I dont drive across Bexley very often but even so I do
notice the way roads are constantly being changed and rarely for the better.
Fewer than ten years ago a section of Picardy Street in Belvedere, because of parking
bays, a cycle track and the white centre line, was effectively reduced
to a metre wide on a route with 20 buses scheduled hourly. It
existed for about three years until sense triumphed. A section of Abbey Road was
not so favoured. A cycle track in the middle of the road survived for six
years before a road narrowing scheme in 2007 saw its demise, so it was with some
surprise that at the same time as these idiocies were perpetrated the exit from Penhill Road
to the roundabout at the Danson Underpass was divided into two lanes
so that two cars could exit simultaneously to the large roundabout. The traffic
congestion reduced overnight.
Naturally the council could not allow this happy state of affairs to exist for
long and in October 2007 the central reservation was widened and the road
markings changed so that it was no longer practical for more than one vehicle at
a time to await an opportunity to exit. A friend who has the misfortune to have
to negotiate that roundabout twice daily told me about the ensuing chaos and
I took a look for myself. On 13th November I emailed an enquiry to Bexleys contact centre.
I would be obliged if you would tell me what
your motivation is and the reason for wanting traffic to unnecessarily
queue in Penhill Road.
The very next day Aurang Zeb (Traffic & Road Safety
Manager) replied saying As part of a School Travel Plan Scheme we have
recently replaced the refuge islands in Penhill Road and installed a staggered
crossing. This scheme was introduced to help pedestrians, particularly school
children cross the road. The junction is extremely busy and I am aware about the
schemes affect on its capacity. However, it was important to reduce the
difficulties and danger faced by pedestrians in crossing this heavily trafficked
I responded with I can imagine it might be a difficult road for a pedestrian to
cross but in my experience it may be an unnerving experience rather than
dangerous. The traffic is pretty well always stopped in a short queue and
when there is no queue there are almost by definition, gaps in the flow. To make a
pedestrians life easier you should have put in a proper crossing thereby giving
them a safer environment without restricting the junction. From a pedestrians viewpoint
you are not helpful enough and from a motorists will seem malicious.
Mr. Zeb said We did consider all other forms of crossings i.e. zebra/pelican but both had to
be a) located away from the junction (which means not on the pedestrian desire
line) and b) caused more delay to traffic as they give priority to pedestrians.
The island was a compromise solution. Pedestrians exercise their judgement in
search for a safer gap and cross the road without demanding anyone to stop on
There are numerous pedestrian crossings at junctions around Bexley as anyone with eyes can see
so that excuse seemed more than a little lame and the bit about pedestrian
crossings causing more delay is obvious nonsense. It might stop the traffic
when school children are crossing around 9am and 3.30. whereas the so called compromise solution
causes delay, noise and air pollution for most of the day every day. I
formed the impression that pursuing things further would be a waste of time if
all I was going to get in return was total nonsense and sometimes there are
better things to do in life. But thanks to Mr. Zebs antics hundreds of
motorists have had five minutes added to their journey times ever since. At
least Mr. Zeb answered quickly and showed no sign of the arrogance and tendency
to break the law when it suits as I have too often seen elsewhere.