Bexley Council is definitely missing a trick. I gave myself an extra hour to
get to The Oval on Sunday but I didn’t have to wait for the rail replacement bus
and the train at Plumstead left within a minute of my arrival and even after
walking over London Bridge from Cannon Street to kill time I still arrived in Kennington 50 minutes
before the scheduled meet up with some mates.
I sat under a tree watching the traffic on the adjacent yellow box junction mesmerised by the nightmare being played out before me.
Even at the discounted penalty rate - is that £65? - I would estimate that that one junction, if zealously enforced, was raking in in excess of £5,000 an hour. Taxis, cars, motorcycles and buses, they were all swallowed up in an unavoidable trap.
The yellow box was considerably more faded than captured by Google Earth, in fact I didn’t even notice the one to the ‘north’ of the picture (†), maybe that’s because the bulk of the traffic was heading ‘north to south’ and ‘east to west’ in the picture so only one of the two boxes shown was the Money Box.
What Bexley needs to do to up its income is to move its stop lines back from the junction by 40 or 50 feet.
Stop lines should come before a 20 foot space for cyclists, a further ten feet for a pedestrian crossing and another ten feet of no man’s land beyond (or before) that. Traffic held fifty feet back will probably not even notice a faded yellow box junction and probably just move off when the lights go to green. The other side of the junction is simply too far away to be sure if there is a space or not.
But that may not be quite enough to ensure a fine. What is needed is for each road exit to the junction to have two lanes but make sure the one opposite is narrowed (by a bus lane) but not so quickly as to be visible from across the junction. That way a driver may see a gap and go but the driver alongside him has the same idea. One collects a big bill.
The 30, 40 or 50 feet lead up to the junction has another great benefit. Motorists heading towards a green light at a modest speed may see it go red long after they have crossed the stop line. With any luck they will be caught in the junction and block the transverse traffic flow.
The choice then is to ignore the blasting horns and stay there, creep back into the no man’s land or cycle reservation or do the most obvious thing of trying to continue across the junction. But that moment’s hesitation will cost you dear. By then traffic coming from your left and turning left will have filled any remaining gaps and the adjacent pedestrian crossing will have gone red and kerching! It’s another £130 Penalty Notice from Lambeth’s thieving bastards.
The junction by the Oval cricket ground really is a shining example of the London road designer’s art. Andrew Bashford will be green with envy at the level of skill on display.
If everyone waited for their exit to become clear, on match days at least, no one would make any progress at all. Bexley Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer please note, your budget deficit demands action now!
Who pays the fines that the buses were regularly risking?
† A return trip confirmed that the northern yellow box has indeed been removed since the satellite image was taken.