On 5 October 2017 we received notification of proposals to introduce a 20mph zone and zebra crossing in the vicinity of St Dunstan’s C of E Primary School, Cheam.
The accompanying letter to the informal consultation noted that the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee had agreed in principle to implement a 20mph zone and zebra crossing in the vicinity of St. Dunstan’s Primary School in Anne Boleyn’s Walk, Cheam. The aim of the scheme was to improve the environment around the school for pedestrians and cyclists, and to encourage more people to use sustainable modes of transport. Transport for London was providing the funding.
Specific proposals detailed in the letter were:
- Introduce of a 20mph zone by installing zone entry / exit point signs to denote an area where vehicles speeds are to be 20mph or less and introduce the traffic order to allow it to be enforced,
- Install a zebra crossing on Anne Boleyn’s Walk to help the school community and local residents cross the road.
There was no mention in the letter of the Mayor of London’s new transport priorities, and associated policy and programmes, including the Healthy Streets Approach (as outlined in Healthy Streets for London) to encourage measures that effect significant traffic reduction. The absence of any reference to Healthy Streets is seen as a missed opportunity to increase awareness of this important programme, and engage ahead of the new policy context and Local Implementation Plans funding requirements related to the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. (For more on Local Implementation Plans see LIP guidance (TfL)).
As part of the notification, a consultation plan was also provided.
We submitted a response to Sutton Council on 31 October 2017. In summary this response essentially welcomes the proposed introduction of 20mph, but notes that the environment around the school would be significantly improved if motor traffic on Anne Boleyn’s Walk, between Kingsway Road and Ewell Road, was limited to access only.
Here is our response to the informal consultation in full:
Thank you for sharing the preliminary proposals to implement a 20mph zone and zebra crossing in the vicinity of St Dunstan’s Primary School, Anne Boleyn’s Walk, Cheam with Get Sutton Cycling (representing the London Cycling Campaign in Sutton). It is noted that the aim of the scheme is to improve the environment around the school for pedestrians and cyclists and encourage more people to use sustainable modes of transport.
Reducing speed limits to 20mph in residential areas has been proven to reduce road danger significantly for all road users, in particular cyclists and pedestrians. The proposal to introduce a 20mph speed limit in Anne Boleyn’s Walk, Kingsway Road, Jubilee Road and Queens Acre is therefore welcome. The proposed use of 20mph carriageway roundels for these roads, rather than the installation of ‘speed cushions’ that tend not to have a sinusoidal profile, is noted. It is hoped that if the 20mph speed limit is introduced, compliance will be enforced (especially in the first few weeks).
In 2014, our Space for Cycling ‘ward ask’ for the Cheam ward was for the “implementation of a 20mph speed limit throughout Cheam Village, befitting the unique character of the area” (http://action.space4cycling.org/data/ward/1291). There is some disappointment, therefore, that three years later, 20mph is only being considered for the roads immediately to the south-west of the Cheam Village. Particularly so, given that 20mph is probably rarely exceeded on these streets anyway, due to their alignment, the carriageway width, and extensive kerb-side parking in the area. There is also disappointment over the lack of support for wider 20mph implementation from the three elected councillors representing Cheam at this time, namely Cllr. Mary Burstow (Liberal Democrat), Cllr. Holly Ramsey (Conservative), and Cllr. Graham Whitham (Independent).
Calmer traffic can be achieved through 20mph speed limits, but the use of filtered permeability, which maximises route choice for cyclists and pedestrians while blocking motor traffic rat runs, is also strongly supported by the London Cycling Campaign and London Living Streets. Although traffic levels in the streets where the 20mph speed limit is proposed are not believed to be particularly high (a recent traffic count in the late afternoon period during the October half-term school holidays revealed that 85 motor vehicles passed through the Kingsway Road/Anne Boleyn’s Walk intersection over thirty minutes), observations nevertheless suggest that some people chose to avoid the signal controlled crossroads in the centre of Cheam Village and drive along Kingsway Road and Anne Boleyn’s Walk (and in front of the main entrance to St Dunstan’s School) rather than along Station Way and Ewell Road. Consequently, we believe that the environment around the school would be significantly improved if motor traffic on Anne Boleyn’s Walk, between Kingsway Road and Ewell Road, was limited to access only, with through access only retained for those on bicycles and on foot. Access to, and egress from, the Kingsway Road car-park could be provided through a widened gate on Kingsway Road. It is recognised that an additional point closure may be required on Anne Boleyn’s Walk, west of Queens Acre, to ensure that people are not tempted to use Anne Boleyn’s Walk as an alternative short-cut.
In January 2014, Sutton Living Streets responded to the proposal to construct a raised table on Anne Boleyn’s Walk (see Watch out in Cheam! There are children, opps, sorry, humps about!). The latest proposal now, to effectively upgrade the raised table through the installation of a zebra crossing, would perhaps suggest that the raised table alone has not sufficiently delivered on the aim to calm traffic. If this is the case, then our recommendation to go further than 20mph and introduce filtered permeability here would seem to have greater credence.
As was noted in 2014, there is still the issue of the existing horizontal traffic calming on the west side of Anne Boleyn’s Walk just south of the school entrance. As the build-out extends to a point about half way across the opposite side of Kingsway Road, the cycling manoeuvre for people exiting Kingsway Road to turn right on to Anne Boleyn’s Walk can be compromised.
Proposals such as the schemes outlined here present an ideal opportunity to engage with residents, inform (or remind) them of emerging policy (with a focus on a healthier, cleaner, more inclusive environment), and seek their views on ideas that could see their streets reimagined for active lifestyles. In all future informal traffic related consultations we would like to see reference made to the Healthy Streets Approach. An approach where people’s well-being is prioritised, where the emphasis is about making streets more pleasant places to spend time, and where walking, cycling and using public transport are the obvious choices for travel. As shown in our recent video about air pollution in Sutton, with 5.6% of deaths in Sutton attributed to man-made PM 2.5 pollution, this is not the time to be shy about promoting Liveable Neighbourhoods.
Thank you for the providing the opportunity to respond to these proposals.
Note: There are currently (November 2017) around five proposals to develop 20mph zones in four borough wards, as outlined in the News And Updates at the Get Sutton Cycling 2017 AGM on 28 September.
- Cheam: St Dunstan’s C of E Primary School
- Carshalton Central: Stanley Park High School
- Nonsuch: Cheam Common Junior School
- Nonsuch: Church Hill Road
- Sutton South: Grange Road and Worcester Road