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Florence Road, Belvedere

Harrow Manorway

Until 2001 Florence Road was an ordinary two directional residential road leading to Abbey Wood railway station. When Bexley council disallowed the practice of dropping off passengers on Harrow Manorway and put in a couple of parking bays outside the station this road was made one way. Overall it was probably an improved arrangement, especially after the 224 bus route was introduced and terminated at the station. However in May 2009, with no warning or consultation, the exit to Abbey Road was reduced in width. I met the councillor for that area in the street on 4th June 2009 and asked him what benefit there was. He was momentarily lost for words until coming out with “It’s absolutely bonkers”. He is vice-chairman of Bexley’s Transport Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee so it’s nice to have an honest and informed opinion of what Bexley does to its roads and thanks John, for effectively naming this website!

Despite having the views of the committee vice-chairman, I thought I should try to get the official view and wrote to Andrew Bashford, Team Leader (Traffic Projects) but not until 9th July. (I was still awaiting a reply to my enquiry of the previous May about Abbey Road and didn’t want to complicate matters too much). Mr. Bashford eventually responded on 8th September after pressure was put on him by a helpful lady in the council’s contact centre. He said “The purpose of the change at Florence Road is to provide a safer facility for cyclists and pedestrians to cross this junction mouth. Prior to the change, motorists could line up at the give way markings in two lanes, with drivers of both lanes pushing out to see passed (sic) each other, to enter Abbey Road. By reducing the approach to one lane, pedestrians have a shorter distance to cross and only one lane of traffic, and cyclists are not pushed into the vehicle running lanes by the front ends of cars being pushed out into Abbey Road.”

There is of course a little truth in his comment. Drivers do tend to edge over the line, mainly to the centre line blocking all eastbound traffic! The new arrangement does nothing to address that. Now drivers intending to turn left are held up behind those wanting to turn right, helping to pollute the atmosphere as they wait. On the plus side residents of Florence road have gained an extra parking bay. However the real problem exposing Mr. Bashford’s continued inability to do his job properly is that he never thought to extend the green painted cycle lane across the junction. (See photograph). Instead of being all too ready to blame motorists he could have painted the track green eight years ago. Now we have motorists inconvenienced and nothing to show in exchange.

I first drew attention to the fact that two white lines at this junction might confuse motorists into pulling out too far and endangering cyclists on 6th July 2004. Nothing was done. Now Bexley council acknowledges it was a problem.

If Mr. Bashford’s perverse logic is extended across the borough, all road junctions which are more than one vehicle wide will be reduced in width. Oh, dear, it has already started. Penhill Road Sidcup comes immediately to mind.

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