It was revealed at the Sutton Cycle Forum on Tuesday (9 January 2018) that the design of the proposed two-way cycle-path and footway on Beddington Lane is to go ahead as outlined in the original designs. This announcement is a disappointment, as it suggests that ease and priority for cycling is not to be fully facilitated at all intersections. This disclosure tempered the “good news” element in so far as Sutton Council had secured £1.86 million funding from TfL for the project which, together with the £1.7 million of council funding, takes the total budget to £3.56 million.
In our response to the Beddington North TfL Major Scheme consultation in July 2017, we stated that we could not support the proposal for the the major intersection at Marlowe Way, by Asda, as it currently stands. This was primarily because the geometry of the path, as outlined in the design plans, would require cyclists to make a sharp ninety-degree manoeuvre to access the Marlowe Way crossing and another such manoeuvre to egress from the crossing. We asked, instead, for the cycle path to be deflected away from Beddington Lane to align more directly with the Marlowe Way crossing.
Cycle Forum attendees were told that the main reason that our suggested improvements for the Marlow Way intersection were not to be incorporated was because a petrol garage (with storage containers underneath), situated on the south side of Marlowe Way, was in the way. (But is the garage completely in the way, and how much space do you actually need? Google Maps). It was noted that a number of staff car parking spaces (on the north side of Marlowe Way) were be taken in order to accommodate the path. We asked why alterations could not be made around the Asda garage, and were told there was only a a finite amount of funding available (which is £3.56m to be precise). The whole project had not been easy, requiring Compulsory Purchase Orders on twenty sites to maintain the five-metre width along almost all of the path’s 1.7 km length. There are to be ‘Copenhagen’ style crossings (Enjoy Waltham Forest offers a description) at other intersections (very welcome), although these were currently subject to safety audits and so the design had yet to be finalised (need to be clearly delineated by the looks of things). It was good to hear that the possibility for improvements to be made at Marlowe Way in the future, and retrospectively worked on, is not ruled out.
The fact remains that for now (with construction due to commence in less than two weeks time on 22 January) the whole length of the Beddington Lane cycle path will only be as good as the sum of its parts. It was known, as soon as the plans were released, that the opportunity was not being taken on Beddington Lane to deliver an exemplary scheme. Although the new path will be a substantial improvement over the current situation (in other words, a situation where there is no path in places and cyclists have to share the relatively narrow carriageway with high volumes of traffic, much of it HGVs), an exemplary scheme would have delivered cycling infrastructure consisting of two, with-flow cycle paths, one on each side of the carriageway (separate from the footways) along with suitably designed intersections at Marlowe Way and elsewhere. The space could have been found, and given the excuse now that the Asda garage is in the way, all the more reason that a much better design was not originally proposed. It appears that all measures have been taken to ensure that there is no conflict for drivers of motor vehicles, but when it comes to those cycling an element of marginalisation persists.
Let’s hope that we don’t just end up with what is essentially a glorified pavement.
Talking of glorified pavements, over on the Merton section of Beddington Lane, to the north of the Beddington Lane tram stop, it looks as though this is exactly the sort of thing that is being delivered. Read more about this from @lastnotleast in Merton Council surprises south Londoners on sort-of-secret shared-use strolling and cycling scheme to Sutton. Work started on 8 January 2018.
Other news (although as scheme going ahead as planned much of this was not news) on the Beddington Lane scheme, outlined at the January Sutton Cycle Forum, which is mostly good, included:
- Beddington North TfL major Scheme News Update leaflets will be delivered to 4,000 homes tomorrow (10 January). Leaflet available here as pdf.
- A dedicated website for the Beddington North TfL Major Scheme can be viewed at sutton.gov.uk/beddingtonmajorscheme, and this includes a link to consultation feedback with a link to review the survey feedback (appears to have been updated 13 December 2017,although we were not informed of this at the time) and more detailed comments (pdf) in “You said, we did”.
- HGVs to be banned from Beddington Village (or more correctly, the proposals include HGV management on Hilliers Lane and Beddington Lane whereby HGVs will be re-routed via Purley Way other than for deliveries and businesses that rely on access from Beddington Lane).
- A 20mph maximum speed limit has already been introduced through Beddington Village. Physical narrowing to be provided through the introduction of a central meridian (flush with carriageway), with buffed kerbs. All intended to keep speeds low.
- The new link from Beddington Village, west towards, Beddington Park is going ahead.
- The barriers on the path on the east side of Beddington Lane (almost opposite Derry Road and leading to Richmond Road) are to be removed.
- Parallel cycle and zebra crossings at Derry Road and Guy Road/Wandle Bank (to be introduced in place of the existing signal controlled crossings (Sutton Vision have been consulted), and new zebra crossing in the centre of the village.
- All a more “villagey” feel.
Let’s see where this all pans out. Our response to the consultation was submitted, but not acknowledged, and now we learn that our ideas for improvements have pretty much come to nothing.
So, can we consider this major scheme (that is not quite major enough) as a staging post to better things? It’s certainly a step in the right direction (if not a big enough step). Perhaps it could be described as a nice enough cake, but without the icing.
One thing is for certain, we will continue to set the bar high in the quest to get Sutton cycling!
v1: 11.01.2018 (images added 12.01.2018)