Goodwill junction redesign

Harrow council is proposing to redevelop the Headstone Gardens / Harrow View / Headstone Drive traffic light junction to provide a pedestrian phase. Three out of four right turns will be banned at the junction to enable this to happen, and all pedestrians will cross at the same time (single-stage crossings). However, this route is a desire line for cycling (especially east-west) but cycling is not accommodated in this design – there are no segregated cycling facilities.

We think it is ESSENTIAL that segregated cycling facilities are built through this junction in the east-west direction. This needs to be planned as part of a scheme to enable cycling along Headstone Gardens / Headstone Drive, part of a link between North Harrow and Harrow and Wealdstone station. It is probably most feasible to build this scheme as a two-way segregated cycle track on the south side of the road. Our suggestions are given below in red.

In addition, cyclists should be able to turn right from any junction arm. Surrounding minor residential roads (Headstone South / Marlborough) should become low-traffic neighbourhoods, with measures to prevent rat-running by motorists trying to avoid the junction.

The speed limit on all roads in the area should be 20mph.

We have a discussion page on Cyclescape: https://www.cyclescape.org/threads/4762

Response from Harrow council

With reference to the Goodwill to All junction … we considered including cycle tracks on the footway to allow cyclists to bypass traffic queues at the signals during in the initial design stage of the scheme similar to your suggestion. Unfortunately, the footways along Headstone Gardens – Headstone Drive are not consistently wide enough to do so and therefore this was not feasible. Also, this would mean that the signal heads on Harrow View (south) would have to be relocated further back onto Harrow View, which would adversely affect the signal timing and network performance at the junction which is already operating over capacity at the moment. You will note that advanced cycle stop lines are included in the design and we will consider introducing no right turn except cyclists in the final design.

Harrow Cyclists counter-response 24 Oct

We wrote to the council following the October 2019 TARSAP meeting, at which the junction was discussed and two deputations were presented by local residents. Residents were unhappy with the plans because of potential adverse effects on local shops and the risk of more traffic on minor roads trying to bypass the junction. Respondents to the public consultation disliked the right turn bans and the lack of cycling facilities.

The new junction design was based on maximising motor traffic capacity while adding pedestrian crossings. Modelling and traffic forecasts have been based on continued growth in motor traffic. Data presented at the meeting showed that the option of signalising the existing pedestrian crossings while maintaining vehicle movements as at present would result in the junction being 125% over capacity. Banning two additional right turns as proposed would result in a junction which was 112% over capacity.

There are two approaches to the capacity issue – to reduce motor traffic or to try to increase space for driving. Reducing motor traffic is in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and Harrow’s public health and environmental strategies. This can be achieved by building a cycle network with high quality routes segregated from motor traffic. The east-west route through Goodwill Junction is a particularly important desire line; it is identified in the TfL Strategic Cycling Analysis, is an existing signed cycle route, and was marked as a route to be developed using section 106 money in Harrow council’s 2013 mini-Holland bid (see below). This stated “Junction to be remodelled to improve pedestrian and cycle facilities as part of section 106 funding. This bid will assist in improving cycle facilities”.

Excerpt from Harrow Council’s 2013 mini-Holland bid, showing how an east-west cycle route was planned to run through the Goodwill to All junction, built using section 106 money (the map is rotated 90 degrees; the Goodwill to All junction is at the bottom of the map)

However Harrow has opted for the second approach, with the proposed banned turns and lack of cycling provision aiming to maximise motor traffic throughput. This design strategy is fundamentally flawed. Growth in motor traffic is not inevitable, but it will happen if future roads increase motor vehicle capacity while failing to provide for cycling.

Motor traffic will decrease if more people are enabled to cycle. Dutch experience has shown that a cycle network grid needs to have routes approximately every 400 metres in order for cycling to be the mode of transport of choice. The nearest alternative east-west routes (through the Kodak site or along Marlborough Hill) are over 500 metres from Headstone Drive, and do not diminish the need for a cycle route through Goodwill Junction. Local shops will benefit from passing trade if cycle lanes are installed. We wrote to the council in 2017 urging for cycling to be designed into the plans, and have recently produced a diagram showing how a two-way cycle track could be accommodated on the south side of the junction.

Given that the current proposal is not popular with either motorists or cyclists, we suggest going ahead with only the pedestrian crossing signals initially, and using section 106 money to build low traffic neighbourhoods in the surrounding area (Headstone South and Marlborough). The junction can then be redesigned to incorporate cycle facilities as part of a future project.

Failing to include cycle provision at this key junction will set a precedent for the design of future junctions along cycle desire lines (many of which are just as constrained), and may jeopardise Harrow’s ability to build a cycle network at all.

Harrow council response 30 Oct 2019

As you will be aware the Council adopted its third Transport Local Implementation Plan earlier in the year and this has a continued and on-going focus on moving towards more travel by walking, cycling and public transport in order to limit and reduce the use of private cars. This reflects the aspirations in the London Mayor’s Transport Strategy that uncontained growth in vehicular traffic is unsustainable and there is an urgent need to promote healthy streets, healthy lifestyles and improve air quality in the city. In Harrow we recognise that cycling is the borough’s weakest mode share and we are dedicating a significant proportion of our resources to improving cycle infrastructure to provide a safe and accessible network of cycle routes that local cyclists can use. However, we recognise that changing travel habits is not something people can be forced to do and is something that will change over time gradually because it needs to be a choice that people make to be more sustainable and healthy. The Council’s role in this is to encourage that modal shift by sustaining a programme of infrastructure that makes alternative modes of travel more accessible and implementing policies that incentivise change.

When we look at locations in isolation, like the Goodwill to All junction, it is always necessary to consider all existing modes of travel and develop proposals that accommodate current and future travel needs and decide on the most appropriate interventions. In this case there is a transport assessment underpinning the planning permission granted for the Kodak site which highlights particular impacts of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the junction and a funding contribution agreed to make changes that can mitigate those impacts. In developing this proposal we recognise that a large increase in pedestrian traffic is likely from the development because of a new school, medical centre, business premises and up to 2,000 new homes. The parking standards applying to the development means that car ownership and use will be kept relatively low and therefore a significant proportion of people are likely to use public transport services and the bus stops at the junction. The inclusion of a pedestrian phase at the traffic signals is essential and will prioritise green time to pedestrians at the expense of vehicles. We are therefore not maximising motor vehicle capacity by doing this.

The other factor to take account of is the anticipated growth in vehicular traffic as a consequence of the increasing population and number of homes facilitated by the development. The introduction of right turn restrictions has been proposed because there is insufficient capacity to accommodate existing vehicular traffic, the additional vehicular traffic from development and the reduction in green time for vehicles at the junction because of a pedestrian phase. The proposed right turn restrictions provides a way of maximising the capacity in this constrained site. I accept that this is an unpopular measure but simply including a pedestrian phase without any other mitigations will cause an intolerable level of congestion and delay for people passing through the junction in vehicles in the future.

Taking account of all these factors it is quite clearly very difficult therefore to also provide dedicated space to cycle lanes when the likely switchable journeys from vehicles to cycling will be quite low and will not contribute to a significant proportion of journeys made through the junction. In this instance the options for including specific cycle infrastructure that take space from other vehicles are not viable or practical in this particular location. The Council has a duty under the Traffic Management Act to ensure the safe and expeditious movement of all traffic and we could not promote measures that would have a detrimental impact on the main modes of travel and result in a wide scale negative impact on he network. However, we have also taken account of the fact that the development will include a dedicated green link through the east and west development sites with a dedicated crossing facility across Harrow View that will run parallel to Headstone Drive and Headstone Gardens. This will provide an alternative route for east / west cycle journeys around the junction in the future.

The vast majority of comments received to the public consultation expressed concerns about the right turn restrictions as you know and this remains the main issue to be addressed as this project evolves.

While I appreciate that you may be disappointed by this response I would reiterate that we do have a strong commitment to improving cycling as a mode of travel across the borough and we will continue to work with the Harrow Cyclists to improve the uptake of cycling.