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Bermondsey Street ‘home zone’ proposal wins backing

Bermondsey Street could become a 'home zone' where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over motor vehicles, if a proposal heard by councillors on Wednesday night comes to fruition.

Barry Mason, coordinator of 620-strong Southwark Cyclists, made the formal deputation at Wednesday's meeting of Bermondsey Community Council held at Aylwin Girls' School in Southwark Park Road.

Mason spoke about how Bermondsey Street has been changing fast, with the More London development to the north and the Bermondsey Square construction work finally getting under way to the south.

"It's time the traffic of Bermondsey Street was looked at hard," said Mason.

"One way streets aren't very friendly places, especially to pedestrians and cyclists. Motor traffic tends to over-dominate what could be wonderful public spaces."

"We're here tonight to ask the meeting to agree a look at the way all traffic uses the street. And by traffic I mean lorries, cars, vans, motorbikes, scooters and human-powered traffic too ... pedestrians and cyclists."

Mason outlined six possible alternatives for Bermondsey Street, and invited further suggestions from councillors and members of the public.

Home Zone: "Where pedestrians rule and where there are no through vehicles at all, and where all other vehicles that either live or have business in the area creep about at walking pace."
Pedestrianised Zone: "All paved over. Where only emergency vehicles are allowed most of the time."
Slow Street: "Where the one-way system is abolished and vehicles allowed through both ways but at walking pace."
Access Only: "So that motor vehicles only use the street to go home or make deliveries."
Cycle contraflow: "The only change is that cyclists are allowed to ride north-south as well."
Do nothing

Mason explained that he had already opened the debate with a number of local organisations, including West Bermondsey Community Forum, Green Lanes and Southwark Living Streets – who had all backed the idea of a study of how Bermondsey Street is used.

Mason reminded the meeting that "consultation on Southwark's huge Local Implementation Plan has found a lot of support throughout the borough for Home Zones. Somewhere needs to be first. Let's be brave enough."

"I'd very much like this meeting to agree a simple request. That the meeting formally asks Southwark Council to study the various alternatives for Bermondsey Street, to talk to those affected and to report back to the next meeting with recommendations."

Cllr Stephen Flannery (Riverside ward) reminded the meeting that Transport for London would need to be involved in any changes to the status of Bermondsey Street.

The deputation was well-received by councillors who agreed to support Mason's approach to TfL and receive a report back to the Community Council on TfL's formal response.

Comment on this proposal in our forum
• For more information contact Barry Mason of Southwark Cyclists on 07905 889005.
Bermondsey Community Council meets every six weeks and is made up of the councillors for Riverside, Grange and South Bermondsey wards. Its meetings are open to all. The next general meeting is at Aylwin Girls' School on Wednesday 15 March.

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