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Take action now over capital’s most lethal junction, campaigners tell Wandsworth

Deniz Huseyin
05 March 2024
LCC’s worst junction cluster for road danger in London: a few side streets off a main road in Wandsworth that cross the cycle tracks on Cycle Superhighway 7. PIC: Calvin Cheung
LCC’s worst junction cluster for road danger in London: a few side streets off a main road in Wandsworth that cross the cycle tracks on Cycle Superhighway 7. PIC: Calvin Cheung
 

Wandsworth Council remains “shamefully silent” on the road danger threat to pedestrians and cyclists around the capital’s most lethal junction cluster, says the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).

Simon Munk, Head of Campaigns at London Cycling Campaign, said: “It’s surprising and useful to know that the worst junction cluster for road danger in London is not a signalised massive roundabout – but a few side streets off a main road in Wandsworth that cross the cycle tracks on Cycle Superhighway 7.”

Research carried out by LCC found there are queues of drivers visible during the rush hour at the junction cluster, trying to turn in and out of the side streets on both sides of Upper Tooting Road (A24) where Cycle Superhighway CS7 is.

“Most of these drivers are turning out of one road, doglegging across the main road and then turning into another side street,” said Munk. “The junctions are designed to be fairly wide for turning movements and the wands obviously don’t continue across the junction mouths. Over the years it is clear that there have been attempts by the council to reduce this issue – with banned turns.

“But the simple truth is until these ratruns aren’t ratruns any more, a constant stream of drivers jostling to get out and jump the queue at the main road lights will continue to pose a serious threat to both those cycling and to pedestrians too.”

Wandsworth Council introduced the Graveney Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in August 2020 as part of it response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it removed the scheme later that year citing issues with emergency access and traffic flows.

Taking out the LTN was a mistake, said Munk. “Wandsworth Council should have implemented an LTN to deal with this cluster of ratruns, which have high volumes of vehicles turning in and out of side streets. High traffic levels, combined with the high volumes of cyclists using this route, means that the junction cluster has more severe collisions than any gyratory in London,” he told TransportXtra. “This is an issue Wandsworth council remains shamefully silent on, with a relatively easy 'fix'.”

The issue in part is due to the big rise in cycling levels along this Cycle Superhighway over the years without appropriate measures to deal with rising issues, he said. A nearby DfT traffic count revealed that: From 2013 to 2021 cycle journeys rose from 947 to 2,162. Motor vehicles journeys went up from 15,006 to 17,121.

Wandsworth Council said that only Transport for London (TfL) could make changes to the network because Upper Tooting Road was part of its Road Network (TRLN).

A council spokesperson told TransportXtra: “We are aware that cyclists are concerned about this stretch of cycle superhighway and we are absolutely willing to work with and support efforts by TfL, which is the highway authority here, to see what can be done to improve safety at these junctions.

“TfL have already published informal proposals for improvements to this stretch of Cycle Superhighway and are still taking feedback, and we encourage people to complete the survey. We also understand they will soon hold a statutory consultation into proposals to improve safety along this stretch of trunk road between Balham and Colliers Wood in neighbouring Merton and we will be actively participating in that consultation, but ultimately, as they are the highway authority, it will need TfL to approve and implement any changes.”  

Munk believes the council should be doing more now. “In other boroughs it is clear that councils have pushed TfL to do more successfully,” he said. “In other words, washing their hands of road danger on the A24 is not something Wandsworth Council can reasonably do even if we’re solely talking about the A24.

“However, these are side road junctions. The actual physical space we are talking about resides not only on the A24 but the collisions are often happening at the very boundary of the A24 and TfL’s domain and borough controlled side streets.”

TfL has taken steps to improve safety on the main road, including wand protected cycle tracks and banned turns, said Munk. “So, now it’s down to Wandsworth Council, directly, to reduce the flow of motor traffic using these side roads unnecessarily. This is old fashioned ‘traffic management’ – and it clearly should be done at this location to reduce road danger.

“They could as well also choose to ‘tighten’ turning radii of their junctions and do other measures – but the main thing they clearly need to do is reduce turning movements by reducing through motor traffic.”

A TfL spokesperson told TransportXtra: “Any death or serious injury on the roads is one too many and we are determined to end the devastating consequences of road danger by working with London boroughs to make roads safer, including at junctions. 

"We have prioritised this location for future improvements and are currently analysing the latest data following the introduction of safety improvement measures such as banned turns, implemented as part of the recent Cycleway 7 upgrade.

“This data will help inform further improvements for the area, which we plan to progress designs for later in 2024. We welcome London Cycling Campaign's research and will be working closely with campaigners, councils and local communities across the capital on our investment in new infrastructure over the coming years."

LCC’s report on junction delivery and its Dangerous Junctions map are at: lcc.org.uk/junctions

Simon Munk will be speaking at Building Better: Crossings & Junctions

 

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