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Elephant & Castle Northern Roundabout - latest plans

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Friday 28 February 2014 11.15pm
ElephantSupporter wrote:
But frankly subways are all a bit passe and they are symptomatic of the old Elephant that represented crime, rubbish, vandalism etc.
Passe, huh? You make them sound glamorous! The sooner the subways and the drink and drug addled vermin that infest them are gone the better. I rather suspect more people are victims of crime (and addiction and disease) because of them than could ever be run over by an army of drunk drivers when they were closed.... And they will be closed. Of that I am 100% certain.
Saturday 1 March 2014 12.20am
I have to admit to finding the arguments of those battling to keep the subways utterly baffling. As many have said, the subways on the southern roundabout have been removed, and this has provided an enormous improvement in pedestrian accessibility (quicker and more direct crossings) and made the roundabout much safer for cyclists. Why on earth would this not be the case on the northern roundabout?

And don't forget that the Northern Roundabout is the most dangerous junction for cycling in London - this has to be rectified now.

I have a feeling that those who live right by the roundabout feel differently to those who live south of them, like me. For us, the circuitous routes that they impose are a huge barrier, especially so for those who cannot use steps and have to make ridiculous loops up and down. Furthermore the new design will allow passengers to cross on the level from buses north from Camberwell and Walworth Road and enter directly into the tube station avoiding today's massive detour via the subways.

There is no doubt the new layout will be a bodge; TfL's Boris-led approach of "traffic smoothing" is a slogan not a coherent policy, and it will certainly be improved once Boris is gone. But to yearn for 1960s planning solutions that clearly don't work in practice - even if you think they could with much more maintenance and other money that doesn't exist - seems an odd way to spend energy.

On the other hand, if your battle is with Boris about his policy of maintaining or increasing traffic capacity at all costs, and particularly (and understandably) where this is outside your home, then that is a different battle entirely which I believe has nothing to do with subways.
Saturday 1 March 2014 10.46am
Just to point out,the south subways were hardly ever used as far as I could make out,when ever I was under there I was always on my own,it was a bit eerie and the subway from the centre over towards Draper hse was particularly long and the only episode of subway crime (on a person)that I ever heard of was committed in that tunnel.

I'm passed caring whether they stay or go,just stop the bull****,there are enough reasons for them to go without the nonsense that they represent crime.
Unpoliced streets represent crime.
Of course though,when they're gone it will be an end to all crime in the area and nobody will need to urinate anymore.
Saturday 1 March 2014 11.27am
Personally I dont find the Southern Roundabout any nicer - for pedestrians. And that's what we're discussing here. I'm sure it's better for traffic flow, but as one who tries to walk everywhere possible, hanging around at the crossings while the trucks spew carbon particulates at me is not in any way preferable to going under ground.
Saturday 1 March 2014 11.53am
oh ffs, the redeveloped thing will bring jobs!

oops, wrong pr
Saturday 1 March 2014 12.49pm
The southern and northern junction are very different challenges for traffic, safety, pleasantness: 3 vs 5 roads converging, two tube stations adjacent vs none, 3 roads are C-zone borders vs none and the north has a much higher pedestrian foot fall because of it's proximity to stations and position enroute to central London. The southern junction had also never been revitalised since its construction in 1959 in the way the northern junction had received a significant 1990s redesign. So extrapolating too much is a bit unhelpful.

What we can learn from the southern junction is about what's there now for pedestrians. The light controlled crossings give barely a few seconds in some places, and that's just to cross half the road, versus over a minute for traffic. Impatience provokes many people to ignore the lights and risk being run over.

The facts about crime in the existing subways are that there's less of it there than at surface - I'm quoting two community wardens who shared this with me in November 2013 while on patrol. Yes there's a perception of crime, but that's something improvements could change, that's very simple.

Let's be clear, the Save Our Subways campaign is not about preservation, nor is it in awe of mid century planning, it's about making improvements. At a minimum better maintenance but ideally much further than that - see the references from Seoul or Toronto at We also want improvements at the surface level for other users. The current configuration which dates from the 1950s (note it's not the 1960s as even Peter John regularly states, that decade is used like a swear word by the blinkered in transport design these days, as if it's obviously a worthless legacy). There were also changes in the mid 1990s (the subway murals, jazzy tiling and woefully inadequate signage as well as three new surface level crossings that are in place). The southern junction never got a 1990s update. And for all those mid 20th century planning bashers, consider that the Elephant has had pedestrian subways for over 100 years - perhaps you respect Edwardian planners a bit more?

What we need now is a significant update for the subways as well as improvements at surface level for cyclists (e.g. what TfL propose for St George's Road, Newington Causeway and to some extent London Road). All these new cycle lanes could be created without demolishing the subways and the collision data TfL have recently sent me on request shows that hot spots are the mouths of the radial roads not the roundabout itself.

Subway demolition is on the agenda because Cllr Peter John and Cllr Fiona Colley briefed TfL to get rid of them without anything other than user hearsay to base their opinion on. Boris has happily gone along with it because it's a very cheap option and is conveys just enough change to encourage developers to invests a bit more. The "Strategic Stakeholder Group" who helped shape the brief for this junction was a closed door gathering of developers, chaired by a Lend Lease consultant and occasionally including a rep from one of the two local universities. Residents and the representatives (e.g. local councillors) were intentionally excluded despite complaints. This lot are inevitably mostly concerned with conveying a sense of newness and change to their customers rather than practical user friendliness or long term quality.

We need the current plan to be taken off the table, a thorough public debate to help shape the brief and more choice to be presented for consultation.
Saturday 1 March 2014 6.27pm
Peter John very nicely agreed to meet me, but since I told him WHAT I wanted to meet him about he's gone quiet....Perretonian I'm of your view entirely and I cant understand how no one other than you and me seems to understand that the underpasses are not some antiquated (and therefore BAD)remnant of bygone days but a really convenient and safe way of crossing over a very large area with a great many roads which, as you say, is often hazardous when people get impatient and try to dash over the crossings. Heaven knows I'm not one to cling to the past for the sake of it...I genuinely think we are shooting ourselves in the foot if we abolish the subways.
Saturday 1 March 2014 9.47pm
The good news Jackie is that whilst on this forum there are several subway bulldozers amongst us elsewhere others aren't quite so dozy and I've been cc-ed on many passionate well presented cases to our leader why the subways should not be demolished. I hope hopefully listening very carefully and will put a hold on his scramble to have a bodge in place for this critical junction before the election. From what he's written on the subject so far he really was deluded into thinking the subways were universally loathed and worthless and isn't a man that's interested in the detail and rigour of long term urban regeneration, as his deal with Lend Lease turned out to reveal!

I do hope you get to meet him. For other suggestions of how to make some progress here contact me at [email protected]
Saturday 1 March 2014 10.23pm
Richard, calling people who don't agree with you "dozy" is childish. And there are many of them. Luckily you cannot "bulldoze" a subway, you simply fill it in. And then cross on the surface, as you would do anywhere else.
Sunday 2 March 2014 9.34am
So the discussion has been reduced to methods of destruction and objections to the use of the word dozy. Well I can sink to that level too: I have photos of a bulldozer filling in the subways on the southern junction - or that's what I call a JCB skid steer loader type of machinery, so apologies if my use of the more generic term of bulldozer was inappropriate in this context. How dozy of me.

Why do you say it's lucky we cannot bulldoze subways, is this a reason to be hopeful that in a more enlightened society we might open them up again to discover their potential like New York's High Line or their forthcoming Low Line? These projects and our subways were something I discussed recently on BBC World:
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