On 10th October 2015 Councillor Manuel Abellan (Beddington South, Liberal Democrat) and myself went for a ride around Beddington and Wallington to look at cycling conditions in this part of the borough.
We looked at bits of current infrastructure to see how they could be improved, routes which would be popular with people on bikes, and some roads which are unsuitable for mass cycling (ie everyone aged 8-80)
We started at Overhill Road [Open Street Map] to see what somebody cycling from Purley to Roundshaw would experience. Currently there is an S shaped gate with a step – unfriendly towards anyone who isn’t walking, with a sizeable tree in front of it.
We cycled along the South edge of Roundshaw Downs [Open Street Map] ruminating on how nice it would be for people to be able to enjoy this space as part of cycling in the area. We noted how gravel coloured tarmac would fit well with the greenery. It would be important to consult the friends of Roundshaw Downs over these ideas. We left the Downs at Appledoorn Drive [OSM], carrying our bikes over the mound of earth that stops motor vehicles gaining entry.
We cycled down Foresters Drive [OSM] towards Stafford Road [OSM] and agreed that it needed segregated cycle tracks. We discussed whether it would be better to have a two-way track on one side or tracks on both sides of the road. The argument for putting a two way track on one side would be that between Mollison Drive [OSM] and Plough Lane [OSM] there are no houses so conflict bewteen the cycle tracks and the driveways of residents would be avoided. However between Mollison Drive and Stafford Road there are properties on both sides of the road.
At the junction of Sandy Lane South, Waterer Rise, Foresters Drive and Wordsworth Road [OSM] we paused to talk about the problems, and what solutions there might be. Over the years the junction has been looked at many times by the Council, but interventions up to now have made zero impact on reducing traffic, and the user experience of those traversing the junction as a pedestrian or on a cycle is poor. Councillor Neil Garratt (Conservative, Beddington South) has suggested closing one or more of the arms of the junction to make it simpler. This is an idea I support. It would be lovely to have a child friendly junction there.
We then moved to the Stafford Road/Sandy Lane South [OSM] junction. Stafford Road has 2,000 vehicles an hour in peak time, and cycling conditions to be compliant with the London Cycling Design Standards it either needs segregated tracks, or that number needs to be reduced to under 1000. Stafford Road is the main road from the South of the borough to Croydon so the later is very unlikely. Fortunately, there is quite a bit of space for segregation from Fiveways Corner [OSM] until Sandy Lane South. Installing segregated from here to Stanley Park Infant School [OSM] would probably require some purchase of land from in front of the shops. Interestingly there used to be a tram running from Wallington to Croydon along Stafford Road!
We then spent a good 15 minutes watching the rat running traffic under the bridge at Demesne Road [OSM]. We discussed the situation of how enthusiastic the Council really are regarding cycling. It seemed pertinent to do it here, as 700 vehicles an hour use the Demesne Road in peak times. Rat running is endemic in Sutton and stopping it should be done at the earliest opportunity. Why Sutton Lib Dems have made no attempt to close roads such as these is something I find mystifying. I’m sure the local residents would love to have the bridge closed to motor traffic and their road would become a quiet residential street. There are no excuses.
We then had a quick look at the ‘cycling infrastructure’ installed to enable cyclists to cross from Sandy Lane North [OSM] to The Chase [OSM]. Cyclists travelling west to east upon reaching Plough Lane [OSM] are supposed to hop onto the pavement (on the other side of Sandy Lane North) and use a pedestrian crossing before again crossing The Chase in order to continue cycling towards Croydon. Performing such unexpected manoeuvres is just asking for accidents.
Our penultimate stop was at the gate in the north-west corner of Beddington Park [OSM] which leads to the track between the railway line and the sewage treatment works. The gate has a hole through which bike is to be pushed before walking through the kissing gate and collecting your bike on the other side. The gate is not designed to be traversed by those who use disability tricycles, wheelchairs, or mobility scooters. Councillor Abellan commented that he wouldn’t have guessed how to use the gates, and that they were a disservice to cycling and anybody who can’t walk through a kissing gate.
Finally we went to North Street [OSM] in Carshalton. North Street crosses the LCN 75 cycle route, yet it suffers from high levels of motor traffic as a result is irresponsible to promote it as a cycle route suitable for all cyclists. What makes this issue critical is that there are no alternatives for about a kilometre either side of West Street [OSM] and North Street for those who want to cycle in a west – east direction (if you count the Wandle trail as a north-south option). There is no room for segregated cycle tracks, and so I introduced Manuel to the idea of creating a one-lane one-way traffic system going round North Street and West Street, with the other lane being transformed into a 2 way segregated cycling lane. Necessary? Most probably. Controversial? Unfortunately. Would it be good? Definitely!
We have another ride planned to look at other parts of South Wallington, Clockhouse and the part of Beddington Lane [OSM] not covered in the ride around Beddington Village. A post ride summary will be posted on the blog.
Summaries of all the rides with Councillor Manuel Abellan can be found at cycle tour.