Monday 10 December 2012 5.16pm
"The reality is that pedestrian subways -- anywhere -- send the message that cars should be prioritised over human beings."
- I agree that the street level is, in most cases, the premium location for any user in a city, rather than underground or an elevated space, many people like to be grounded, but where ever space exists it has a value. These proposals destroy space. This is tremendously wasteful when space is at such a premium in a congested city. Space is cheap to destroy, expensive to create. Ideally cars at The Elephant would be underground or elsewhere but this campaign seeks to be realistic.
"By removing the subways, all pedestrians will be forced to use these ground-level crossings. As a result, traffic speeds will be reduced at the roundabout as vehicles are forced to jostle with hundreds more pedestrians."
- That sounds like some kind of Roman form of entertainment, throw the people to the lions! "Forced" & "Jostle" are surely worse than going underground, especially as that underground are not long tunnels, are more direct routes than what I've seen proposed so far.
"Eventually, this traffic will choose new routes -- or disappear completely -- in order to bypass the roundabout."
This is wishful thinking, and while I admire optimism I think it's wildly optimistic here given TfL's stance for managing roads and Southwark's hope for extending traffic calming on the roads they control. The roundabout is a key node on the inner ring road, it's the edge of the congestion charge zone. Remember TfL will not let traffic volumes decrease at Elephant and Castle, the pedestrian crossings will not be very friendly ones for those on foot, the car remains king. To deter traffic other measures are called for: decreasing road capacity for example or extending the congestion charge zone as far south as the next major concentric road such as outwards west and east from Camberwell Green.
"pedestrian subways are a relic of bygone era when cars were prioritised over human beings, and that era is now over."
London is a city full of relics from bygone eras. Many go through a period of being deeply unfashionable before people get over fashion and see these assets for what they are. The magnificent railway terminus at St Pancras was due for demolition. Road building was prioritised over the anicent underground for many years, we still use antique bridges and enjoy great ancient architecture. The attitude of "it's a relic, destroy it" isn't what London has been for most of it's history (except in post war Elephant & Castle!) which is why is one reason it's such a tremendous city. The pedestrian subways from 1958 reflect the ambitious efforts city planners made to accommodate the heavy demand of road and pedestrian users at the Elephant and Castle. The proposals to destroy the subways have no ambition. They naively and crudely imitate a fashion for shared space and, as you imply, force pedestrians to fight it out with the car. You believe the pedestrians will win this battle and their jostling will send motorists elsewhere. I don't. That is not TfL's objective. TfL's objective is to pacify the bleats of Southwark Council
and Lend Lease's regen marketing department and also pacify the very vocal cycling lobby who it seems, as you articulate, want to force pedestrians into becoming traffic calming measures for their own benefit.