Our response to the consultation on the new low emission zone

Soon after his election the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called for new proposals to urgently help tackle London’s lethal air pollution. The Mayor has already introduced the T-Charge in central London, bought forward the start date of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for central London to 8 April 2019 and announced a series of measures to clean up London’s bus fleet.

TfL are now consulting on detailed proposals for two further initiatives to improve London’s air. These involve:

  • Tightening the standards of the existing London-wide Low Emission Zone from 2020, which affects heavy vehicles – buses, coaches and HGVs and other heavy specialist vehicles
  • Expanding the ULEZ for light vehicles (cars, vans and motorcycles) from central London to inner London up to, but not including the North and South Circular roads in 2021 so that all vehicles in this area are subject to emissions standards

The full proposals can be found here:  https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/environment/air-quality-consultation-phase-3b/#our proposals 

In Thurlow Park, they involve a new low emissions zone extending up to but not including the South Circular.

As your local Labour councillors, we have responded to the consultation calling on the zone to be wider, covering all of London rather than stopping at the South Circular.

Air quality is a very important
issue for us and our residents. Thurlow Park ward straddles the South Circular
and has a number of other strategically important roads that experience heave
traffic, including Norwood Road and Lancaster Avenue. 

These roads, and the
streets leading off them, experience high volumes of cars, buses, lorries and
vans. As a consequence, the air that residents living, working, walking and
cycling in our ward, and especially on these roads, is damaging their lungs.

We are therefore
very supportive of actions which TfL and the Mayor can take to tackle air
pollution and welcome a large Ultra Low Emissions Zone. We agree with proposals
that there should be tougher emissions standards, particularly given this will especially
impact the heavy vehicles that we experience disproportionately.

We also support
the expansion of the existing Low Emission Zone. However, we are very
disappointed that it is being proposed to go only as far as the south circular.
As shown by this map displaying data from the London Air website compiled by
Kings College London, the South Circular is the worst road in our
neighbourhood. It’s a residential road, and in just Thurlow Park goes past two
schools and very near to two more.

On any given day,
these homes and schools have around 15,000 vehicles driving east and a further
12,000 vehicles travelling west past their front doors, according to data
collected by TfL which we have published here: https://thurlowparklabour.org/post/166566971597/progress-made-in-our-campaign-for-a-safer-south

Other pollution
hotspots would be missed off the new zone too – in our ward, Norwood Road sees
higher traffic and pollution, as do Robson Road, Rosendale Road, Lancaster
Avenue and Croxted Road, for example, thanks to buses, delivery vehicles and
other traffic.

The current
proposals, up to and not including the South Circular, fail to take action on
the road in the greatest need of action and does nothing to tackle the
pollution hotspots south of this boundary. They create a situation which sees
only half of our residents breathing cleaner air, while some of the worst
affected areas see no change in regulation. We are also concerned that the new
zone will push the most pollution traffic south as drivers of vehicles affected
look for alternative routes that avoid the charge. We don’t want to see the
southern half of the ward become a rat run for London’s most polluting traffic.

By extending the
zone to cover the whole city, this scenario can be avoided. We would
therefore like to see the new zone expanded to cover the whole of London,
including the South Circular.

Progress made in our campaign for a safer South Circular

Following the tragic death of Dr. Jasjot Singhota at
the zebra crossing on Thurlow Park Road, by Birkbeck Hill, in February, we have
been working to tackle speeding and improve safety on the South Circular.

In March, we organised a walkabout with TfL
officers, local residents, friends of Jas, the local Labour London Assembly
Member Flo Eshalomi, and the local Labour MP Helen Hayes. We discussed a number
of issues with the speed of traffic, the visibility of crossings and the lack
of enforcement when drivers are disregarding road safety.

We have been working with TfL to follow up on these
actions behind the scenes, and while the police inquiry into the tragic
accident is still ongoing, we are able to provide an update on this work from
TfL officers.

We asked TfL to commission a speed survey at the
crossing to give us the evidence we need to push for improvements. This took
place between 18 April and 24 April and the results are here:

Clearly, far too many drivers are exceeding the speed limit – and we are committed to continuing to work with residents to campaign for measures to tackle this. 

We also asked for a collision study, so that we
could gain a better understanding of the dangers of this crossing.

TfL officers say: 

“We have completed a collision study, which revealed at this location
there were five collisions in the 36 months up to 31st October 2016 (which is
the latest Police recorded data available, so it does not include the collision
involving Dr Singhota). Two collisions occurred on the zebra crossing involving
pedestrian’s being struck by a vehicle, whilst crossing the road. One of these
collisions resulted in a serious injury, with the other resulting in slight
injury. Three of the collisions involved vehicle shunt incidents on the
approach to the zebra crossing. Two of these three collisions involved vehicles
travelling westbound, with the other collision involving vehicles travelling
eastbound. All three shunt incidents were attributed to inappropriate speeds
and the driver failing to look properly. Two of these collisions involved cars
only, with the other involving a car and a motorcycle.”

While the ongoing police inquiry has advised that
the highway layout was not being seen as a contributory factor to the fatal
accident in February, TfL have agreed to review the layout to begin to address
our concerns. These are all things which they are able to include in the
ongoing maintenance programme so the required works can be delivered fairly
promptly.

In summary, these works include:

  • The belisha beacon (the pole with an orange ball on top by the zebra crossings) post on the north-eastern side of A205 Thurlow Park Road is solid black, and will be made black and white striped to be consistent with other crossings of this type. This should make is more visible for oncoming traffic.
  • The belisha beacons on either side of Thurlow Park Road will be re-orientated to improve their visibility.
  • Two replacement keep left bollards will be installed on the pedestrian refuge area (island) in the middle of the road.

In addition, TfL have agreed to get in touch with
the police to set up some community-led speed checks under the Community
Roadwatch scheme, which will complement the surveys that TfL have undertaken.
This scheme gives residents the opportunity to work with local police teams,
and use speed detection equipment to deter speeding on their roads. 

Dates are
yet to be finalised for this event – if you would like to be part of this
please sign up here.

TfL are also considering other interventions that
could be made in the longer term and progressed as part of their programme with
the aim of reducing speeds and improving safety along this section of Thurlow
Park Road. They say, “We intend to work with all stakeholders
to ensure that all our roads are safe for all road users.”

Earlier this year, one of our local residents, Jaz, was tragically killed crossing Thurlow Park Road on the zebra crossing at the bottom of Birkbeck Hill. This is not the first accident on the South Circular, and we want to work with Transport for London and local residents to make it the last.

Together with local residents, we want to find a way to improve safety at this dangerous crossing and so arranged a walkabout in March with Jaz’s friends and neighbours, local residents and parents, TfL officers, our local Assembly Member Flo Eshalomi and MP Helen Hayes. 

The walkabout was attended by around 25 people and was followed by a meeting to discuss potential solutions.

During the walkabout a number of points were highlighted; the possible need for a countdown timer on the crossing, the general speed of drivers rushing to ‘get away’ from the gyratory junction, the fact that the two lanes moving away from Tulse Hill move into one lane occurs fairly quickly with little signage pre-warning drivers of that change, the shift in speed limit around the neighbouring roads between 20mph (Lambeth) and 30mph (TfL) and lack of driver awareness of the change, that the sunlight both in the morning and the afternoon can be blinding to drivers as they approach the bridge /crossing, which makes it hard for drivers to see people waiting to cross, and that cycle lane improvement might also help. 

During the meeting that followed the walkabout there was a general conversation about what TfL thought was causing the safety concerns, the data surrounding TfL’s understanding of the safety concerns, and what the local community could do to support TfL’s understanding of the safety concerns. 

Otherwise, there was also a conversation about what necessary criteria was required for TfL to make certain safety changes, while there was also a discussion about whether some test speed measures could be put in place down. 

Furthermore, the group talked about the general need for better signage and better visibility for drivers and pedestrians, the need for a wider culture shift amongst road users while parking was also raised. 

In terms of follow up we will continue to work with TfL, Flo Eshalomi AM, Helen Hayes MP, and the local community to try and make the crossing safer for everyone. 

Our South Circular safety campaign

Earlier this year, one of our local residents, Jaz, was tragically killed crossing Thurlow Park Road on the zebra crossing at the bottom of Birkbeck Hill. This is not the first accident on the South Circular, but we want to work with Transport for London and local residents to make it the last.

This crossing is particularly dangerous – vehicles speed  from the lights by the gyratory, the road narrows from two lanes to one, and the crossing is obscured by the hill and the railway bridge.

Together with local residents, we would like to find a way to improve safety at this dangerous crossing and across the South Circular, so hopefully further loss of life can be avoided.

Please join us, Jaz’s friends and neighbours, local residents and parents, TfL officers and our local Assembly Member Flo Eshalomi on 21st March for a walkabout to show the problems of the unsafe crossing and speeding on the South Circular, and then a meeting to discuss potential solutions and campaigns.

Everyone is welcome – you can let us know you’re attending here southcircularwalkabout.eventbrite.co.uk

Having been successfully elected Florence Eshalomi AM follows up Lancaster Ave resident association walkabout about the Thurlow Park rd bridge with question to Mayor. 

As local residents ill be well aware the railway bridge over the South Circular is hit by HGVs more than any other railway bridge in the UK. Every time a lorry drives into the bridge, trains to and from central London are delayed and traffic is redirected down residential streets. In the meantime, large vehicles are indiscriminately redirected down Lancaster Avenue.  It is disruptive and dangerous, and we have been working with residents, TfL, and now our new Assembly Member as we want to do something to solve the problem.

‘TfL has invested in a number of measures such as clearly signing an alternative route, installing larger bridge height restriction signs on the bridge itself.  In collaboration with Network Rail, it has painted black and yellow chevrons on the bridge to highlight the maximum height available to vehicles and added large “Low Bridge” signs to the structure. In addition, new electronic over-height warning systems were successfully commissioned on Friday 15 July 2016, which use infra-red beams and a sensor in the carriageway to detect when a tall vehicle approaches the bridge, triggering a warning message on a nearby sign to advise them to divert’.

Please find Florence Eshalomi AMs question to the Mayor of London and the response here – http://questions.london.gov.uk/QuestionSearch/searchclient/questions/question_288872

Reducing bridge strikes on Thurlow Park Road – work starts next week

The railway bridge over the South Circular is hit by HGVs more than any other railway bridge in the UK. Every time a lorry drives into the bridge, trains to and from central London are delayed and traffic is redirected down residential streets. In the meantime, large vehicles are indiscriminately redirected down Lancaster Avenue.  It is disruptive and dangerous, and we want to do something to solve the problem.

We have been working with TfL to address the issue. Officers met with residents a couple of months ago, and recently our new London Assembly Member, Flo Eshalomi, visited the ward to discuss this issue ahead of her election.
In the short term, we have pushed for better signage – which takes into account the actual height of vehicles to ensure oversized vehicles are targeted. In the long term, we want the road to be lowered so that no vehicle is at risk of hitting the bridge, and so that no lorries are diverted down Lancaster Avenue.

We are pleased that action is being taken this week. London Highways Alliance Contract (LoHAC) workers, on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), are planning to modernise the Overheight Vehicle Detection Systems on the A205 Thurlow Park Road, on both approaches to the Network Rail Bridge near Tulse Hill Gyratory. The contractors will be installing new Overheight Vehicle Detection Systems and associated loop sensors, ducting and electrical connections, in order to give overheight vehicles more advanced warning of the low bridge and to divert them via alternative routes.

Works are planned to start on Tuesday 24 May 2016 and will be phased over approximately 10 weeks, depending on weather conditions. Footway works will take place from Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 18:00, and on Saturdays between 08:00 and 14:00. Carriageway works will take place from Mondays to Fridays between 20:00 and 05:00, nights only, with noisy works completed before 23:00.

Ahead of 2016 GLA Assembly election we arranged for the Norwood Forum Chair, Noshir Patel, and Labour GLA candidate for Lambeth & Southwark, Flo Eshalomi, to conduct a walking tour of Lancaster Avenue and Thurlow Park Road with the bridge strike issue and subsequent road diversion the main topic of discussion.

As many of you may know, the bridge on Thurlow Park Road is the most hit in the country and the impact has been of growing significance to residents and business alike. The economic cost of delayed train and car journeys, the negative effect on air pollution, the impact on road safety, the actual damage to the bridge, and the cost to train operating companies.

As a reminder, we met with TfL and LARA residents last December 2015 and discussed a rage of short and long term strategies to help residents better cope with the ongoing issue. In the short term we had hoped to see better signage being installed. These would be “smart”, triggered only by oversized vehicles which should mean they are more effective. Otherwise, we had also hoped to see CCTV being installed to monitor and measure impact.

In the longer term we understood that TfL would be developing a business case for lowering the road as a way to prevent bridge strikes and to remove the need to divert any traffic down Lancaster Avenue. This will take some time because it is a complicated engineering challenge thanks to bridge foundations and the sewer. It will also have a huge impact on the road, as it would have to be closed for the works to be completed.

Florence was diligent in her questions and understood the need for something to be done as quickly as possible. She was keen to help and said that she would raise the matter, if elected, during Mayor’s question time.