Covid-19 legislation sees major road changes including car free junctions, new cycle lanes and traffic bans outside schools

Katherine Johnston (02 July, 2020)

More than 6,000 people have visited Southwark Council’s dedicated online map for highway improvement suggestions to help people get travelling in a safer, socially distanced way

37591Car blocks in the new junction in Dulwich Village

Roads are being redesigned across Southwark to create a safer highway system for cyclists and socially distanced walkers.

The huge undertaking sees measures come into force for at least eighteen months as part of emergency COVID-19 legislation.

New layouts already underway include cycle lane contraflows on one way streets including Peckham’s Rye Lane and Consort Road; a car free junction in Dulwich Village that has effectively created a village square, and closing parts of East Dulwich’s Melbourne Grove to traffic, and new zebra crossings.

Modal traffic filters, one way systems, and turn right bans have been put in place on numerous side streets near Kennington and along Walworth Road.

A sign in Walworth’s Amelia Street

Comber Grove, Goodrich and Rye Oak and Camelot primary schools will all see traffic banned in their vicinity part of the school streets scheme and a segregated cycling route has also been quickly assembled for Southwark Bridge Road.

It is hoped the traffic calming measures will encourage more people to walk and cycle, and make visiting particularly congested areas much easier by foot and reduce deadly air pollution levels.

As of early last week more than 6,000 people had visited Southwark Council’s dedicated online map for highway improvement suggestions to help people get travelling in a safer, socially distanced way.

There were nearly 3,777 ideas posted, nearly 2,000 comments and over 10,000 agreements registered.

Dulwich’s new traffic free square was a hit with parents and their small children, and residents worried about bad air pollution outside the school.

Resident Barry Pritchard said: “Great, long awaited solution to this difficult junction. Hopefully Southwark engineers will go on tackling difficult traffic problems throughout the borough.”

But the road layout changes have not been popular with everyone.   “Immediate effect: South Circular solid,” tweeted Tom James, with a picture of nose to tail traffic.

Meanwhile Walworth resident Anna Leask said: “Be helpful for local residents to have more notice than one day that this is being implemented.

“Signs appeared overnight, no explanation about what this means for residents – quite a few of whom have cars.

“Am broadly supportive of the aims but communication has been woeful.”

East Dulwich’s Melbourne Grove

Councillor Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for environment, transport and the climate emergency, said: “The recent announcement of TfL funding for Southwark’s highway changes in response to the COVID emergency shows that we are among the more ambitious boroughs in London in setting this agenda.

“I am glad that the mayor and his team have recognised the value of the proposals that we have put together so far in our Southwark StreetSpace programme.

“This will enable us to make necessary changes to our highways to make them safer for walking and cycling as the lockdown eases.

“With lower levels of public transport use, not making these changes would risk a sizeable increase in car travel and the negative impact this has on air quality.”

You can still make suggestions for more changes to your local roads here:

Colin best says:

I hope all these senseless road closures will reflect on the road fund license via rebates after all we pay to use these roads.
All this will do is force vehicles to compact on main roads causing traffic jams hence a massive build up in fumes on which most people walk beside.Just another hit on the car drivers by the Labour lefties ie extinction rebels otherwise known as the scruffy wannabe spoilt middle class benefits brigade.

Dr David Barlow says:

The law of unintended consequences (at least, I presume/hope the consequences are not intended) dictates that the funnelling of traffic from its usual route must impinge on the alternative route chosen.

I live in Underhill Road, Forest Hill end, and can no longer take my usual 1 mile walk in the morning because of the NEW (!) HIGH level of fumes from the constant flow of cars. There used to be a minor surge during rush hour but now Wood Vale and Underhill sees a near constant increase in cars and pollution. Much (but not all) of it seems to be coming from Langton Rise, perhaps a new rat run to avoid the S. Circular?

I cannot fnd out where exactly the closures have occurred but some must be in Lewisham as well as Southwark.

Were any to-be-affected residents (like my family) consulted about this – we certainly were not?

A retired St Thomas’ Hospital physician.

Daniel says:

These road closures amount to a restriction on movement – work places, schools, friends / family are not always within walking / cycling distance. The air pollution from miles of stationary traffic needs to be taken in to account

Nick says:

Wow Southwark council really planned the closure well did they get children to choose which roads to shut ??? I spent 30 minutes trying to find entrance to my mums house no signs to say what exit to use plus in Peckham temporary traffic light really helped the traffic ,well done Southwark Council

Abolaji Ogun says:

If I need to use a car, walking or cycling will never be an option. Road blockage on one road is high traffic on another road. Making certain prone to high carbon emissions.
Sad, they did not think this through. They just make commute harder.

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air pollutionCOVID-19