Last week Transport for London (TfL) went live with this consultation for Balham High Road. The date for responses to be received is the 15th November.
In our opinion TfL can and should be proposing significantly better. The proposals should include:
- Protected continental style cycle lanes
- Bus stop cycle lane bypasses
If what is currently on the table isn't significantly improved then Balham Boulevard will just be the name of the current road with perhaps some more paint on it.
TfL's assertion in this consultation that "It is not possible to provide a segregated cycle lane at this location due to access to residential properties being required" is not true. The London Cycle Design Standards (LCDS) illustrate how this can be done. A road for motor vehicles doesn't pose a problem for access to residential properties, neither does a pavement. Consultations for the Mini-Holland projects in London show that TfL can do this.
Floating bus stops or lack thereof. Across the UK floating bus stops are now being specified and designed into road schemes. A floating bus stop is where the bus stop is on the outside of a cycle lane. This allows people who are cycling to pass a bus whilst using the cycle lane without needing to mix with motor traffic. Something that is necessary particularly if we would like to see families with young children able to cycle to school along busy main roads.
There has been a 28% drop in motor traffic volumes (2005-2013) along the A24 Clapham South to Tooting Bec. Providing a real alternative to travelling short trips by building proper cycle lanes along a road this wide would not only give people real choice as to how they travel, but also make it easier for those who need to drive to get around too.
The central reservation hasn't been touched. This is wasted space currently helping no-one. From Tooting Bec heading south there is effectively only a single lane for motor traffic in each direction, and the same goes northbound once you start going through Balham. Smoothing out the narrow points for motor traffic would provide a more consistent travel time for motor traffic and free up significant amount of space to improve the public realm for walking and cycling, as well as the local environment for businesses and residents.
In case you are wondering how this can be put forward given the high quality of other schemes which have gone to consultation recently, the answer is the politics. It is self evident that TfL has the engineering capability &/or sourcing capability to brief consultants to come up with high quality schemes that will deliver significant improvements to all road users.
In the absence of a strong political steer as to what is wanted, the engineers are being asked to please everyone which isn't possible. This is a huge opportunity to genuinely improve the local area for generations to come. What is currently on the table frankly just isn't good enough.
We have until the 15th November to respond. Please encourage as many people as possible to feed in their views.