Southwark Council is consulting on the status of Camberwell Grove. The road goes over the railway via a bridge, just south of the junction with McNeil Road. This bridge has been closed to all motor traffic since October 2016, due to structural failure.
The council website says: 'Repairs to the bridge will soon be completed by Network Rail, which will allow it to be reopened for small motor vehicles (under 3 tonne) with traffic lights allowing alternate one-way flows to cater for both north and south-bound traffic'. The council wants to hear your views before taking a final decision on reopening the bridge. The consultation page is here (closing Monday 30 October).
We encourage Southwark residents to respond. Read on for our comments.
Children get a lift from cycle taxi Pedal Me at a street party on Camberwell Grove in August 2017.
Transport for London has published plans for changes to the junction at Camberwell Green. Full details and drawings can be found here.
Some of the proposals are genuinely useful. Much needed changes include: a new pedestrian crossing between Camberwell Passage and the Green, and the repositioning of the St Giles bus stop, setting it a few metres back from Vicarage Grove, to improve sight-lines.
But the plans offer far too little to improve safety.
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.
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.
Waiting to cross
At the moment, if you need 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? (There are examples of this at Oxford Circus and at the junction of Townley Road and East Dulwich Road.) This is a town centre and bus interchange - it should be easy to move between shops and bus stops.
At greater risk from turning drivers
What's more, there’s very little to make it safer to cycle through the junction. As Southwark Cyclists point out: 'Tfl’s proposal for improving cyclist safety consists of:
- Increasing the size of the advanced stop box
- Early release for cyclists
- Removing some green paint
- A short stretch of mandatory cycle lane that leads straight into the path of vehicles turning left
- … that’s it.'
Advanced stop lines might look like space reserved for cyclists but they 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.
There are four lanes for traffic heading north towards the Walworth Road - isn't there room for a protected cycle lane?
Altogether, the design of the junction emphasises that motor traffic comes first for Transport for London.
Local campaigner Eleanor Margolies pointing out the dangers of the Camberwell Green junction to Caroline Russell.
On a visit to Camberwell, the London Assembly Member and Green Party Transport spokesperson Caroline Russell was shocked to see people trying to cross between fast-moving buses and cars on Denmark Hill at the junction with Love Walk. She said: ‘This spot is crying out for a new crossing.’
Where has the plan for a Love Walk crossing gone? It was proposed in the 2011 plans for Camberwell's regeneration, and was on the 2015 plans too.
Council and TfL must work together
After the inquest into the death of Esther Hartsilver, the coroner wrote in her 'Report to Prevent Future Deaths': 'I write this report to ask that the experts in TfL and the London Borough of Southwark come together (with the assistance of the police) to explore what can be done to reduce the risk to all vulnerable road users at this junction.'
Southwark Council and Transport for London have been blaming each other for delays in making this junction safer. It's time they worked together - producing an interim solution that actually improves safety not worsens it.
Local campaigner Eleanor Margolies is calling for real and immediate improvements to the junction so it’s easier for people to get around and no longer dangerous to cross. She says:
‘Older people, families, anyone changing buses, using local shops or on their way to King’s – we all need to be able to cross safely at Camberwell. I’ll be pushing for a new crossing of Denmark Hill at the junction with Love Walk. And I’ll ask Transport for London to consider diagonal pedestrian crossings, like the ones at Oxford Circus.’
Please respond to TfL's consultation with your thoughts - it's a simple form with one box to complete. The deadline is Sunday 3 September.
Press release here.
We are calling on the Mayor of London and Transport for London to replace buses on all routes passing through Camberwell Green with hybrid, hydrogen or electric buses by 2018. This is not just about Camberwell! Cleaning up the 15 dirty diesel bus routes will be good for the health of people all along those routes: in Elephant and Castle, Walworth, Vauxhall, Oval, Brixton, Herne Hill, Forest Hill and so on...
Southwark Green Party's recent monitoring of nitrogen dioxide pollution around Camberwell Green has shown that annual levels at the bus stops outside Butterfly Walk/McDonalds on Denmark Hill are more than twice the legal EU limit. The monitor outside McDonalds measured 84 micrograms per cubic metre, while the legal EU limit is 40.
Camberwell Green is a busy high street and major bus interchange, with 15 bus routes and hundreds of people waiting there at all hours of the day. Among those exposed to these extremely high levels of pollution are the most vulnerable members of our community: young children, older people and patients attending appointments at King’s College Hospital, including pregnant women and people with pre-existing respiratory and heart conditions.
Of the 20 nitrogen dioxide monitors installed by Southwark Green Party around the borough, only two were below the EU limit. The 11 monitors placed outside shops, cafés and schools around the Camberwell Green junction were all far above the EU limit. This new evidence suggests that shopping or changing buses at Camberwell Green is a serious and acute health hazard, with a huge cumulative impact on the health of local residents.
We welcome the Mayor’s proposal to introduce 12 Low Emission Bus Zones. One of these zones is identified as ‘Camberwell to New Cross’, but these zones will not be completed until 2020. The Mayor’s proposal also only deals with buses on one axis of this polluted junction. We want to see buses on the routes from Elephant and Castle to Brixton and Dulwich cleaned up too. This would make the highly polluted corridors of Walworth Road, Camberwell New Road, Peckham Road and Coldharbour Lane healthier places to live.
Camberwell residents cannot wait until 2020 for action. A child born at King’s College Hospital and growing up in Camberwell today is exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution, putting them at risk of asthma, allergies, cognitive and behavioural problems and stunted lung development, leading to lifelong health problems.
Please sign, and then pass it on: https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-clean-air-for-camberwell
- Walk or cycle instead of driving – pollution levels can be higher inside a car than on the street because the ventilation intake is close to the exhaust of the cars in front and fumes build up inside a closed car. And it helps cut emissions too.
- Choose a low pollution route. Back routes can have 50% less particulate pollution. Use sites like Breathe London to plan a route
- If your workplace or school is near a main road, ask the building supervisors how air pollution is minimised. If there’s air conditioning, are the filters effective ones?
- When shopping, close the door – it keeps the heat in and pollution out.
- At home, make sure gas boilers and heaters are serviced regularly. If you have fires in an open fireplace, check that you are buying ‘smokeless’ coal, not ‘traditional’ or ‘house’ coal. It’s illegal to burn house coal in London – and it’s bad for the health of people inside the room as well as outside. Check that any woodburners are approved for Smoke Control Areas. It’s also illegal to burn logs on open fires.
Below: It's illegal to burn 'traditional' House Coal - 'smoke-free' briquettes are a happier choice
Our first thoughts on the plan are below and the full text of our submitted response is here. Below is some text you can borrow and adapt, along with some examples of actions for the council to take.
Air pollution is a recognised public health emergency. Southwark Council needs to take action. Or rather, actions. There’s no one solution, but the actions taken need to be both immediate and substantial.
Southwark is consulting on its updated air quality plan. Responses need to be in by 31 January. Southwark Green Party will submit a detailed response and publish it here. But in short – we think the plan talks a lot about meetings and monitoring and not enough about ideas and action!
We encourage you to respond individually. It’s a very simple form - the one question is quite open: ‘What do you have to say about the Air Quality Strategy and Action Plan?’ So why not use this space to explain to the council how air pollution affects you and why you want the council to do more? Please copy your response to us too at email@example.com
Read on for some suggestions about what councils can do…
It should be ancient history... but it isn't yet!
In July 2012, Southwark Green Party members made a deputation to Southwark Council calling for urgent action on air pollution. Southwark News reported...
Southwark Green Party has responded to the TfL consultation on measures like the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to combat air pollution and improve health. Southwark residents are exposed to some of the highest levels of pollution in London - so this affects us all. What do we want the Mayor to do?
On Thursday 22 December, Southwark Green Party member Tom Venner-Woodcock will appear at Ealing Magistrates Court. He was part of a group of 15 people who blockaded a road near Heathrow last month. His protest highlights the serious risks that airport expansion poses to Londoners' health and the global climate.
Southwark Green Party has been lobbying Southwark Council to take action on air pollution since 2011.