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Elephant & Castle Northern Roundabout - latest plans

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Saturday 22 March 2014 11.23am
Perronetonian, whilst I admire your teanity and desire to spend what would be several tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of taxpayer's money and cause untold disruption for an untold amount of time by the excavating all of Elephant and Castle to create a luxurious, Toronto PATH type, troglodyte underworld for us all to enjoy during working hours only (there is no way on earth you could profitably let retail space to decent tenants in such places that was open and unprotected overnight), you really are on a hiding to nothing. The subways WILL be filled in and your tireless, but futile campaign will come to a frustrated and ignominious end when the contractors finally arrive to fill your beloved subways in.

I would urge you not to fight for their retention, but to put all your effort into demanding a better scheme. I can see several flaws in the current one.

1. I think the cycle link is dangerous and will lead to conflict with the agressive and nasty section of the cyling community (they are by no means all polite, tree hugging luvies as I'm sure you know).

2. I think the NKR/east side Newington Causeway crossing is particularly badly placed and in the absence of barriers this will lead to people crossing where they should not to speed their route.

3. I think there is far too much emphasis on the Bakerloo Line entrance to Northern Line/shopping centre route, when it is the aforementioned NKR/Newington Causeway route that is probably the busiest of the lot (albeit that the confusing subways mean people tend to use this route for simplicity and because of the complete lack of surface level alternatives unless they have a deathwish).

4. I think the access issues with MCH have not been considered at all.

5. I think that the opportunity to improve the confusing way that bus stops and routes don't integrate has not been thought about in what is certainly one of the most imoprtant (and confusing) transport interchanges in London.

I'm sure there are a whole load of other issues to/from directions that I rarely use (often because I avoid them simply because they mean using the subways - I'd rather walk round and run across the road dodging traffic or avoid the location entirely) This sort of thing (the driving of pedestrians into a confusing, troglodte underworld) has been to the detrrement of businesses and hampered pedestrian circulation in the area for years.

You can, for example, often see where you want to go, but even after living here for 15 years I still have no clue where some of the subways go or how to get to some places without resort to running across the road. I know I am not alone here, and I suspect these issues will be made all the worse with the addition of hundreds of skyscraper homes to the south side of E&C. I can tell you right now that with the subways in place all the retail space associated with the One The Elephant development will remain vacant for years or will only ever be let to the very low grade retailers we already have to many of around Elephant now.

I'll certainly be dropping in to let them know my thoughts at the exhibition next week and I have already responded on the consultation web site. I really would urge you to forget the path you are currently on and fight for a better deal for everyone in the area. I'm sure there is one just trying to get out from under the poorly thought out one we are being presented with at the moment.
Saturday 22 March 2014 11.40am
Subway removal is just one of the many errors, which is why the campaign is far broader than that and includes support from people both for and against the subways. What is proposed is a Bodge on many counts. We need something better. Last Monday at LCC we launched an invitation for a real consultation, to invite people to propose better - download the broad brief here and read TfL's data to give yourself a little foundation The current data is at

We have also provided a detailed critique of the current proposal - please see the map at Your criticisms are helpful additional observations and backup. We also suggest 20 questions to put to TfL when you meet them next week

As for disruption... well their proposal is planned to be 12 months of construction, and as a neighbour of the roundabout (as I assume from your handle you're not), I'd rather have a long period of pain for years ahead of gain than a quicker bodge. Your pessimism about the economic viability of subterranean retail space here doesn't stack up. It works at Silicon Roundabout.
Saturday 22 March 2014 12.14pm
I'm afraid it doesn't work at Silicon roundabout either. And if that is what you aspire to then lord help us all. Despite the fact that it has the benefit of a tube station at it's heart and a high level of high earner pedestrians going through it, they struggle to keep even mag and fag retailers in the subways.

I am aware that they have rencently managed to get a few more interesting retailers in there, but any idea you could hope to get as much as a fag and mag retailer into such a place at E&C is utterly fanciful when they struggle to get these in the Shopping Centre.

The simple fact is that the only people in the subways at Old Street tend to be the ones going to and from the station and they tend to want to get out of the place as quickly as possible. Almost every one crosses the road at the surface, but the lack of crossings on the east side means that. Instead of being the sort of vibrant place the area's reputation suggests it is, instead, a dreadful and hostile one with half decent cafes on one side (the one easist to reach at street level and en route to places where those high earners want to go) and low grade stuff on the side hardest to reach without resort to the subways. It's as much in need of a complete rethink as E&C is.
Tuesday 25 March 2014 3.06pm
Transport for London are at London College of Communications Typo Cafe between 4pm and 8pm to answer questions about their proposal to bodge the roundabout. I hear they have a video simulation too.

Here are 20 questions you could ask them?

1. Why is the cycle superhighway crossing London Road and St George’s Road not incorporated in your scheme despite its route being within the boundaries of your diagram? You incorporate other transport infrastructure but play down the significance of existing provision for cyclists adjacent to the junction.

2. Why are you not making use of any more adjacent quiet side roads for cyclists to use (e.g. Princess Street, Elephant Road, Ontario Street, Rockingham Street, Brook Drive?)

3. How will pedestrians and cyclists safely share the “Cycle Link” on the peninsula as they flow against each other? Your artists impression shows zero zoning.

4. Do you differentiate between confident road-going cyclists and less confident cycle lane users? If so how does this design reflect that segmentation? If not why not?

5. Why is green infrastructure being heavily included in your promotion but intended to be part of a separate consultation in summer 2014?

6. Why are the two huge new LED advertising hoardings on the roundabout missing in your artistic impressions? Is the council seriously considering giving up this income having just granted them permission in 2013?

7. Why must four mature trees be felled?

8. How does creating a peninsula in place of roundabout help improve the flow of road users and pedestrians at this busy junction?

9. Are you intending to change the use of the junction from one that is primarily a place to pass through to one that is a place to hang out?

10. Do you think people will want to hangout next to six lanes of chugging ring road traffic?

11. Why must London Road have three extra lanes, two new ones for motorists?

12. Why must you remove pavement a whole lane wide on the south side of London Road, along with three mature trees?

13. Why is it acceptable to make London’s inner ring road bigger at this junction?

14. Why is it acceptable to increase air pollution by any amount at this junction? What are you doing to mitigate it for residents and users?

15. Why can’t you make any journeys here quicker instead of slower as this proposal will make all of them, bus users, cyclists, motorists and pedestrians?

16. How many of these new pedestrian crossings let me cross the whole road in one go?

17. How much time will people have to cross the road at all these junctions? How many seconds on green, how many on red?

18. What provision are you making for the increased pedestrian congestion at the bus stops where you are shrinking the pavements at (1) London Road south side (2) Newington Causeway west side (3) Elephant & Castle west side (your option B).

19. Will buses on the Elephant & Castle Road, St George’s Road, New Kent Road and Newington Causeway be forced to queue in their lane? If so how will this affect bus journey times? If not, how will you avoid congestion or collisions, particularly with cyclists heading north at the Elephant & Castle road?

20. What are you planning to do to preserve, recreate or replace the murals in the seven subways or the colourful tile work designed by LCC students in the 1990s?
Wednesday 26 March 2014 3.16pm
I went to the consultation event yesterday, and it seemed very much like the plans are a foregone conclusion. The TfL rep I spoke to said that removing subways was becoming TfL's approach across London, not just at this site, and that the plans were an attempt to Balance the needs of all users equally. I really don't think this should be the approach they take at a junction like this - all users aren't equal, and the needs of people walking, cycling and using buses should be prioritised over driving.

As a local resident, and not a campaigner or 'stakeholder' I didn't really feel like the event was very welcoming - it struck me as an attempt for TfL to explain what they're doing rather than genuinely seek opinions as to whether what they've planned is the right thing.

As an aside, former councillor Kim Humphreys was also there - I understand he's now working on behalf of the property developers who own the shopping centre. So at least someone's benefitting from the multi-million pound regeneration of Southwark.
Thursday 27 March 2014 10.53am
"the plans were an attempt to Balance the needs of all users equally. I really don't think this should be the approach they take at a junction like this - all users aren't equal, and the needs of people walking, cycling and using buses should be prioritised over driving."

^^ this a thousand times! It is very sad that TfL don't see it like this, but that is a refelction of the Mayor I think...
Thursday 27 March 2014 11.24am
Here's a chart I made using TfL's collision data at the roundabout for the 3 years to May last year. It shows inequality at the moment - cyclists are the clear losers. The genius of TfL with their proposal is to create equality by simply ratcheting down cyclist collisions while ratcheting up pedestrian collisions. In that way everyone's equally likely to get clonked.

It's an argument I don't buy, but why else would pedestrian space in which you simply cannot have a collision (and to top it all are less likely to be a victim of crime in) get replaced by crossings on which it's possible to have a collision, particularly given the indirect routes, two phase crossings and frustrating longer journey times.

The smell of urine, the inaccurate signage, the poor lighting, the peeling murals in the busiest two subways... non of these cause injury nor are beyond fixing. But the almost religious anti-subway dogma of officials and some fans of the plans makes them blind to this.

Perceptions get in the way of possibilities. Subway detractors equate the space to a punishing underworld, a degrading option just like their 20th century equivalents cheered as railway lines were ripped up as an antiquated, dirty, second class way to get around versus the liberating open road - and how wrong they were weren't they? Mayor Boris Johnson, Cllr Peter John, Cllr Fiona Colley, Southwark Regen Officer Jon Abbot, Deputy Mayor Isabel Dedring and all those on the secretive Elephant Stakeholder Group and the so-called safer streets campaigner Jeremy Leach etc - you are disciples of Dr Beeching and will carry responsibility for the increased pedestrian collision rate should your Bodge go ahead. I dare to predict cyclist collisions won't be much improved either because they're given new obstacles by the proposal rather than being encouraged onto the space of adjacent side roads.

Thursday 27 March 2014 12.22pm
Perronetonian wrote:
why else would pedestrian space in which you simply cannot have a collision (and to top it all are less likely to be a victim of crime in) get replaced by crossings on which it's possible to have a collision

People cross unsafely now because they don't want to use, don't understand/know about, or just don't like the subways. And having lots of railings didn't stop that. It is, for many people, simply human nature to cross at the most direct point, and avoiding steps and ramps if possible. Surface crossings work to human nature, not against it.

Honestly, please, forget the subways and help campaign to try to get Boris to re-instate the road user hierarchy - that he scrapped to get votes in outer London - that prioritised the most vulnerable road users. And then how about trying to influence TfL to get the signal timings on the roundabout to favour pedestrians more. With a few keyboard strokes all the times you quote for surface crossings in the revised layouts could be improved. It will probably have to wait for Boris to go, but he won't be mayor for ever (I hope) and it can and will happen with pressure from residents.
Thursday 27 March 2014 12.36pm
Luke, I would love to see Boris cross the crossing by driscoll house, pushing a wheelchair or pushcair holding a childs hand at the same time..7 seconds.
Thursday 27 March 2014 12.56pm
Yes I've seen some people cross 'unsafely' now (Luke where's your data?) but the 5 pedestrian collisions over 3 years (none fatal) measured and informing the TfL scheme show that at the two locations most usually cited by TfL and the anti-subway brigade as dangerous (St George's Road and between the Tabernacle and Shopping Centre) between them have had 1 collision in 3 years. And the most dangerous one (New Kent Road) gets one of the weakest alternatives. This crossing is currently by far the busiest in the subways, more than double any other, yet it's here that TfL's provision for pedestrians at surface is particularly poor, even subway-loathing pre-20th-century-infrastructure-loving Jeremy Leach acknowledges that. The TfL plan works like this for New Kent Road = make the busiest pedestrian crossing at the junction which is also the most dangerous for them even more dangerous by forcing people to cross at surface (over a 1000 an hour in rush hour) and move the crossing away from their desire line! Genius.

Human nature in the context of a busy dangerous junction is to be influenced by design, yet your inference is 'put everyone on the surface and our instinctive nature will all mean everyone happily safely shares the space together'. That Luke is poppy cock on so many counts and the kind of fluffy nonsense currently fuelling TfL's dogma against subways in every context. It's the seduction of "shared space" (a good transport design approach in some locations) gone silly.

The campaign against the proposed changes at the junction is on many issues. Subways are an integral part of the solution but their demolition is by no means the only issue causing the increased congestion, pollution and dangers.

Unless you think the proposal is perfect why not campaign for a better one publicly too and point out a few other flaws rather than bash those of us here who are doing our best against the presumptuous and well resourced politicians and planners? Subways have been the headline issue for us since the campaign launched in 2012 because it's been on the table as an objective by TfL and Southwark for years and because destroying any space, however neglected is so counter intuitive to a massively growing high rise neighbourhood. As someone with a decade of passionately caring for neglected space around here I can perhaps see their value a little more clearly than those who can't see beyond their disgruntled noses. But no, instead you're putting years of effort into carving up the SE17 SE1 borderland into a wonky neighbourhood (with reference to this thread ... so perhaps you don't really understand the junction very well?
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