercorn Place in St John’s Wood. The theory is that most children live around there, so they can get to the Abercorn Place site as usual and then be ferried up to Fortune Green. That’s assuming that parents would prefer this, which no doubt means an earlier start, than doing the school run themselves. However, this still means three buses in the morning and three in the afternoon. The transport strategy claims that

A school bus would only stop for the minimum time required to pick up or drop off pupils who are accompanied at all times by a teacher on the bus. There is no need for a school bus to wait here.

Such punctuality would be astounding.

One reader who used to live near Abercorn Place snapped a photo of one of the buses waiting at 3.30pm outside Abercorn school. “Abercorn Place is a very wide road, and relatively traffic free, yet still the bus causes problems. It is a regular occurrence seeing these buses in these stops, and there for a significant period of time, 25 mins+”

Not driving but waiting

There’s also a strange assumption that all kids coming by public bus would take the 328, but how many actually live near the 328 bus route? Some do, most don’t. This map (click to enlarge) shows at postcode level (not address level) where existing pupils live. You can decide for yourself whether it’s optimistic to suggest that all the kids living where the blue stars are will faithfully take the school bus every day.

The transport survey is phenomenally detailed, especially if you get into the appendices. However, one group of local residents have retaliated with a pretty detailed assessment of their own that focuses (rather cleverly) less on the issues of traffic congestion and more on the emotive topic of child safety.

If you want to express your view to Camden on this, all the details are here.

Could Solent Road generate more parking fines?

Camden generates the third biggest surplus from parking fines in the country, according to a report from the RAC. But should one street in West Hampstead actually be generating more revenue for Camden?

According to the RAC, Camden’s surplus is £25 million (a shadow of Westminster’s £41.6 million). Camden’s own annual parking report from September 2012 gives a surplus figure of £24.3 million. Despite falling revenues from parking fines, expenditure has dropped even more dramatically as the borough has “continued the drive to implement efficiencies”, thus the surplus has grown substantially.

Source: Camden’s 2012 annual parking report

Source: Camden’s 2012 annual parking report

The surplus has to be reinvested in transport (this is a legal requirement), and just over 50% of Camden’s surplus went into discounted travel for older and disabled people last year – entirely funding the borough’s contribution to these London-wide schemes. The money can also be spent on “off-street parking” and “transport planning costs”, but neither category has received any money from the surplus in the past three years.

Source: Camden’s 2012 annual parking report

It’s clear then that it’s in councils’ interest to maximise the surplus to help fund other transport services. Motorists would no doubt wish this to be done entirely by reducing costs rather than increasing fines. However, all residents would surely expect that, as Camden’s finance chief Theo Blackwell put it, “The parking system must be based on fairness.” Interesting then to consider the case of Solent Road.

Yesterday, there was a Twitter debate about the taxi cabs, allegedly from Direct Car Services on Mill Lane, which park on Solent while they wait for jobs.

Solent Road (photo via @mustardcoleman1)

Local tweeter Nicky Coleman wrote “More cab drivers stopping residents parking on Solent Rd. Every day is the same. They block the crossroads on Solent/Glenbrook so you can’t cross. It’s a nightmare when I’m crossing with the buggy.”

Fellow local resident Jen added, “They block the double yellow lines too, making it hard to see when you’re turning out of Solent Rd.”

Another tweeter suggested that the taxis had the same right to park there as anyone else, but the problem is that this is residents parking as you can see clearly in the photo above, and their behaviour suggests that these cars do not have permits. Nicky Coleman again, “They all park up and sit in one cab chatting, and run when and if a warden shows up.”

They scarper only if a warden shows up on foot, it would seem. This morning, still on the crusade, Nicky tweeted “Traffic warden on a moped drove down Solent Road past four cabs parked up.”

It’s not unheard of for traffic wardens to be susceptible to bribes, as happened in Westminster last year. One would hope that Camden’s parking enforcement contractor has suitably stringent measures to make sure that couldn’t happen here.

Obviously, if the cars drive off when a warden shows up then it’s hard for Camden to enforce the parking restrictions although CCTV enforcement is used in some parts of the borough. There is certainly no evidence I can find that taxis are exempt from parking restrictions, with the exception of physically dropping off and picking up passengers. You can read Camden’s parking enforcement rules here [pdf].

There is also such a thing as “Dispensation to Wait”, aimed at tradespeople and that allows them to park in permit bays or on single yellow lines where restrictions allow. This costs £30 a day.

It’s worth pointing out that Camden is moving to electronic permits, so cars can be legally parked without any displayed permit in the windscreen. Be careful therefore of jumping to conclusions. Nevertheless, it would be good to get reassurance that traffic wardens, or enforcement officers as they’re now called, are actively checking minicabs when they come across them parked in permit bays, and enforcing the rule that parking on double yellow lines is never permitted.

Perhaps a tiny sliver of that £25 million surplus could go back into making sure that everyone who parks illegally pays the appropriate fine. The upshot might be an even larger surplus to spend on improving transport locally next year.

Direct Car Services has yet to respond to my request for comment.

WestHampsteadOverground

New Overground station to be built next year

At the end of last month, Camden held its annual public meeting on transport issues in the north of the borough for the first time. A good proportion of the questions on the night related to the local area.

Overground
WHAT (West Hampstead Amenities & Transport) asked for an update on the platform and lifts upgrades at West Hampstead Overground station.

Work will start on new Overground station next year
Photo via James Lovett

Some context is needed here. TfL have recognised that the Overground station needs an overhaul. It handles more than 3 million passengers a year, making it one of the busier train stations in the country. According to WHAT, a new footbridge and station building, with lifts and wide access, will be constructed about halfway down the existing platforms. This will allow the station building to continue to function until the new one is ready. The first stage will be to lengthen and widen the platforms to allow use of 5-car trains on the Overground (which are due early 2015). Building work on the station is expected to take place during 2014, with completion hoped for in early 2015.

WHAT has lobbied for this for the last two years and wants to ensure that the provision of lifts is co-ordinated with the Ballymore housing development next door. The money that TfL allocated for installing the lifts was on a use-it-or-lose-it basis, but given the length of the Ballymore build, it will have to be applied for again. The consensus seems to be that there won’t be a problem in having it awarded again.

Cycle hire at West Hampstead Thameslink
Emily Turner asked whether TfL had considered expanding Cycle Hire to West Hampstead Thameslink? The existing plan is to expand the Barclays “Boris” Bike scheme around Westminster and the City of London where demand is greatest. TfL has no plans to expand further north-west. In 2012, the scheme extended to Camden Town, with the northernmost docking station on Castlehaven Road towards Chalk Farm. A further extension to West Hampstead would require a number of docking stations throughout the area to the north-west of Swiss Cottage, which, say TfL may presentsome topographical and operational difficulties.

TfL met with Camden officers in March 2013 to discuss Camden’s aspirations for Cycle Hire and these will be considered within wider discussions for the building programme in the King’s Cross area.

Personally, I think our part of NW London should look at one of the alternative bike hire schemes that are popping up elsewhere in the country. These require less infrastructure than Boris Bikes and would benefit people moving around the area rather than just commuting to and from work, which would lead to limited numbers of bikes being available during the day. I’m looking into this in more detail.

West End Lane disruptions
WHAT asked if Camden could outline how it plans to deal with disruptions, such as those occurring on West End Lane due to burst water mains?

The council explained the impact the bridges and train lines have on the options for road diversions around West Hampstead, which can lead to bus passengers being a long way off course. It also said that planning for unexpected disruptions is difficult and usually consists of diversions and these will be announced by the driver. On occasion a disruption will sometimes lead to a longer term response being required, which may include the use of information at bus stops.

Bus stops
WHAT (again) asked TfL for an update on bus reliability and on the use of information during bus journeys, and live information at key locations to keep passengers informed of changes and delays to buses.

TFL has a large amount of bus data available, which is used to measure performance by the bus operators and enforce service level agreements in contracts. Camden said it would consider paying for real-time bus information at key locations in West Hampstead through Section 106 money (the money paid by developers to offset the impact of new developments).

Jubilee Line
WHAT asked TFL to provide an update on Jubilee Line closures and the impact these have on the West Hampstead community, particularly during the Christmas period. It also pointed out that more explanation about the nature of the works would be appreciated, rather than “engineering works” being a catch-all term.

TFL confirmed that essential maintenance to reline a section of the tunnel near Bond Street started on June 16th and will require three remaining closures and two late Sunday starts in 2013, with some intermittent closures also required in 2014 and possibly 2015.A full list of all planned closures is available on the TfL website.

Around Christmas, the Jubilee Line will be closed from Waterloo to Finchley Road from Thursday 26th December to Monday 30th Dec.

Traffic lights and other issues
WHAT asked for an update on the proposal to improve the traffic lights outside West Hampstead tube station.

The installation of secondary signals at the West End Lane / Broadhurst Gardens junction is scheduled for this financial year.

June Perrin: Could Camden review the traffic light sequence at the junction of Kilburn High Road and Quex Road? 

An scheme is being developed in this area, which could include the phasing of the signals.

Mel Wright asked whether there are plans to improve pedestrian crossing times along Kilburn High Road, perhaps using the live countdown technology. 

TFL confirmed that Quex Road has been identified as one of 200 sites in London for the implementation of live countdown

Maryam Alaghband: Could TFL could comment on the traffic light system at Swiss Cottage gyratory where traffic going south onto Park Road collides with traffic coming from Avenue Rd and going to Finchley Rd? 

David Harris: Can the traffic lights from Finchley Road and Fitzjohns Avenue be timed so that both lights do not allow the traffic to move together in such a way that the traffic becomes a racing track where the motorists cross in front of one another in order to reach the right lane?

Same answer to both questions: “TfL is reviewing this site and although there are likely to be significant challenges in terms of maintaining network resilience at this location by the full or partial removal of the gyratory system, TfL will be seriously considering the options available and will welcome community involvement in the development of these plans.”

David Douglas: Can TFL plant more trees at the gyratory to combat air pollution; and can air quality information at Swiss Cottage be publicised?
The ground conditions along Finchley Road have proved to be very challenging for planting new trees. TfL proactively looks for suitable places to plant new trees, but on this occasion, the ground conditions meant that this area was not suited, and the trees would not have prospered.

An overview of pollution levels in Camden is published on the London Air Quality Network website and there is specific data for the Swiss Cottage monitoring station.

Reducing collisions on Kilburn High Road

Kilburn High Road has developed a reputation for dangerous junctions: there have been more than 100  accidents over the past couple of years. At the last Area Action Group meeting for Kilburn ward, Brian Deegan and Jacqueline Saunders from Camden Council’s Transport Strategy team gave a presentation on transport improvements in the area Kilburn.

Thanks to Nick Kimber at Camden for these notes:

Jacqueline explained that Camden was working with Brent to deliver area improvements and discussed how funding for improvements came from the Local Implementation Plan. She also said that Kilburn had been highlighted as a key area for investment. Camden would like to reduce the number of collisions and road danger and improve accessibility; Jacqueline also stressed that it was important to improve the character of the area and establish a sense of place.

Brian asked residents to think about routes they would like to improve in the area and highlighted Kilburn High Road, West End Lane and Abbey Road as areas of particular concern.

Residents responded that Quex Road was a particularly difficult road to cross and was heavily congested, and that illegal parking was causing problems on Belsize Road and Willesden Lane. Brian showed how clustered the locations of collisions in the area were – note that the high road isn’t “highlighted” in the map, those are all separate accidents.

Kilburn High Road collisions for three years up to July 2012:
151 collisions: 77 (51%) involving pedestrians or cyclists (51 pedestrians, 26 cyclists)
20 of all collisions (13%) were “killed or serious injury”:  8 of which were pedestrians – 6 serious, 2 fatalities.

This showed a persistent problem along the whole of the High Road [it also shows that West End Lane is also relatively dangerous], indicating that junction fixes at specific locations would not resolve the underlying issue. Over the past three years, 151 collisions have been recorded and residents were keen to stress that there had been two fatalities in the past six months alone.

Residents then spoke about the issues they had encountered with Kilburn High Road, which included:

  • long waiting time at signal crossings
  • short amount of time given to pedestrians to cross the road
  • difficulty cycling along the High Road
  • lack of parking for shoppers
  • lack of parking enforcement leading to congestion

Brian showed an idea from Brent for a road with a central median strip and street trees and asked if  residents would support a similar scheme on Kilburn High Road. One resident said that the proposal was not practical and that the ideas had been looked at and dismissed in the past. Other residents could see the benefits of being able to cross the road in stages where they wanted too.

The “Brent Idea” (looks like Willesden Green to me!)

BD asked residents if there were any other transport issues they would like the Council to look at and the following suggestions were put forward:

  • look at the cycle route that runs by the side of Tesco
  • look at resolving parking and traffic management issues deriving from the development on Abbey Road
  • could cycle lanes be introduced on Kilburn High Road
  • could Camden reinstate the pedestrian refuge island on Quex Road
  • could the footway on Kilburn High Road be repaved and the street clutter reduced.

Concerns were also raised about potholes and road maintenance in general and Brian confirmed that there were plans to resurface Kilburn High Road in the next year. Jacqueline pointed out that it was important to find the right balance on a street between businesses and residents.

The introduction of a controlled zone was suggested by one resident to reduce the dominance of heavy goods vehicles, which it was suggested brought little benefits to the people of Kilburn. A low emission zone could be considered as part of this controlled zone. By the end of the session Brian and Jacqueline  confirmed that Kilburn would be prioritised for funding and that officers would look into the suggestions put forward by residents to improve their area.

Residents who would like to make further suggestions or seek more clarification on transport developments in Kilburn can contact the officers ku.vo1498670392g.ned1498670392mac@n1498670392ageed1498670392.nair1498670392b1498670392 and ku.vo1498670392g.ned1498670392mac@s1498670392rednu1498670392as.en1498670392ileuq1498670392caj1498670392

20 mph limit: have your say

Last autumn, Camden announced it was considering introducing a borough-wide speed limit of 20 mph.

We’re now in the consultation phase of this proposal, so if you have strong views for or against, now’s the time to voice them. The council is clearly in favour – the key points of its argument are:

  • It is expected that a 20 mph speed limit will reduce the number of people killed and injured on Camden’s roads.
  • 20 mph zones already exist in most of Camden’s neighbourhoods and the 20 mph limit will fill in the gaps, making it more consistent and easy to follow.
  • By making our roads safer and more pleasant to use this will encourage more walking and cycling
  • A 20 mph speed limit may increase journey times on some roads and at certain times but we do not expect this will be significant.
  • There could be an increase in traffic congestion (traffic jams), but is not known if this will be the case. If there is an increase it is only expected at a few locations and not across the borough.

As you can see below, almost all of West Hampstead south of Mill Lane is already a 20mph zone, so it won’t have any immediate impact for many non-drivers living here.

blue: 20mph already, pink: not 20mph, green: parks

It’s important to note that the proposal excludes the so-called “red routes”, which include Finchley Road and Hampstead Road. These roads are managed by TfL. Camden would still like to know whether these red routes should be included in the 20 mph zone, so it can discuss with TfL about future inclusion. Camden High Street, a red route, is already 20 mph.

You can access the consultation at https://consultations.wearecamden.org/culture-environment/borough-wide-20mph-speed-limit/consult_view. There’s also a useful FAQ document. Personally, I’m in favour for many reasons: safety, traffic flow, and environmental considerations all featuring. If you’re of the mindset that says 30mph is quite slow enough for built-up areas then please read “The day I hit a child at 20 mph“.

Burst pipes, broken communication?

Burst water pipes. They happen. It’s annoying. You might lose water for the day, which – depending on your needs – is either slightly or extremely inconvenient but it’s a day, and you’ll cope.

If the water pipe is under a main road then that road will probably have to be closed and dug up and naturally that adds to the inconvenience. These are day-to-day occurrences for the public and privatised bodies that deal with our utilities. It’s easy to see that for them it’s just another job number. But they must also surely recognise that for the residents involved this is a fairly unusual and disruptive state of affairs. It is not too much to expect, therefore, for them to do everything they reasonably can to minimise that inconvenience. Overall I think we can say that in this latest incident on West End Lane, this has not happened.

Aside from the large pipe that burst, this past week has seen a spate of other burst pipes in the area. It looks like we’re in for some lengthy upgrade works, which means more disruption. Again, this happens. Stuff breaks and has to be fixed. You don’t get the Victorian architecture without some Victorian infrastructure that needs repairing.

Newly painted road markings (via @RentalFlatsNW6)

The good news is that this latest batch of burst pipes should bump us a few places up the priority list for upgrade. The bad news is that although the original stretch of West End Lane should reopen today, the leak at Cleve Road is more complicated than it looks and this section of West End Lane may also need to be closed for a few days. Perhaps if that happens then we can learn the lessons from this past week’s somewhat farcical situation.

First, it’s still not clear why there was a gap of several hours last week between Thames Water turning up to examine the West End Lane leak and Camden closing the road so they could start work on it. On Twitter, Camden told me they were looking into this but I’m yet to hear any answers.

Second, although Thames Water repaired the leak reasonably quickly, fixing the road has taken an inordinate amount of time. I realise that they have to prioritise – which is why some leaks gets fixed immediately and others, which don’t cause loss of water supply or that risk damaging property, can take weeks. However, a busy main road that is on three bus routes is surely something of a priority? We were told on Wednesday that the road would be closed until Saturday, and that Camden then hoped to continue its own road resurfacing. Two days to fix a hole in the road – even a large hole – seemed reasonable. Problem was that not a lot happened on Friday. Then there was some activity on Saturday. But not a lot on Sunday. Today, Monday, it looks like it’s going to finally be fixed and reopen. But why did nothing happen on Friday and Sunday?

Do the budget cuts at Camden mean there’s no-one left to chase Thames Water? Do such things just fall through the cracks. Is there too much trust placed on the utility by the council? It’s true that Camden insisted that Thames make good the whole section of road in order to maintain the integrity of the road surface, which added time. But there was so much downtime on this job – or at least appeared to be – that they could have probably done the rest of the West End Lane while they were at it.

In the age of Twitter and the demand for greater transparency and information, these bodies need to up their game. Camden, Thames Water, and me(!) were being asked all day what was happening. Thames, which I think is generally ahead of the game in terms of using Twitter, was not hugely responsive; Camden presumably didn’t know – or at least the people manning the Twitter feed were too far removed from the people who knew the answers. I just felt like starting a “Is West End Lane open yet” websites that just showed a big “NO”.

What SHOULD happen is that people go to Thames Water’s neat interactive map that lets you check the status of reported leaks. Yet this simply isn’t up-to-date enough. People expect real-time information in 2013, and surely it’s not a major IT task to have status data uploaded from the senior person on-site into the database that underpins the map? Yet, if that’s supposed to happen, it does not. Right now the map says “We’re aware of a leak on West End Lane” – that’s the one they’ve already fixed. The Cleve Road leak doesn’t even get a mention.

Third, TfL dropped the ball. On Friday I bumped into a heavily pregnant woman on West End Lane at the corner with Broadhurst Gardens. She asked if I knew what bus to get to Kilburn. I had to tell her that her best option – short of a taxi – was to walk down Sherriff Road. TfL, generally fairly on the ball with dealing with closures, was saying on its bus countdown app that the buses were all running fine despite the fact that the road was impassable and all three buses – the 139, 328 and C11 – were on diversion. The full website has all the details, but surely there should be a trigger that can ensure the right information comes to our smartphones?

Sure, West Hampstead isn’t Oxford Street. Sure, residents had their water supply turned back on reasonably quickly. And sure, none of this stuff is the end of the world. But the knock-on effects are frustrating to say the least. This main leak has now taken six days to fix, and means another weekend of disruption as Camden will have to come back and do the original resurfacing work it had to cancel for this past weekend.

Everyone concerned can do better.

West End Lane should reopen this evening

West End Lane is scheduled to reopen around 6pm today. One of the reasons for the delay (and there’s a separate post on this coming up net) is that Camden has insisted that Thames Water make full repairs to the road rather than just filling in the hole and tarmacing over it.

The leak further south on West End Lane at the junction with Cleve Road, is apparetntly more complicated than first thought. There is apparently a “significant void under the carriageway”, according to a Camden communication. I take this to be council speak for “a bloody big gap”, and reinstating the road here could mean closing West End Lane again. There’s a meeting tomorrow morning to assess the next steps. For more on the saga of West Hampstead’s burst pipes and broken communications, read this.

WHAT focuses on transport

Dennington Park Road is the place to be on January 30th. One one side of the road, the Conservatives are holding their US-style primary to determine who will be their candidate for Hampstead & Kilburn in the next general election. On the other, in the library, those good burghers of West Hampstead, WHAT (West Hampstead Amenities and Transport, for those of you who didn’t pay attention in class last term) are holding their AGM followed by a public meeting about transport. Who said West Hampstead wasn’t edgy?

There are a few transport updates to share with you, based on WHAT’s meeting with Camden late last year. There were four points on the agenda for that meeting:

  • The traffic lights at the Finchley Road/Fortune Green Road junction had been installed without consultation and have apparently made the junction even more dangerous as they confuse drivers. TfL has promised to “take action”.
  • The lights at the junction of Broadhurst Gardens and West End Lane are also deemed dangerous for pedestrians (As a regular user of these, the only danger I see is from the cars and cyclists who deliberately jump the lights). Camden is apparently going to install extra lights here. I’m not entirely sure how many more traffic lights that stretch of West End Lane needs?
  • The lack of a lift at the Overground station, despite funding being available.
  • General pedestrian congestion and safety in the area between the three stations (gold star if you knew that that is generally called the “interchange”).

After the meeting, Camden’s cabinet member for transport, Phil “20mph” Jones promised a separate transport meeting in the north of the borough for full airing of grievances. And it has come to pass. Phil will share the platform with Barnet & Camden London Assembly member Andrew “Colemanator” Dismore and a guy from TfL called Steve.

WHAT’s AGM runs from 7.30pm-8.15pm. There’s 15 minutes for refreshments and then the public meeting gets underway with a 9.45pm finish time. All are welcome.

Encouraging slower speeds on Sumatra Road

Are “sinusoidal” speed bumps the way to reduce traffic speed, or should West Hampstead’s Sumatra Road become one-way?

Last year we had cycle permeability, 20mph zones, and debates over “table humps” to slow traffic. As 2013 hoves into view, Camden is launching a consultation on how to reduce traffic speeds on Sumatra Road by converting the existing speed cushions into sinusoidal road humps.

A speed cushion

Sinusoidal speed bump

Ok, lets get it out of the way: sinusoidal definitely sounds like a medical condition. In fact, a sinusoidal road hump has a less severe profile than old-style speed bumps but apparently is also effective at reducing speeds.

The speed limit on Sumatra Road was reduced to 20mph last year. A raised junction was also built at the junction with Glenbrook Road. During the consultation for this, some residents told Camden they felt the existing speed cushions were not bringing car speeds down enough, and the idea of turning Sumatra into a one-way street was mooted.

Indeed, I was cc’d on a chain of e-mail correspondence between one Sumatra resident and the council. The first mail, from Septmeber 2012, was trying to cultivate support for making Sumatra Road one-way to control speeding traffic.

“There is a children’s playground on our road and the number of speeding cars and large lorries is a danger to children and families that live on this residential street,” went the argument. “There is also only room for one car on Sumatra Road and traffic often builds up as cars refuse to reverse to let others through.”

The resident reckoned that a one-way sign placed at one end of the road would be a “cheap and common sense solution to this problem of public safety.”

Back in October I received a similar mail from another local.

“As someone who drives around [Sumatra Rd and surrounding streets] a couple of times a week they’re certainly narrow and it’s difficult to see round the corners because of all the parked cars. I think if there was a way to make them one-way it would be more useful than a 20mph limit, but I guess that’s also more expensive.”

Camden’s response to the one-way idea:

“In general it is against our policy to introduce one way streets as these often lead to increased speeds as vehicles do not have to deal with any opposing traffic and hence can speed up.

Making the road one way could potentially increase the volume of traffic as more drivers would find it an attractive option given they would not face any opposing traffic. In addition, traffic would potentially be displaced to nearby streets as they would not be allowed to use Sumatra Road in one direction.”

The change in type of speed bump is partly a reaction to these complaints. The road accident data shows that in the three years to the end of February 2012,there were six accidents along Sumatra Road, of which two resulted in serious injuries.

The proposal is therefore to convert the speed cushions into these sinusoidal road humps along the full length of Sumatra Road.

There’s also a plan to convert an existing 15 metre shared use parking bay into a 15 metre pay & display only parking bay outside the Solent Road Health Centre. This follows a request from the clinic to provide short-term parking facilities for visitors. The proposed pay and display parking will operate Mon–Fri 08:30–18:30 and would mean permit holders will not able to park in these three spaces during these hours.

If agreed, all this will happen in early 2013 and will be funded by TfL.

To give Camden your views, complete this questionnaire and return it by 25th January 2013 to: London Borough of Camden, Culture and Environment Directorate, Transport Strategy Service, FREEPOST RLZH–UEYC–ACZZ, Argyle Street, London, WC1H 8EQ. Or send a separate response to each question to ku.vo1498670392g.ned1498670392mac@n1498670392iassu1498670392h.zer1498670392bat1498670392 (you must include your postal address though).

Two accidents on West End Lane

Yesterday was topped and tailed by two road traffic accidents at either end of West End Lane.

In the morning there was a collision involving a police car at the junction with Dynham Road (right by where the fatal car accident was last month).

Photo via Tim Blackwell
Photo via Chris Padfield
(I’m intrigued as to how that van parked in the driveway behind in the meantime)

According to local resident Yiannis Assiotis, the police car was heading north up West End Lane with its sirens on when it hit the Toyota, which appears to have been turning out of Dynham Road. The police officers got out of the car and helped the driver of the other car out from the passenger seat as the driver’s door was blocked by the police car. Yiannis reported that everyone seemed to be in one piece.

The VW you can see next to the bus was apparently already parked there. One reader, reported that when he walked past at 7am, it seemed to have been abandoned having hit the wall and badly dented the left front wing. Had the police car had to swerve to avoid it?

Camden police’s twitter account simply told me “A police car was involved in a minor collision with another vehicle… There were no injuries”

At around 6pm, a man appears to have been knocked down at the zebra crossing by Hidden Treasure at the northern end of West End Lane. Locals reported that it was just over an hour before an ambulance turned up although the man was being looked after by police officers and firemen. He was eventually taken away in an ambulance.

This time, @MPSCamden told me “officers attended an RTC [road traffic collision]… one male was taken to hospital with minor injuries.” I don’t know whether anyone has been charged.

Photo via Joseph Knight

If I hear more on either story I’ll be sure to keep you posted

West End Lane crash: details emerging

Today, the police released the name of the woman who was killed in the tragic road accident in West Hampstead on Saturday night.

Desreen Brooks, 33, was with her husband and two-year-old son at the time. As the car mounted the pavement her husband Ben Dutton pushed their son out of the way and jumped clear. Sadly his wife was not able to get out of the way. Despite the best efforts of doctors who were passing and stopped, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Desreen Brooks and Ben Dutton

American postgrad student Amy Werner, 23, was also caught up in the accident as she headed to Camden to meet up with classmates, and remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition. Her parents have flown over from Vermont to be with her.

The 83-year-old driver was taken to hospital but his injuries have been described as “not life threatening”.

Local residents have left many comments of support for both families – this accident has shaken the community, partly I think because it was so random and for those who live in the immediate area it was so dramatic. Lots of readers have asked how we might help, and I can tell you that the Family Liaison Officer is making the families aware of this level of support and if there is anything practically that we can do then I shall let you all know. Clearly both families have enough to deal with at the moment so it may be a little while before our help is needed.

The cause of the crash is still not known. Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with any information should call 0208 842 1817.

The Evening Standard and Camden New Journal both have reports with extra detail.

Fatal accident on West End Lane

[original post Nov 11th 10am]
[updated Nov 11th 11.30am]
[updated Nov 11th 4pm] 
[updated Nov 12th 4pm]
[updated Nov 13th 8.30am] 
[updated Nov 13th 1.15pm]
[new article: http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/2012/11/west-end-lane-crash-details-emerging.html] 
[new article: http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/2012/11/west-end-lane-crash-can-we-help.html

Just after 8.30pm on Saturday, the 83-year-old driver of an old Mercedes on West End Lane lost control, mounted the curb, hit two female pedestrians, some traffic lights and a wall. One of the women died. Desreen Brooks, 33, was a mother from south London. The other woman is 23 year-old Amy Werner, an American postgraduate student at University of Westminster, originally from Vermont in New England. She is in a serious condition and her parents Richard and Regina Werner have flown over to be with her. The driver was hospitalised though his injuries are not believed to be serious. Eye-witnesses and local residents reported distressing scenes of medical teams attempting resuscitation, and a lot of damage.

It is still too early to know exactly how this happened. The accident occurred between the junctions with Dynham Road and Cleve Road in West Hampstead. The car was apparently heading south when it lost control. It is unclear how fast it was travelling – apparently knocking over traffic lights is not much of an indication as they are not deeply embedded. However, the car continued into the wall, knocking down one pillar entirely and causing the top of another to fall off. The car carried on a bit further, knocking down another bollard before finally coming to a stop. I do not know where exactly the pedestrians were. According to the Brent & Kilburn Times, no arrests have been made although that’s not apparently what a local vicar told his congregation – perhaps also pre-emptively saying it was a case of reckless driving.

According to a local resident, “The sound of the crash was horrific, with people rushing up Dynham Road and West End Lane to see what had happened. I did not hear any tires screeching – just the crash.  Ambulance crews were there in minutes. There was steam and dust everywhere at the scene. The immediate scenes of panic were shocking to see and hear. The car had come to rest head-on to the wall on Dynham Road at the junction of West End Lane. The driver was trapped in the car but seemed to be OK. Fire crews had to cut him out.”

According to the Evening Standard’s report, there was also a young child of 4 or 5 in the car, though it is not clear whether there were any other passengers.

The car was removed just before 3am Sunday.

I’m told there is a CCTV camera outside St James’ Mansions, so there may be some footage from that to help police. The lack of screeching tires, the age of the car and the driver and the extent of the damage done might lead one to suspect brake failure more than dangerous driving. Whatever the cause, it’s a tragedy that one local described as “the worst accident I’ve seen on West End Lane in all my 18 years living in West Hampstead”.

Witnesses or anyone with information is urged to call investigation unit on (0208) 842 1817.
Many of you have asked what we can do to help the families of the victims. In the short-term, the Family Liaison Officer is aware of this goodwill and will contact me if there is anything either family needs that we can help with.

The top of the right pillar is gone and the entire left pillar collapsed
Google Street View of what it used to look like
The traffic lights are now lying by the side of the adjacent wall

Speed limit plans prove emotive

A couple of days ago I wrote about Camden’s proposal to introduce a 20mph speed limit on all roads in the borough.

Here’s a presentation Camden prepared on the subject, which is laden with stats.

Camden 20mph Limit Presentation

On Twitter and in the comments section, there were plenty of people wanting to express their point of view, so I thought I’d collate them for you here:

20mph in Camden: Slower, safer, sensible?

Camden’s proposed 20mph speed limit on all its roads certainly got ample press coverage when it was announced a couple of weeks ago. [update: you can see Camden’s presentation on the issue]

It’s not a new idea, it was actually being mooted back in 2004. Nor is Camden the first place to make such a move. Neighbouring borough Islington has just implemented such a scheme.

It’s predominantly a safety issue, and some of the borough’s side streets already have a 20mph limit after the last Camden administration voted to expand the go-slow zone. The new rules would not apply to roads in the borough run by TfL (such as Finchley Road), although there could be some lobbying to have the limit applied borough-wide.

Cllr Phil Jones, cabinet member for sustainability, explained the thinking behind the proposal to the Ham & High: “Introducing a 20mph borough-wide limit in Camden would prevent road casualties and make our streets safer for all. We want to give greater confidence to the pedestrians and cyclists who use our roads and encourage more people to switch to sustainable forms of transport.”

There’s a school of thought that says it’s unusual to travel at more than 20mph anyway on Camden’s generally congested roads – at least during the daytime – so would imposing a limit have any impact on accidents? As a couple of people mention in this BBC report, drivers are having accidents and close shaves with cyclists at 20mph already. However, in the CNJ, the council cites TfL statistics that there has been a more than 20 percent fall in accidents in Belsize Park, which has been under a 20mph zone since 2006.

Naturally, not everyone is keen. Keith Peat, the regional co-ordinating manager for campaigning non-profit group, the Association of British Drivers, was reported in the CNJ as saying the move was “counter productive”. He continued, “In congested areas, 20mph zones often have drivers more focused on the speedometer so they don’t get a fine than, say, keeping an eye out if a child runs across their path.”

Away from the busier southern reaches of the borough, however, there are plenty of stretches of road where 20mph is more than feasible (even if it sometimes feels as if West End Lane is at a permanent standstill), so perhaps it is around West Hampstead and Hampstead that the greatest impact might be felt, rather than in Camden Town or Kings Cross.

Enforcement, of course, is a crucial part of such a scheme’s success. Cllr Jones explains the ‘big picture’ approach he’s taking: “This is not about introducing more road humps,” he stresses, “it is about beginning to change the culture on our roads in favour of lower speeds. We will continue with small local schemes where they are supported by residents, but this is a more comprehensive proposal that would be implemented without major traffic calming measures.”

Swiss Cottage councillor Andrew Marshall wrote to the Camden New Journal with his views on the issue (he’s in favour). He recognises that not everyone will share his perspective: “The fact that 20mph zones are always going to be contentious with some should not be an excuse for inaction by the council.”

There’ll be a consultation of course, and no doubt strong views on both sides of the argument. What do you think? Is a 20mph limit enforceable on the busier roads? Will it actually have an impact on accidents?

Transport spotlight on West Hampstead

Tonight, Camden council is holding a public meeting about transport issues in the borough. Isabel Dedring, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, and Councillor Phil Jones, Camden’s Cabinet Member for Sustainability will discuss residents’ ideas for improving transport.

Officers from Camden Council and TfL will also be on hand to answer your questions.

Thanks to WHAT, there is a whole section of the agenda dedicated to West Hampstead. The topics being raised are:

  • Progress on lift installation at West Hampstead Overground station.
  • Traffic light changes by TfL without consultation at Fortune Green Road/Finchley Road junction
  • Pedestrian flows in the area of the three stations at West Hampstead
  • Safety issues regarding traffic light grouping at junction of Broadhurst Gardens and West End Lane.
  • Request for purchase of Oyster cards to be made available from West Hampstead Thameslink Station.

The meeting will be held from 6pm to 8.30pm in the Camden Centre in King’s Cross, Bidborough Street, WC1H 9JE. Do go along if you’re interested, or contact Antony Holloway in the transport strategy service if you have any questions on ku.vo1498670392g.ned1498670392mac@y1498670392awoll1498670392oh.yn1498670392otna1498670392 or 020 7974 2087.

Fairhazelcontraflow

Driving’s hard enough, says CRASH

Back in October last year, Camden asked locals what they thought of some changes to our streets. The most controversial was the provision of “cycle permeability“. In other words, allowing cyclists to pedal the wrong way up one-way streets. Not all one-way streets were included; some, such as Broadhurst Gardens, were considered unsuitable. But many of the quieter residential streets, especially around the Gardens area of South Hampstead were part of the plans.

There were 76 replies to the consultation [pdf], 21 positive, 37 netural and 18 objections. Camden made a couple of tweaks to the plans, but otherwise decided to go ahead. Fairhazel Gardens has had such a system in place for more than 10 years, so one assumes that both the council and cycling lobby groups have sufficient data to make meaningful recommendations. Indeed, looking at a map of pedestrian and cyclist accidents in London from 2000-2010, there wasn’t a single reported bike accident (or pedestrian accident) on Fairhazel Gardens during that period.

Fairhazel Gardens has had contraflow cycling for years

However, South Hampstead Residents’ Association (appropriately, in this case, named CRASH) is not happy. At this late stage, it is appealing for people to write to Camden expressing their horror at this scheme. Their argument is that it is unsafe for cyclists and other road users (the scheme was initially proposed [pdf] by Camden Cyclists). Crash’s argument includes this gem of a debating point (original emphasis):

“You will not only have to keep an eye on your rear mirror and side mirror for cyclists on your left, as usual, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, look forwards and in your right hand mirror for a cyclist on your right”

Imagine having to look forward when driving!

In other words, drivers would have to behave as they would on a normal road – checking both side mirrors and their rear-view mirror, as well as keeping an eye on the road ahead. Or as they have been doing on one-way stretches of Fairhazel Gardens for many years already.

Is there a safety risk? Well, cars should be driving slowly anyway on these residential streets. It’s also up to cyclists to ride responsibly and err on the side of caution (and use lights when it’s dark). But to my mind it doesn’t seem to be beyond the wit of man to accommdate such a thing, even if drivers do occasionally have to look in the direction they’re going.

hotspot

Olympic Travel Part II: How to move around London

I’ve had my whinge about TfL’s model not showing West Hampstead as a hotspot. Now for some more practical advice about travel during the Games. If you are going to an event, I’m sure you’ve already worked out your strategy. I’d recommend the Overground to the Olympic Park, but the Javelin back from Stratford to Kings Cross and then tube or Thameslink home. It’s also less than a 3hr walk from West Hampstead to the stadium if you feel like the exercise.

Tube ¦ Overground ¦ Bus ¦ Rail ¦ Roads ¦ Bikes ¦ Stats

Tube
The Jubilee Line will be exceptionally busy pretty much all the time and is, frankly, going to be best avoided if possible. It’s estimated that 80 percent of all spectators attending Greater London venues will travel by rail, including the Tube.

Here’s what GAOTG says:

“Busiest Section: Bond Street to Stratford
Most affected: Weekdays 7-9.30am eastbound and 4-7.30pm both directions, and from 10pm until last train
Other stations on the Jubilee Line will also be busier than usual at certain times.

  • If possible, try to complete your travel either before 7.30am or after 9.30am or before 4pm or after 7.30pm on weekdays.
  • During the Games, you might find it quicker to travel using a different route to normal or using an alternative station.
  • At busy times, passengers are advised to avoid changing lines at London Bridge, Canada Water, Green Park or Bond Street.”

As always, GAOTG directs you to its funky hotspot map, with a slider so you can see where the busiest stations will be on each day of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Friday August 3rd is going to be busy!

Services will generally start between 5-5.30am, but on Sundays they will start 30-45 minutes earlier than usual, at around 6.30am. This will vary by line and station.

The Tube and DLR will run around 60 minutes later than normal on all days. Last trains from central London will leave around 1.30am.

There’ll be extra evening services on the Jubilee, Central and District lines and more trains running in the late evening from Friday 3 August, when events start at the Olympic Stadium.

On certain days and at certain times of day during the Games, some stations will operate differently. Measures may include entry or exit only at some stations, one-way movement within the station or station closures at stations where capacity is not high enough to deal with the demand. These changes will be signed within the affected stations in advance.

On the Bakerloo, expect a lot more people especially when Wembley is in use. Baker Street station will inevitably be very busy as a major interchange.

The Met Line will also be exceptionally busy when Wembley is in use, and Finchley Road is another hotspot station.

 

Overground
Despite being a direct route to the Olympic Park, our stretch of the Overground has not been singled out as being a major bottleneck, although it will – like everywhere else – be busier than normal. Highbury & Islington in particular will be a busy interchange station.

 

Buses
Buses will run more frequently on many routes to cater for the additional passengers. However, some bus services will need to be temporarily diverted and some stops moved or suspended as a result of the road changes that will be in place.

Thankfully, our local bus routes are barely affected. The good ol’ C11 doesn’t even get a mention in TfL’s 86-page bus route report. The archery at Lords shouldn’t affect the 139, although it is likely to be slow going down Abbey Road/Lisson Grove, as it is when there’s a test match on. The 139 and 189 will also be allowed to turn right off Oxford Street onto Portman Square even though that little stretch is a Games Vehicles only route.

139: On Sunday 5th and Sunday 12th August, and Sunday 9th September, the 139 will terminate at Haymarket because of the marathons. This will be in place until Trafalgar Square reopens.

328: During the men’s and women’s road race (July 28th and 29th), the southbound 328 will terminate at the top of Earl’s Court Road, just off Kensington High Street. This will be in effect all day apparently. Initially, there had been plans to increase the frequency of the 328 generally to service Earls Court, but this is now believed to be unnecessary.

The 328 will terminate in West Kensington during the road races

Those of you who head up the Finchley Road, take note of two changes
113: At Marble Arch, the last stop and stand will be on Orchard Street as the Cumberland Gate bus stand will not be available from 20 July-15 August inclusive.

N113: Restrictions on Whitehall require amendments to out of service turning movements. From Cockspur Street, buses will run via Whitehall and Whitehall Place to stand on Northumberland Avenue and will return directly to Cockspur Street and the line of route. Expected to apply 20 July-15 August inclusive

 

Rail
National Rail services from London will operate later than normal. Last trains to locations within two to three hours of London will typically leave between midnight and 01:00. National Rail will also run longer and/or more frequent trains to and from most venue stations when events are taking place. Remember that Kings Cross St Pancras will be exceptionally busy as that’s where the Javelin trains to Stratford run to/from, and this will be one of the major routes people take to the Olympic Park. Expect lengthy queues.

Here’s what First Capital Connect says about Thameslink:

Trains already run throughout the night from Sunday to Friday on the Thameslink route so we have lengthened 34 of these per week out of London and added one new service on a Saturday night to get people home.

At the weekend we have also doubled in length the majority of our services that run between Wimbledon/Sutton and St Albans/Luton, as well as our Sunday services between East Croydon and Bedford. We have also extended four Sunday services beyond London to Bedford and Brighton.

We have ramped up train fleet maintenance at our depots to provide the extra services and we have cancelled all driver-training during the 2012 Games. We have special plans for the busiest stations we manage where there may be queueing systems. We’ll have over 1,000 additional shifts for customer facing roles. We have also increased our cleaning contract by 175 hours a day.

Oyster users will be charged only the minimum fare if they can’t touch out because of altered station arrangements.

Below are the estimated busy/very busy/extremely busy predictions for Thameslink trains in and out of London (click for full size).

Thameslink heading north out of London
Thameslink heading south into London

 

Roads
The Olympic Route Network doesn’t really affect us very much. Obviously any attempt to drive into central London means running into issues, but in our bit of NW London, the only issues are around Lords and Wembley, and in neither case is there anything too drastic to worry about. The ORN comes into place on Wednesday and runs right through to August 14th. Normal traffic can use the vast majority of the ORN, although there will be temporary changes such as suspended turns, stopping and loading restrictions, and traffic signal timing alterations. Stopping or parking on the ORN will result in a £130 penalty charge and your vehicle may be towed away.

These two maps and a reasonably good video give you some idea of what to expect.

Changes around Lord’s (venue for archery)
Changes around Wembley Stadium

 

 

Bikes
Cycling around London may well be one of the best ways of getting around. Just one thing to note though – many of the central London Boris Bike hire stands will be suspended during the Games.

 

And finally
A few stats from TfL on what London is going to be coping with (and a pretty map showing numbers of spectators on Sunday August 5th)

Sunday 5th (click for full size)

Up to one million extra visitors are expected in London every day during the Games. They will make an additional three million journeys, over and above the regular 12 million journeys made on public transport

During each of the 16 days of the 2012 Games, London will be transport an average of 500,000 spectators and around 55,000 members of the Games Family each day, including athletes and team officials, technical officials, press and broadcasting teams, Olympic and Paralympic families, and marketing partners.

Around 800,000 tickets are available on the busiest days (Friday 3 August for the transport network, although overall more tickets are available on Saturday 4 August) – 510,000 of which will be for London-­based venues.

Life in the slow lane

Not only is Camden hell bent on letting cyclists ride whichever way they choose up one-way streets, it’s also trying to slow traffic down in West Hampstead as well. It’s almost like there’s some sort of concerted plan to improve things in the area. Crazy.

As with the cycling plans, this will be paid for by TfL and the rationale seems to be safety. Much of West Hampstead (aside from West End Lane) already has a 20mph limit. However, many of the residential roads to the west and West End Lane itself are still 30mph and the council claims these roads have a relatively poor safety record compared to neighbouring 20mph streets. Indeed, between September 2007 and September 2010, 39 collisions were reported, resulting in four serious injuries.

In addition to signage, traffic calming measures are being proposed. On the residential streets, the junction of Sumatra Road and Glenbrook Road will be raised and road humps will be added at the junction of Solent Road and Glenbrook Road (just on Solent Rd, not the entire junction).

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On West End Lane itself, the 20mph zone will run from the junction with Quex Road in the south, to the junction with Mill Lane and Fortune Green Road in the north.

There will be three other measures to improve road safety: the pavement running north from Inglewood Road will be widened – the council claims this will improve the aesthetic appeal of the street and the narrower road will help slow traffic. An island will be added to the zebra crossing that links Barclays Bank to the library, apparently in response to observations that cars do not always wait until pedestrians have completed their crossing before driving on (remember your Highway Code?). Finally, the island on the crossing at Lymington Road (the one by Tescos) will be removed and the pavement on the southern edge extended. In addition, all the signs indicating a change of speed limit to and from West End Lane can now be removed, reducing street clutter and there is the potential to remove more signage (this has been mooted for some time and some steps have already been taken around the entrance to the tube station).

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The residential road changes seem like no-brainers. I would be interested to know how many of the collisions that have taken place on West End Lane have happened at speeds in excess of 20mph, given that during the daytime the traffic is so slow-moving anyway there is little opportunity to reach 30mph. I am certainly in favour of removing excess signage and street clutter, although narrowing the road seems unncessary, given the number of buses and delivery vehicles that already contribute to bottlenecks on the road. The aim should surely be to encourage free-flowing traffic moving at a safe speed.

As with all speed limit issues, be it on motorways or residential streets, the issue is one of enforcement more than regulation.

For more comment on this issue, see Georgia’s article in the Camden New Journal.

The council is keen to hear from local residents and businesses to find out whether there is broad support for the proposals for the side streets, and whether the proposals for West End Lane would cause disruption during and after implementation. You need to make sure your letter or e-mail is received by November 11th and send it to:

London Borough of Camden
Culture and Environment Directorate
Transport Strategy Service
FREEPOST RLZH-UEYC-ACZZ
LONDON
WC1H 8EQ

or e-mail ku.vo1498670392g.ned1498670392mac@s1498670392otaru1498670392okak.1498670392atsoc1498670392, making sure you include your postal address.

Here’s the full document on the side streets, and on West End Lane.