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Elephant & Castle Northern Roundabout - latest plans

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Current: 18 of 22
Wednesday 14 May 2014 2.34pm
The presentation of these figures is quite misleading. When you say "in and around the Elephant and Castle" the geographic scope of that is actually huge. The figure provided by TfL for the 3 years to May 2013 in and around the north roundabout is 104. 104 is still bad, but it's not 300. Of these only 5 collisions involved pedestrians (non were fatal) in comparison with 49 involving cyclists and 21 involving two-wheeled powered vehicles. You can analyse the full set of data by location here: (TfL raw files are as they provide the data, TfL annotated files include my analysis and comments).

The death of Hichame was at neither the north roundabout nor the southern junction at the Elephant and Castle but at the T-junction of St George's Road and Garden Row at a pedestrian crossing where the implementation of TfL's policy to remove guard rails (championed by their Ben Plowden ex of the campaign group Living Streets) within weeks coincided with Hichame's death - and the local press quoted the family as citing the removal of the guard rails as a contributory factor. Ironically, and with an appalling lack of logic, this death triggered local campaigner Jeremy Leach to advocate even more pedestrian crossings just like the one where Hichame was killed and even got his class mates to paint pictures of the crossings as propaganda. TfL's Ben Plowden cited this campaign in an e-mail to me as justification for the proposed Bodge at the North Roundabout.

While I have no data for the period since May 2013 I am not aware from local press coverage of an sudden surge in accidents in and around the Elephant and Castle. That will of course come later if the proposed Bodge goes ahead, as cyclists are encouraged to use the junction more (this is my understanding of LCC's view) and collision-free pedestrian space is obliterated to be replaced by slower and risk-inducing surface level crossings.

It's baffling that improving pedestrian safety at the north roundabout is cited as such a priority when the stats suggest pedestrians are the safest of all users. What pedestrians need is simplified routes, clearer wayfinding and a significantly improved quality of the surfaces and lighting to remove the huge misperception of subterranean crime.

spindrift wrote:
In the past two and a half years, almost 300 people have been injured on the roads in and around the Elephant & Castle. Since Christmas 2011, four pedestrians have died including most recently five year-old Hichame Bouadimi.
Thursday 15 May 2014 3.51pm
You have put a lot of effort into this! SOuthwark needs interested local people like you. However, I didn't think TfL's plan was just about pedestrian accidents? So I don't quite understand your post above.

For me it is simple:
Is the current situation ok, NO
Will the TfL new scheme be better than now, probably YES
Is there a better solution, MAYBE

I really don't see the loss of the subways as the biggest issue.
Thursday 15 May 2014 5.09pm
johnnytee wrote:
You have put a lot of effort into this! SOuthwark needs interested local people like you. However, I didn't think TfL's plan was just about pedestrian accidents? So I don't quite understand your post above.
For me it is simple:
Is the current situation ok, NO
Will the TfL new scheme be better than now, probably YES
Is there a better solution, MAYBE

I really don't see the loss of the subways as the biggest issue.

You're right the proposal isn't just about pedestrian accidents, I'm sorry if I gave the impression I thought it was. The TfL team, in meetings with me and e-mails with me have presented the brief as (1) improve cycle safety (2) improve pedestrian safety (3) make it 'a place to be' rather than just a place to pass through. That's it. The brief also included the London wide TfL policy and Southwark Council aspiration of subway demolition regardless of the usage / crime stats.

The current situation isn't good - no one is campaigning for either preservation or restoration. It's particularly dangerous for those on two wheels and it's generally considered a confusing and quite an unpleasant experience for pedestrians, particularly those unfamiliar with the area, even though it's currently overwhelmingly more safe for them than other users be it a risk of collision or crime.

But when a repair is needed a Bodge is not the solution. Superficially it can appear to be a gesture of care and effort, but in reality it's a clumsy waste of time and money because rather than applying bespoke craftsmanship to the specific issue the slap dash solution just creates worse ones to follow and no money or momentum left to address them. Any keen DIYer knows this.

Many consider the TfL brief wrong. It's not their job to make The Elephant a place 'to be', which is perhaps just a terrible euphemism for all round grid lock! It's there job to make it safe and pleasant to move around. The piazza is their expression of 'a place to be', a pointless blight in The Ring road that is seen by TfL and the council as developer friendly, even though the new shopping centre will be orientated towards the retail hub of Walworth Road (Delancey tell me so) and no one wants responsibility for its upkeep. Look for example how quickly the use of celebrity designer Martha Schwartz park at St Marys Churchyard has fallen into disrepair after £1.5m was spent on it in 2008. Witherford Watson Man's yet to be revealed doodlings for this piazza will be their office embarrassment - they are gilding a turd of a 'place to be'. This piazza will contribute to enlarging The Ring road, making a 6 lane dual carriageway, felling four mature trees, more congestion for almost every user in every direction including the most busy pedestrian route by 41%, and raise air pollution - picture the most polluted portions of London's Inner Ring Road. It will encourage risky pedestrian behaviour skipping red lights. The piazza will be an unpopular and pointless blight when there are already 5 new parks and squares under development very near that are not adjacent to a clogging ring road. It's also negligent to implement a London wide anti-subway policy in a context where subways have served the area for over 100 years and are still busy and evidently safe despite their dilapidation and misleading signage....
Friday 16 May 2014 5.37pm
Many also consider the plans, while not perfect, to be a huge advance on what we already have. I'd like to see cycle provision improved but otherwise am happy with the idea of the new public space and very happy to see the back of the subways.
Friday 16 May 2014 6.51pm
What would be interesting, if we had more visionary leadership, is that with the news from LCC the two south corners of the roundabout are up for demolition. If done properly, we could be building a fantastic Tube-Rail-Bus interchange using the freed up space - but sadly there seems to be no one in City Hall or Southwark with a radical mind...
Friday 16 May 2014 11.00pm
Nor, I'm afraid, the cash to do it under present circumstances. Sad, but true.
Sunday 18 May 2014 3.27pm
jaycee wrote:
Nor, I'm afraid, the cash to do it under present circumstances. Sad, but true.

There's definitely the cash to make a much better interchange, but there just isn't the joined up thinking. It's bonkers that the proposals exist in the context of imminent redevelopment of the shopping centre where the tube station could be made to better integrate with pedestrian access to the street and railway station.

As for the piazza. If it gets made, judge it three years in once the gloss of newness as been replaced by the grime of half hearted maintenance. I anticipate a shabby obviously unpleasant space maintained on a shoestring budget by TfL as the roundabout is now, with the supposedly high quality design crumbling around us, their gilding of a turd of a transport design with some big name architects proving to be spray on glitter - like Martha Schwartz contribution to St Mary's Churchyard in 2008. People will choose to hangout in other public spaces and pedestrians will shuffle through dodging cyclists on their link route. There's plenty of precedents for this to happen and an tremendous enthusiasm from all organisations to hand over the space for someone else to maintain (and no I'll not be taking up an requests!)
Sunday 18 May 2014 3.32pm
Tremendous manipulation by TfL's slippery Leon Daniels in the Evening Standard.

The southern junction morphs into the northern roundabout in this article... hey presto TfL are on the case already.

I do hope Wednesday's campaigning makes clear both the southern junction needs improvements (not proposed by TfL) and TfL plans for the northern roundabout also need improvement. TfL can so easily say: "yes there's a problem, we're on the case" if the two junctions are confused without any change from their position a week ago.
Thursday 21 August 2014 12.26pm
Following their survey, I have just received the following reply from TFL:
Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your views on our proposals to transform Elephant & Castle Northern Roundabout.
After carefully considering all of the feedback received, we have made the decision to proceed with the scheme. This will include taking forward the design for northbound off-carriageway cycling provision along the Elephant and Castle Link Road as outlined in Option B. However, following feedback from the consultation and further traffic modelling, we will be making a number of modifications to the design.
A full report detailing the responses received during the consultation, our response to many of the issues raised, and a full explanation of the changes to the proposed design is now available at
In summary, the key changes we are proposing to the plans consulted on include:
• Progressing with the design in Option B but with a widened footway and a commitment to carefully consider the materials used to build the off-carriageway cycle lane in order to manage the risk of pedestrian/cycle conflict
• Considering additional improvements for cyclists who wish to remain on the carriageway, such as widening the bus lane on the Elephant and Castle Link Road northbound to 4.5m to offer space for cyclists to overtake buses, and introducing a new cycle feeder lane on the approach to St Georges Road to offer better protection to cyclists approaching the junction
• Following concerns about the safety of the proposed cycle lane with segregated kerb southbound on the Elephant and Castle Link Road, we will instead offer a 4.5m bus lane and use road markings to encourage bus drivers to exit in agreed places. This should provide more space for cyclists overtaking buses and also make the potential conflict points clearer to cyclists
• To address concerns about the right turn cycle movement into London Road, a two stage cycle crossing will be provided which will enable cyclists to cross in parallel and on the same signal phase as pedestrians
• Following concerns about congestion and queuing we will add an additional right turn lane into St Georges Road to ensure traffic can clear through this turn. We will also add an additional lane on the approach to the junction from New Kent Road. The space for these additional lanes will be taken from the peninsula and will not move the highway closer to residential buildings
• We will reduce London Road from four to three traffic lanes. This will retain the three mature trees, ensure the road does not significantly move closer to residential properties and will also offer a better road layout for cyclists
• Following concerns about waiting and crossing times at the new pedestrian crossings we will increase the ‘green man invitation to cross’ times on a number of the crossings. However, most journeys will have increases in average travel time from waiting at signals, which will be similar to other crossings at busy junctions in London

We are also exploring implementing a 20mph limit through the junction. This would help to regulate traffic speeds and improve overall safety conditions for all users of the junction.
We are still considering the re-location of the bus stop for services towards Camberwell. Discussions are on-going with the owners of the new shopping centre regarding their design and the plans for the new London Underground station entrance. Once more is known we will be able to make a firm decision.

Now the decision has been taken to proceed, the updated design will be subject to a detailed design process and more detailed safety audits. It is expected that construction work will commence in late spring 2015. The main highway works are scheduled to take approximately one year to complete.

We have commissioned urban design specialists to design the new areas of public space that are being created, as well as looking more broadly at the design for the wider urban realm across the interchange area. We are working closely with LB Southwark, the new owners of the shopping centre site and other key stakeholders to ensure plans evolve jointly. We will engage with local residents and users of the interchange on these plans later in the year.
Thursday 21 August 2014 7.28pm
TfL's conclusions are pretty devastating. They have ignored a vast amount of the concerns and they have made some things even worse - the enlargement of The Ring road is now a whole lane bigger! Cycle lanes have been taken away from the earlier proposal. Pleas from many for a pedestrian crossing to match desire lines (e.g. Elephant Road across New Kent Road) have been ignored. All users loose out here because they take such a blinkered approach, ignoring the role of better cycle bypasses, and taking space / capacity out of the system for pedestrians and motorists despite forecasts that the transport network in central London will be under much greater pressure in the future - quite obvious here when you look at all the high density development.

All the campaigning has however achieved one small victory, retaining the three trees on London Road. The vast plane tree will still go on the roundabout, and possibly other trees will be felled to accommodate the huge new 7-8 lane ring road.

I learnt that 20% of people did not agree with the removal of the subways. While 80% fell for TfL's manipulative push poll or knowingly signed their death warrant, 20% support for subways is still pretty satisfying given that bulldozers like Cllr Peter John and his cumbersome cronies said they'd never heard anyone ever suggest they shouldn't be demolished. Enjoy them while they're there, crossing the road here will never be the same again, it'll be a lot slower and more dangerous.

A few years on from now the successors to Ben Plowden at TfL and the politicians and redevelopers who replace the current complicit set of naive optimists will look back at this saga and wonder how bafflingly stupid their predecessors were to see no potential in underground space at this congested place, no potential in investing in side roads for cyclists, and pitiful for the pointless piazza which became a blight at the centre of the neighbourhood - you only have to look at the dilapidated mess of St Mary's Churchyard 6 years after it was redeveloped to see that employing star architects is no ingredient for success (Why should WWM be any better than Martha Schwarz, their most significant landscape design is just a metaphorical forest). Not a single tree TfL has planted in the two local junctions where they have already destroyed subways has flourished. Dead trees haunt the graves of the subway entrances at Bricklayers Arms less than a year after planting and the eight trees at the Elephant's southern junction still struggle to sprout a few leaves four years on, pathetic feeble specimens doomed from the start because of bad planting and a symbol to the observant of why TfL should not be trusted with any greening.

It's a sad day for the Elephant. A great missed opportunity to invest in a genuine improvement.
Current: 18 of 22

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