Camberwell Green response 2017
Response to Transport for London's plans for the Camberwell Green junction
on behalf of Southwark Green Party
Some of the elements are genuinely useful. We support the new pedestrian crossing between Camberwell Passage and the Green, and the repositioning of the St Giles bus stop, to improve sight-lines.
But the plans offer far too little to improve safety. We cannot see that it is worthwhile doing this 'interim' work at great cost when it offers so little. We urge TfL to withdraw the plans and replace them with plans that consider Camberwell as a town centre with shops and community services, and consider how people actually need to move around it on foot or on bike. This is an essential step in tackling the current dangers of the junction as well as the wider public health emergency of air pollution.
Camberwell Green is a dangerous place to walk or cycle. In January 2014, Julianah Omolara Awokoya was hit by a car as she crossed the road by Macdonalds. She died of her injuries. In May 2015, Esther Hartsilver was killed by an HGV as it turned left into Orpheus Street. There have been many other collisions, reported and unreported, and near misses are a daily occurence around this junction. Moreover, the actual danger of the junction is mirrrored by how it feels: it feels intimidating and difficult to move around here, whether on foot or on bike.
If TfL has ambitions to encourage more people to walk, cycle and use public transport, then those modes of travel need to be put first in design. And Camberwell Green is a crucial location for that change in travel: Southwark Green Party's monitoring of nitrogen dioxide at the junction in 2017 showed levels more than twice the EU legal limit.
We support the increase in time allowed for crossing but are very disappointed that the staggered crossings are retained. In order to change buses at Camberwell, you may have to wait at four separate crossings to get from one side of the junction to the other. These staggered crossings are frustrating and particularly problematic for people with disabilities. The central pedestrian islands often become crowded and are difficult to manoeuvre when using a wheelchair or a buggy. People waiting for a long time at this complicated junction are more tempted to cross against the lights, or to cross in the middle of the road.
Why not create diagonal pedestrian crossings that go straight over the centre of the junction, as at Oxford Circus? At the very least, it should be made possible to cross Camberwell Church Street and Camberwell New Road in one go. This is a town centre and bus interchange - it should be easy to move between shops and bus stops.
This is a crucial junction for anyone cycling into central London over Vauxhall Bridge. The infrastructure from Oval is excellent, safe and inviting. Getting to it, however, from the directions of Peckham, New Cross or Dulwich, is unpredictable and unsafe. Camberwell Green is one of the most worrying points.
There’s very little to make it safer to cycle through the junction. Advanced stop lines and advanced release are only helpful if you arrive at the junction at exactly the right moment. They provide an incentive for filtering up the inside of queuing motor traffic, potentially into a dangerous position when it starts moving – and turning left. The cycle lane on Camberwell Church Street, in particular, creates exactly this kind of hazard.
At the inquest into Esther Hartsilver's death, the vehicle’s professional driver stated that junctions forcing high volumes of traffic to turn across cyclists are “just an accident waiting to happen”. The designs for Camberwell Green do not remove the danger of vehicles turning left across people on foot or on bikes, and actually encourage cyclists to put themselves in this dangerous position.
Looking at the approach to the junction down Denmark Hill and towards the Walworth Road, there are four lanes for traffic. Will you consider a protected cycle lane here?
Are TfL proposing to maintain Camberwell Green as a multi-lane urban motorway, or will you genuinely commit to encouraging walking and cycling here? We urge you to withdraw the plans and bring forward permanent proposals that put people and their health first.
Co-chair, Southwark Green Party