Is this the most pointless zebra crossing in South London? I certainly thought so as I approached the new Herne Hill junction at Brockwell Park at the weekend. In a ten minute period, I counted ten cars in succession fail to stop for ten groups of pedestrians who were trying to enter Brockwell Park.
The new slip road in SE24 finally opened last week, following a three-year period of campaigning for and against the replacement of parkland with a road. The local community was split, with the Herne Hill Society supporting the scheme, and the Friends of Brockwell Park being adamantly against the surrendering of precious green land.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. The old junction wasn’t working. The traffic was constantly congested; the entrance to the park was neglected and had become a haven for street drinkers. The actual park space sacrificed to solve the problem was a minor, minor 0.02%
But still – with the Brockwell Park junction now open is it actually working?
My observations on Saturday would suggest not. I accept it is still very early days, and the full implementation of the scheme is yet to be complete. The closure of the area outside of Herne Hill station to traffic is still a work in progress. The effectiveness of the overall plan can’t be properly assessed until this is complete.
But it seems to me that the planning, and justification of the scheme, has been badly thought out. The literature from our friends @lambeth_council, released in September 2007 to try and persuade locals to support the scheme, stated:
“Island Green [urgh!] will provide an attractive link between the centre of Herne Hill and the Park, giving people safer access to and from the Park.”
Island Green [urgh! again] is actually the great big slab of pavement that now replaces the green park land, the very same great big slab of pavement where pedestrians are left stranded as traffic flows down the slip road and blocks off the route into the splendour of Brockwell Park.
The fancy architect diagram contained in the literature from @lambeth_council has Island Green [urgh! urgh! urgh!] actually shaded in a soft, pastel yellow and green tone. What exists now is an unimaginative, and very out of place, huge big slab of concrete. A bit of guerrilla gardening is urgently needed.
And what of the fate of cyclists, in what is a notoriously Green political part of the borough where cycling is a stronghold? The @lambeth_council 2007 literature states:
“Forward stop lines and easier access from Norwood Road into Dulwich Road will help cyclists.”
Um, not so.
The forward stop lines are the green boxes that motorists hog up as they edge ever close to cyclists and try and gain advantage. The choice for cyclists is to be pushed aside at the boxes, or risk being rammed into Green Island, as the narrow slip road can’t accommodate anything but single file traffic.
This is a poorly thought out scheme that adds no beauty, or even ease of traffic congestion to the Herne Hill junction. As you can probably detect, my frustration over such a wasted opportunity needed an outlet.
Thankfully the very decent Robert Holden of the Herne Hill Society was at hand on Saturday to talk me through my concerns, Robert has been a passionate supporter of the scheme, and had put in an incredible workload to try and find a solution for the Herne Hill junction.
We had an enjoyable and constructive discussion. My concerns over the effectiveness, and appearance of the whole project remain. I accept time is needed to fully assess the project, and I welcomed the Robert’s enthusiasm to take on suggestions, and the possibility of making Green Island more… greener.