Bexley council told me during 2009 that they decided to consult only the residents who have property facing
Abbey Road and later that as a matter of policy they made no attempt to notify those most affected, the pedestrians
now endangered by cyclists. Having made that undemocratic decision, in typical Bexley council
fashion they proceeded to make a complete mess of the implementation. They consulted
residents of Elstree Gardens and Bright Close both of which only back on to
Abbey Road. They consulted in Tunstock Way and Blakemore Way but not Carrill Way
which is directly comparable, all three being adjacent turnings off Abbey Road.
They consulted in Halifield Drive but missed Coptefield Drive which as any map will
show are equals in their relationship with Abbey Road, in fact as
far as pedestrians are concerned, Halifield and Coptefield is a continuous road,
being restricted only to vehicles to prevent it becoming a loop with Abbey Road.
From mismanagement they went on to little fibs. The consultation document referred to accidents whereas Mr. Bashford Team Leader (Traffic Projects) has said that accidents did not figure in the plan, it is intended to benefit cyclists and should reduce traffic speed. It goes on to say that a speed survey shows the average speed is higher than the speed limit on the road. and later that that higher speed is 30 to 35 m.p.h. The actual figure taken from the detector at Lesnes Abbey was 28·9 m.p.h. but the truth would not have helped to obtain the wanted answer from the consultation.
There is a reference to the problem of cyclists colliding with alighting bus passengers and says at such points pedestrians will have priority over cyclists, as though a white line offers sufficient protection and cyclists will obey it. It is stated as fact that the new arrangements will remove the possibility of car doors being opened as cyclists (sic) pass. What! Cars never disgorge their passengers directly to a pavement? The majority of parking movements are by visitors to the childrens playground, the abbey ruins, the woodland, or simply bringing home the shopping. The section used by commuters is largely irrelevant. They may be single-occupancy with doors being opened to the road (for which there is now precious little room) rather than the cycle track, but there is space for a maximum of 24 commuter cars and they exit their doors only once per day, weekdays only. The consultation document is misleading if not an actual lie.
But that is not all. The Transport Research Laboratorys report says that using parked cars as part of a speed reduction scheme results in damage to those cars. Bexley council knew that but didnt tell the residents who have to park on the road. The consultation document says there will be no overall loss of parking space. It is true that that is what the plan shows, but in practice residents opposite Lesnes Abbey have been unable to use their parking spaces since the road was narrowed because of the damage to their vehicles.
With the consultation carefully biased in the right direction the result was not unexpected. 55% for, 45% against. There were a number of written objections all of which were casually dismissed by councillor Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Transport on 15th February 2008. I doubt very much that this Conservative councillor has any professional qualifications to allow proper analysis of the situation and probably relied on his officers despite their long track record of incompetence. Probably he didnt know that the consultation was flawed in terms of both its distribution and its content.
The full list of suggestions and comments from residents (Mr. Bashford told me some had been implemented) and the responses were
• To relocate bus stops to allow safer overtaking. Not implemented with a reference to the need to discourage overtaking.
• Putting the cycle lane on the pavement will endanger pedestrians. Answer. The pedestrians and cyclists will be segregated.
• Relocating cycle lanes makes it easier to get out of the car once parked. The submitter would evidently prefer a careless driver to step into the path of a bus rather than a cyclist, but this comment was gleefully accepted ignoring the fact that any improvement can only apply to the driver and not other visitors to the park etc.
• Request for a speed hump at Elstree Gardens. Not implemented. The proposals may provide some improvement at this junction.
• I walk a lot and rarely see a cyclist. Why spend the money on a minority? The thrust of the work is to encourage cycling.
• Speed is a problem, put up a camera. The scheme should reduce traffic speeds.
• Cyclists may be hit by car occupants opening doors. This already applies.
As you can see, none of the suggestions were implemented, none were even taken seriously and contrary to the promises made to residents their parking space was reduced.