A London Assembly Member has called on Mayor Sadiq Khan to get Transport for London to go back to the drawing board with its latest proposals for the Fiveways junction on the Purley Way and “come back with a set of proposals which work for people, not just cars”.Caroline Russell is a Green Party AM. Earlier this month she used Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall to ask Khan whether the TfL designs to turn Fiveways into Fourways met the demands of his own “Healthy Streets” policy. Khan was unable to provide any answers, in an embarrassing public disconnect over a question which his staff had had prior notice.
Russell has warmly welcomed “Healthy Streets”, which she calls “strong stuff with lots of policy for walking, cycling and using buses that is really sensible”. A key aspect of Khan’s transport strategy is to have more roads where “cyclists, aged from eight to 80, can feel safe to ride to school, or work or just to get around.”
But, like Croydon cycling campaigners who described the latest proposals as making the route “more dangerous” for bike riders, Russell has been shocked by what TfL has issued for the latest round of consultation over the A23 and A232 junctions near Waddon Station.
“It’s not a road designed to make it safe for an eight-year-old to ride to school,” Russell told Inside Croydon.
“It’s clear that whoever it was at TfL who drafted the plans for the latest consultation never got the memo about ‘Healthy Streets’,” she said.
Russell says that she has had meetings with Will Norman, Khan’s recently appointed “walking and cycling commissioner”.
“Will told me that, basically, Fiveways is a ‘legacy scheme’ left over from the previous Mayor’s time in office.
“Well, frankly, that’s simply not good enough.
“The previous Mayor’s strategy was all about ‘smoothing traffic flow’, all about making it easier for the car. That’s not what the present Mayor’s ‘Healthy Streets’ policy is supposed to be about. This scheme has come down the tracks without being checked.“The junction at Fiveways needs to be a lot more civilised, for pedestrians as well as for cyclists. The current design is not one that works for people. It forces cyclists to ‘merge’ with traffic at the junctions, and at the road crossings, it gives pedestrians just scraps of time in between the phasing of the lights for the cars, while they are fenced-in, in pens like sheep, waiting for an opportunity to get to the other side of the road.
“TfL needs to start all over again,” Russell said.
“They need to review it urgently, with a proper ‘Healthy Streets’ approach. Roads are not just for vehicles.”
Having already raised the disconnect between Mayor Khan’s own transport policy and what TfL has produced for this second Fiveways consultation (“I was surprised at how badly briefed he was by his team,” she said), Russell – a London-wide Assembly Member – intends to press the point before the consultation is completed.
To date, the elected representatives for the area – Conservative MP for Croydon South Chris Philp and Tory Assembly Member for Sutton and Croydon “Silent” Steve O’Connell – have said nothing publicly in the interests of their constituents. Labour councillors for Waddon ward did attend the first consultation session staged at Waddon Leisure Centre last week, where they heard several residents from across the borough express a range of reservations about the scheme.
Russell is also dismayed that Croydon Council, for its part, is only adding to the potential congestion on the Purley Way with a school’s transport policies. “I find it quite astonishing that the local council is encouraging people to drive their children to school and has arranged for pupils attending a new primary school near the junction to be dropped off by their parents in a supermarket car park,” she said. “It is just adding to the problem.”
The air quality near the Purley Way, and the Fiveways junction in particular, is among the worst polluted parts of London.
Speaking today following the Government’s announcement that it intends to ban all petrol- and diesel-fuelled motor vehicles in 23 years’ time, Russell said, “Fixing the problem of polluted London air needs much more than the promise of a ban by 2040, by then hundreds of thousands of people will have had their health worsened or died from causes related to polluted air.“The Mayor’s draft transport strategy has a specific goal of reducing the traffic on our roads. This should be the central focus for the Government too – alongside measures that enable people to travel differently.
“Instead of shunting the responsibility on to councils, the Government should be investing in rail electrification, electric buses and networks of routes for walking and cycling. The important thing is not diesel scrappage for individuals to upgrade their vehicles but providing incentives to get people out of their cars and on to public transport, and walking and cycling
“We know diesel and petrol are poisoning our air but switching to electric cars won’t solve our pollution problem and let people trust the air we breathe.
“We will still be left with street-clogging congestion, lethal pm2.5 particle pollution and the misery of road danger.
“If the Government had any imagination they would see the unmitigated disaster of air pollution as an opportunity to rid our towns cities and villages of the problems of congestion, parking and noise while improving people’s health and cutting NHS costs.”
There are further public exhibitions of TfL’s Fiveways proposals at the Waddon Leisure Centre this Saturday, July 29 (11.30am-3pm), August 12 (11.30am-3pm) and September 7 (4pm-8pm), with another session at St George’s on Barrow Road on September 9 (noon-4pm).
The consultation is open for submissions until September 18, and the full documentation can be viewed online at tfl.gov.uk/fiveways-croydon
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