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Sunday 7 February 2016 5.38pm
James

The statistics you're referring to are the ones perpetuated, perhaps even cooked up by the highly manipulative campaign organised by Jeremy Leach and Southwark Living Streets to push an aesthetically driven agenda that despises post war infrastructure whether it works or not and is preoccupied with turning the clock back to a rose-tinted version of Victorian merry England. Sadly the 2012 SE1 Safer Roads campaign was in turn quoted by TfL's Ben Plowden when justifying the destruction of safe segregated pedestrian space.

Let me explain what I mean by "cooked up and highly manipulative", as I've done before on these pages...

My enquiries to TfL began with a hunch, that in the 8 years of living directly next to the roundabout at Perronet House the headlines about its dangers were perhaps not quite in tune with the reality, and that the justification for the subway's removal also wasn't quite fair. So I obtained collision data from TfL via a Freedom of Information request, data for the three years to May 2013. What became apparent was that the claims by campaigners such as Jeremy Leach and SLS were based on the wrong data. Instead of using collision data for the junction itself or the 5 roads that meet there, i.e. instead of using collision data for locations within the scope of the TfL works, collisions were being used from much further away. It was in effect a dodgy dossier. What was in no doubt was that the junction was dangerous for cyclists. What became apparent was that for pedestrians it wasn't. In fact I had it confirmed by a sympathetic TfL officer, that the pedestrian collision rate was no more than the average for any TfL London road. In response to suggestions the subways might be dangerous for other reasons, i.e. crime, I also did an FOI to the Met for the same 3 year period and found out, surprise surprise, that they were virtually crime free compared with the adjacent surface of the roundabout. Perceptions didn't match reality, but perceptions could have been fixed without demolition.

Subway haters would of course refer to the frequent occurrence of spotting people taking the risk of crossing The Ring road, of clambouring over guard rails and all sorts of risky behaviour instead of using the subways. But the facts showed that such behaviour wasn't leading to a worrying level of accidents. It's obvious why when you dwell on it, or as I did, stand watching for ages at who was doing this. They were mostly young, nimble, with quick reaction times. The worse spot for pedestrian collisions was New Kent Road, and again this makes sense when all the data is to hand. This subway was by far the busiest yet the important desire line from Elephant Road north wasn't provided for with a subway or surface crossing. TfL said they could put a surface crossing in here if the subway was retained but not two new surface crossings. Jeremy Leach and others weren't interested in that trade off, so absolutely nothing's been done to solve that pedestrian collision hot spot.

The old junction needed improvement, a clean up at the very least, substantial improvements for cyclist at best (if it was felt a decent cycle by-pass was insufficient). We went as far as putting a video together of an alternative proposal.

Once the many temporary construction fences are removed and the pedestrian desire lines lost in the new design are freed up again, we can expect far more pedestrian risk taking and of course far more collisions than ever before. It'll be interesting to see if those defending the investment continue to try and compare the new collision data with their wonky baseline.

So what you might find distasteful is actually an expression of exasperation and anger at the misinformation that has fooled so many, because of the very obvious mistakes being made in the design that many have been warning about before and since the construction. Even Stephen Witherford, lead architect of the new design, shared with me a long list of concerns about the safety when he came round to my flat for a coffee, looking for someone who could bang a head or two together since TfL had brushed his concerns aside. There's a scandal behind the scenes and a lot of people have been led up a very dangerous garden path.

James Johnston wrote:
I find it pretty distasteful the way people are using this tragic death to support the claim that TfL has actually made the junction more dangerous. Are their memories so short that they forget the frequency with which pedestrians were killed or seriously injured at Elephant and Castle over the past few years? How did the marvellous subways and superior traffic flows of the roundabout help those people?
This website includes statistics for the first 2 1/2 years months of this decade. There were 4 pedestrian deaths and 15 serious injuries at the junction during the period.
http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/five-killed-in-less-than-three-years-at.html

The impact of the new junction on traffic flows can be determined fairly soon after the work is completely finished. This can't be judged beforehand. That's despite Perronetonian's oft-repeated claim that the current situation won't improve because the new road layout is now in place is misleading. Drivers respond to traffic cones, temporary barriers and roadworks by slowing down; this can be enough to cause congestions by itself. A "roadworks ahead" sign can cause huge tailbacks on motorways even if there is no actual work going on.

However, whether or not the junction is safe, is going to take many months at the very least to judge. Fatalities are relatively rare events, therefore no one can judge statistically significant increases or decreases in the short term. Serious injuries over the first 12 months after completion will give a more reliable indication.
Sunday 7 February 2016 5.50pm
James Johnston wrote:
The impact of the new junction on traffic flows can be determined fairly soon after the work is completely finished. This can't be judged beforehand. That's despite Perronetonian's oft-repeated claim that the current situation won't improve because the new road layout is now in place is misleading. Drivers respond to traffic cones, temporary barriers and roadworks by slowing down; this can be enough to cause congestions by itself. A "roadworks ahead" sign can cause huge tailbacks on motorways even if there is no actual work going on.

1. The debate on this thread is barely about congestion. I agree some of the congestion is being caused by the roadworks, whether that's from lane closures or the slowing of traffic anxious by an array of bollards and high vis jacketed workmen.

2. Road speed (whether there's a 20mph limit or not) will rise from May, and this will increase not reduce the dangers. For example the eastbound portion of the Bend towards New Kent Road: this has been a lane and a half at best for weeks, it's not contributed to congestion as it's after the lights, but it's helped make the road safe. Currently traffic that's fast off the "starting blocks" on The Bend slows here to take the corner, one vehicle at a time, preparing it for the pedestrian crossing partially hidden around the corner. Soon traffic can flow fast using two lanes.

3. Most importantly, once the many construction fences are removed from all over the junction, there will be nothing but traffic to deter pedestrians from crossing on desire lines. Already pedestrian regularly take the diagonal off the centre island on The Bend by the Bakerloo Station, more like the old surface crossing, rather than take two sides of a triangle and wait for the duration of a whole phase of lights on London Road. Few pedestrians use the new indirect surface crossing at St George's Road but instead reinstate the desire line of the old subway and cross at the mouth of the road using the new island as a stepping stone, one not designed for pedestrians, but a tree. Many more of these short cuts that require a sharp eye, good timing and nimble legs, will be opened up soon and motorists will need their wits about them to not hit them as they negotiate corners, crossing lanes and contain their own frustrations of having to pass through multiple traffic lights.

I anticipate the return of many more pedestrian guardrails. Already a new set has been built at the new crossing on Newington Causeway. This wasn't the plan, but TfL conceeded a few weeks ago it needed them. I predict they'll try and contain pedestrians with the return of many more of them, and in doing so reinstate the dangers that they create to cyclists. Remember in 2011 the link road fences were removed, only to be reinstated later that year. They've come down again, but for how long?
Monday 8 February 2016 10.58pm
TfL will respond to public feelings by installing loads of fences to marshal pedestrians - they have failed by design and resort to coercion and control.
Zoe
Tuesday 9 February 2016 7.46am
I don't agree with Perrotonian's attack on Living Streets, which I think is a bit odd as they are just local people who want to make the area better but I believe he is right that the junction has been changed to make the area more attractive to developers. The piazza being developed is just bizarre and of no use to anyone, unless you want to build multi million pound housing and have pictures of people sat in a piazza.

I feel quite strongly that TfL have developed a junction without properly testing whether it will work. E&C feels unsafe as a junction and in a car it's really not clear where to go, so there is a lot of chaotic lane changing. I think it's right that the desire lines will become obvious once the construction is over and we'll see more accidents.

I'm not sure TfL will put up barriers however, their policy seems to be to remove them elsewhere. I have the impression that TfL take the view that roads will sort themselves out, as long they get rid of the most dangerous bits. There is a lot of truth to this, but I think a junction like E&C needs a bit more planning than that.
Tuesday 9 February 2016 8.11am
Zoe. I appreciate it's uncomfortable and perhaps unpleasant to bash another group of volunteers, it's so much more traditional to take a pop at the Goliaths, whether business or government, than the little people. And the issues at E&C involve plenty of Goliaths. But Living Streets are a national charity with local chapters, and as a result carry an aura of credibility and clout, backed up by one of the most persuasive voices in the area. Their 2012 campaign that exploited a kids death to push for more crossings of the kind where he died has been quoted to me ad infinitum by TfL and local politicians in my campaigning for a better E&C junction... because these decision makers foolishly trust Southwark Living Streets.

The people at SLS core are not actually as local as you might think, certainly not to E&C, but generally reside in the more affluent extremities and leafy corners of Southwark. They also take zero interest in engaging with locals to understand their own issues, unless they serve a pre-determined agenda, ideally on their doorstep. I offered to share my findings as data emerged that undermined TfL's proposed design and they ignored. I've tweeted at SouthwarkLS repeatedly over many months and never had a reply.

You only have to look at the tone with which Jeremy has tweeted about the death via his handle @SE1saferroads, and the paucity of either his or SLS's engagement in this issue since work commenced last summer to appreciate their lack of genuine interest in pedestrian welfare here. They got their subway destruction, they got their new surface crossings, and they even got their beloved york stone too (they looooove york stone) and so they've moved on. If they really cared, then they'd be taking a leading role, rather than a zero role, in the unfolding complications at The Bend since construction started, whether short term issues or the permanent errors under construction.

On the subject of pedestrian guard rails, well Zoe, TfL have already put up new guard rails on the new crossing over Newington Causeway. These were not in the design, but are a desperate reaction to the late realisation that the island was dangerous small. The fences are unfortunately not well installed and leave a tiny but desirable bit bit of island at the most convenient desire-line and most exposed line of the crossing. I have pointed this out to a Ringway Jacobs rep. I think it's reasonable to expect more to spring up too, along the new median strips for starters.
Tuesday 9 February 2016 8.23am
The shopping centre will close permanently now with job losses, who really wants to shop on an island surrounded by shark infested seas, metaphorically speaking..
Tuesday 9 February 2016 8.49am
Have they not been threatening to close the shopping centre for years ?

Shame - as really all it needs is a make over and a lick of paint
Tuesday 9 February 2016 10.24am
They've been saying that for years Chelsea , it will be protected I hope , but hey ho when Lend Lease are around anything goes....it is a shame, the vibrant elephant from my younger years disappears and at least was replaced by shops. Far better than the destruction of the bricklayers arms, which then destroyed tower bridge road.
Tuesday 9 February 2016 10.30am
Hi Jan - no doubt it will be transformed into flats that none of us normal soles can afford
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