Wealdstone town centre consultation – Feb 2020

This scheme is currently open for consultation (deadline 21 Feb 2020):

https://consult.harrow.gov.uk/consult.ti/Wealstonetcimprov/consultationHome

Harrow proposes changes to the bus routes in order to accommodate increases in the number of buses and to reduce delays to buses. Road and footway surfaces will be replaced, and there is a new short section of cycle track along High Street linking Gordon Road and Canning Road, part of the TfL Wembley to Wealdstone cycleway.

However, the scheme makes no attempt to reduce motor traffic, it makes cycling conditions worse and is poorly designed for pedestrians. We therefore oppose this scheme.

One of the problems with the scheme is that it makes part of the High Street one-way with no cycling contraflow. This is a major problem which will prevent people from cycling southbound or from accessing the High Street from residential roads via Grant Road.

Key locations where improvements are needed to the Wealdstone town centre scheme

The plan above shows key improvements that are needed for the scheme to make walking and cycling easier and safer. If you are responding to the consultation, please mention these five points.

We have taken a more detailed look at the scheme and the surrounding area, particularly with regard to cycle routes between key destinations.

Cycle routes surrounding the proposed Wealdstone High Street scheme. Outline of the scheme limits is shown in black. Red dashed lines show cycle desire lines that are not currently part of the plan, but which need to be included as part of a comprehensive network if cycling is to become a preferred mode of transport.
  • Part of the High Street is one way with no cycle contraflow. This means that cyclists have to take a detour along George Gange Way, which is dangerous for cycling. A segregated contraflow cycle lane needs to be provided on the one-way section of High Street.
  • Some of the cycle routes are shared with pedestrians, but this is not appropriate for busy town centre. Busy cycle routes should be segregated from pedestrians.
  • Some of the pedestrian routes do not have crossings along desire lines. Continuous footways should be used across minor accesses on the High Street, and zebra crossings should be provided wherever people are likely to want to cross busy roads, such as at the Canning Town / High Street junction.
  • Car parking and loading bays on the High Street are positioned in locations that will prevent space being available for cycle lanes. The location of parking and loading bays should be revised, with some of them moving to side roads in order to prioritise space for walking and cycling along the High Street.
  • The plans assume that motor vehicle routes and traffic volumes will remain as they are. Harrow council should investigate ways of reducing car traffic through Wealdstone town centre, such as road user charging or closing certain roads to cars. We suggest closing Masons Avenue to cars to enable it to become a high quality walking and cycling route.
  • The scheme provides only a limited selection of safe, high quality cycle routes, whereas many more direct routes are available for motorists. As shown on the map, we need cycle routes between:
    • Harrow and Wealdstone Station and Headstone Drive (for access to the Kodak development)
    • Harrow and Wealdstone Station and Harrow Leisure Centre (a direct route that avoids the detour through the town centre)
    • High Street and Grant Road (a minor road which provides access to residential areas to the north-east of Wealdstone)
    • Local links between Harrow and Wealdstone Station and the High Street, and between the station and the proposed cycle route over the bridge

Harrow Cyclists / London Cycling Campaign response

We submitted a set of detailed suggestions along with the summary response below.

This scheme is opposed. It will not enable more people to cycle in the area, nor will it fulfil the potential identified in TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis (SCA) nearby for cycling, nor will it make existing cycling significantly safer.

The scheme may deliver benefits for buses and bus passengers, and improve the public realm in the area, but by failing to adequately tackle motor traffic dominance at this location, the scheme will fail to deliver the best outcomes for anyone.

We would urge Harrow Council to, as a matter of absolute urgency, and particularly considering the council’s declaration of a climate emergency, do the following:

  • Produce a robust climate emergency action plan and new transport strategy alongside, demonstrating how, as a council, it will act to rapidly reduce car use and unleash the potential for cycling (and walking and public transport use) in the borough and for its residents.
  • Update all Highways engineers and officers training to reflect modern approaches to designing for and enabling cycling, to ensure all Highways schemes are designed to fulfil a re-tooled transport strategy with appropriate mode shift targets including reductions in car use.
  • Ensure all councillors, particularly those in the cabinet, are fully briefed and trained to understand cycling, cycling schemes, and the role of motor traffic in a climate emergency.
  • Both councillors and officers should consider visiting schemes elsewhere in London to learn from, such as those in the Enfield and Waltham Forest mini-Hollands particularly.
  • Commit to engaging fully with resident experts and campaigners on such schemes going forward well before public consultation, and importantly, listening to them and taking on board criticisms.

Specific comments on this scheme:

The scheme continues to provide multiple routes for private motor traffic through Wealdstone town centre. The High Street north-south alignment should be made bus, cycle and pedestrian only (with loading either via side streets or only at certain times). Private motor traffic should be redirected to the A409 entirely. This approach, or one like it would vastly improve public transport here, create a far better shopping environment and enable far more people to walk and cycle through the town centre and to/from it.

The current scheme materials state one aim of the scheme is to “make improvements to the quality of cycle routes in the High Street area and make accessing the town centre easier and safer for cyclists”. The changes proposed to cycle routes are so disjointed and partial that they provide no overall improvement, and by removing the option for people to cycle southbound along the High Street they actually make the town centre less accessible by bike.

Specifically, the short sections of cycle track fail to connect to each other or even safely cross any junctions, including side streets. They will therefore not enable anyone who does not currently cycle here to start, nor will they be well used or confer significant safety benefits to those who do cycle here currently despite deeply hostile road conditions.

TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis (SCA) highlights several routes that should be prioritised for much higher cycling levels in the area, including a north-south route from Harrow Weald to Harrow, Harrow to Pinner, Wealdstone to Edgware and Harrow to Kingsbury and Hendon. The SCA also highlights zones where there is the highest potential to grow cycling. to the west of Wealdstone and Harrow is one such area, while to the south east of Wealdstone is also an area of highest current cycle demand. This scheme does not appear to coherently engage with these corridors and zones. It should.

Reducing through motor traffic in the town centre, particularly in consideration of the zones the SCA highlights, implies strongly that the areas around the town should also be considered to remove the option of through motor traffic displacing onto residential and other non-distributor streets, using “low traffic neighbourhood” principles.

Walking is also poorly provided for in a scheme that fails to include necessary crossings in some locations, uses staggered crossings, and crossings away from the desire line in other locations.

One thought on “Wealdstone town centre consultation – Feb 2020

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