Bute Road, the A232 and how to spend some money

ButeRoadTheA232AndHowToSpendSomeMoney_ButeRoad_IMG_2735_v2

You probably know the busy A232, Croydon Road, through Wallington. There is an informal crossing that local cyclists use from Bute Road into Beddington Park.

Cycling north on Bute Road, perhaps 5 metres before the A232, you see cyclists…

       cross over to the right-hand side of Bute Road before the junction, cycle some 20 metres on the wide A232 pavement, then turn left to cross the A232 in two stages, using an existing refuge.

At a recent Sutton Cycle Forum, a possible Sutton Council plan for this crossing became clear. When there is scarce public money available for cycling improvements, someone is thinking of using some of it for a scheme to allow cyclists travelling north on Bute Road to…

       cross over to the right-hand side of Bute Road before the junction, cycle some 20 metres on the wide A232 pavement, then turn left to cross the A232 in two stages, using an existing refuge.

So,  what would the effect of this use of public funds be?

  • In practice, there would be no change for cyclists who already  go this way; local residents would gain nothing.
  • Money would be spent on the official preparation of plans, the application of white paint and the installation of blue circular signs.
  • A box would be ticked in Sutton Council’s favour for providing supposedly new cycling infrastructure.
  • Another allegedly significant scheme would appear on a list to be quoted approvingly by the chair of the Environment and Neighbourhood committee, as has occurred only recently.

Shouldn’t scarce public money be put to better use, to the advantage of cyclists and other local residents?

It seems pointless quoting the lofty platitudes of Sutton’s Cycling Strategy – it appears to have been forgotten, even though their website still claims to promote it.

After discussion about this potentially poor use of public money at the Sutton Cycle Forum meeting, another in our series of group rides was arranged with Councillor Manuel Abellan to look at the Bute Road/A232 junction, specifically in the context of a cross-borough north-south route.

As on previous rides, it was inspiring to hear the Councillor’s vision of what could be achieved.

Such a route would start from Beddington Lane or Hackbridge in the north. There is a Beddington Lane proposal in the pipeline, part of the Beddington North TfL Major Scheme, that would provide an attractive cycle route to the east side of Beddington Park; and there are routes from Hackbridge to the north of the park, even if they do need significant improvement.

The north/south route would pass through Beddington Park, cross the A232 at an improved Bute Road crossing and then go down to Wallington town centre and on to Woodcote Green.

A good crossing of the A232 between Bute Road and Beddington Park would be the link to join up the various elements of the route that either exist or are in the pipeline. But it must be something better than a signposted version of a few cyclists’ improvised solution.

Our ride with Manuel and the on-site discussion made one thing clear: the layout of the roads means it is a difficult junction. However, there is plenty of space, when you look at the wide pavements and the less than logical location of parking places (which could be repositioned, not removed). It was felt that a future junction design, with traffic reduction on Bute Road, would benefit from outside input. This could help bring imaginative ideas from practitioners who have experience of finding creative solutions.

The aim would be to improve local streets for residents and especially for children and staff at Holy Trinity Church of England Junior School in Bute Road (the school’s website says: ‘Bute Road is too busy’ at key moments in the school day), as well as creating dedicated pedestrian and cycle access between Bute Road and Beddington Park.

In this regard, the emerging Healthy Streets approach provides the opportunity for the council to engage with neighbourhood residents, schools and businesses, to make the case and go on to secure funding that will deliver worthwhile schemes that benefit everyone, whether they cycle or not.

It is also worth remembering that, at some stage, there is to be an east-west Quietway which could potentially use tracks along the A232 (since the current route through Beddington Park has limitations). This crossing could be part of that route too.

With such a crossing in place, the park itself – with a circular cycling route within its boundary – is a destination for anyone living in the large residential area that is Wallington and Hackbridge. There are three schools in the vicinity of Bute Road, a number of whose students appear to cycle regularly.

In a southerly direction from the A232, there is an obvious route down Bute, Belmont, Bridge and Clarendon Roads – already partly signposted – to the shops at Wallington, where the Ross Parade/ Bridge Road junction is already included in a planned improvement scheme.

In Wallington town centre, there has often been discussion of remodelling the junction of Stafford Road and Woodcote Rd plus the Sainsbury’s car park entrance. If the traffic lights were moved a few metres to cover the entrance to Onslow Gardens, and if suitable infrastructure was provided, a safe crossing of Stafford Road could extend this cycle route further to the south into the large residential areas towards Woodcote Green.

To sum up, the provision of an attractive, well-designed crossing on the A232 between Bute Road and Beddington Park has great potential. It would be a key element in creating a cycle route that is off-road or on fairly quiet roads, but runs parallel to the busy Woodcote Road and Manor Road, Wallington and London Road through to Hackbridge or to Beddington North. It would be away from the lorries, the buses, the manoeuvring cars and the crowded intersections. It would run from almost the southern boundary of the borough, through sizeable residential areas, close to the shops, through the park, almost as far as the northern boundary of the borough and the Beddington Lane Tramlink stop.

We can be confident that the route would open cycling up to a wider range of groups in society and play a part in encouraging healthy activity and reducing the use of vehicles that pollute the air we breathe.

At the Bute Road/A232 junction, public money could be spent on white lines and blue signs, to give cyclists little more than is already there and to give residents nothing. Or, with some imagination, it could be used to push Sutton in the direction of a real cycle network in the east of the borough, as well as improving the quality of life for residents.

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Posted in Advocacy, Cycle tour, Safe Routes to Schools
One comment on “Bute Road, the A232 and how to spend some money
  1. […] It was good to see the north/south cycle route on the agenda (relating directly to LIP schemes for 2017/18 including Bridge Road (by Ross Parade)), as this was a current hot topic given the recent site visit with Cllr. Abellan to Bute Road. […]

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