After many years’ campaigning and five years (!) after the scheme was approved by the Council and funded by TfL, a group of five one-way streets (two streets are adjacent so form a single site) have been opened to contra-flow cycling under an experimental traffic order which came into effect on 6 April 2018. Under this, they will be left in place for 6 months after which they will be made permanent unless irremediable problems emerge.
On Saturday 7th July we visited all four sites to see how they are working. Here’s what we found:
Candahar Road SW11 (Latchmere ward)
A short section of this road is one-way southbound for motor vehicles. Allowing northbound cyclists to use this section enables the large multi-lane junction of Falcon Road, Battersea Park Road and York Road to be avoided and enables links to the local cycle network route on the eastern part of Cabul Road.
This appeared to work well, with good sight lines and plenty of space to move into to allow oncoming vehicles to pass. There are appropriate signs at the end of the road and cycle logos on the road surface to remind motorists to expect oncoming cyclists. Some additional signs would be useful, such as an ‘except cyclists’ plate on the ‘no through road’ sign on Kerrison Road to inform people cycling that they have a new route option.
Trinity Crescent SW17 ( Nightingale ward)
This is a relatively long road which is one way for motor vehicles southbound. Allowing cyclists to travel northbound on this road allows people coming from Balham or the Tooting Common area going towards Wandsworth, Earlsfield and Putney to avoid making a right turn outside the busy and hazardous junction at Tooting Bec station.
We found that this road also appears to work well for cyclists in both directions. There are good sight lines and ample opportunities for cyclists and motor vehicles to pass. We were very pleased to see that the entrance to Flowermead, which previously had been pedestrian only, has also been marked for cycle use. This provides a further very useful quiet route towards Upper Tooting Park and allows cyclists in both directions to avoid the narrower, western, part of Balham High Road.
The signage on Trinity Crescent appears to be more complicated than it might be. The small part of the street nearest Trinity Road appears to be 2-way for all vehicles, but the signage does not make this clear. An on-road cycle symbol here would be useful to warn motorists entering the road. Some one-way repeater signs appear to be redundant and can be removed and some additional ‘except cyclists’ plates would be useful, particularly opposite junctions such as that with Flowermead.
Temperley Road SW12 (Balham ward)
A short section of Temperley Road between Ramsden Road and Balham Grove is one way eastbound for motor vehicles. Allowing west-bound cyclists to use this also opens up a number of quiet east-west routes in this area and allows easy north-south travel between Balham and the local cycle routes north of Nightingale Lane.
This link has good sight lines and appeared to work well. The narrowing caused by the kerb build out at the eastern end of the one-way section may require cyclists to wait briefly before entering, but this is not likely to occur very often and does not seem likely to put cyclists at risk. A cycle cut-through for the build-out might be considered at a later stage if problems do emerge. The signage and markings are clear and well-positioned.
Furmage and Twilley Streets SW18 (Earlsfield ward)
Twilley Street north of Kimber Road has two (opposing) one-way sections for motor vehicles so that drivers entering from either Kimber Road or Garratt Lane cannot travel between these two section but must travel via Furmage Street to Garratt Lane. This removes all but local traffic from the northern part of Twilley Street and Esparto Street, but does allow motor vehicles travelling from
Kimber Road to Garratt Lane to use it as a rat run to avoid the traffic lights at Kimber Rd/Swaffield Rd/Garratt Lane cross roads. Allowing cyclists to travel west along Furmage Street and then South on Twilley Street allows cyclists from Garratt Lane to avoid having to make the very difficult right turn at the traffic lights at this busy crossroads at the eastern end of Kimber Road.
This was the busiest of the sites and it was clear that there will be times when the volume of motor traffic using this route might deter some cyclists from using the contra-flow section, particularly on Furmage Street where the carriageway is narrowed by a build-out. We note that the consultation plans include a cyclist cut through at this point and consider that this should be implemented as soon as the trial period is complete. However, even with the high traffic flow at the time of our visit, we were able to use the route comfortably in both directions (with short waits to allow oncoming traffic to pass) and consider that the route is greatly preferable to the alternative of having to wait in the outer (right turn) lane at the signalised junction of Garratt Lane and Kimber Road. It should be noted that many cyclists using Garratt Lane will be able to make use of this facility by entering Twilley Street directly (adjacent to the Co-op store) and so avoid using Furmage Street in its entirety.
There were some signs missing, particularly on Furmage Street and – most importantly – one on-road cycle symbol and arrow at the junction of Twilley Street and Kimber Road has been positioned on the wrong side of the road. This would put any cyclist who positioned themselves according to the sign at great risk from turning traffic. The appropriate council officer has been informed and has undertaken to conduct an urgent site visit to assess the situation.