Emergency Streetspace for Harrow

Update 03/8/2020: Harrow’s Streetspace programme will be discussed at the TARSAP meering on 10 August: https://www2.harrow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=260&MId=64988&Ver=4

The proposals to be discussed include 9 low traffic neighbourhoods, to be created using temporary measures: https://harrowstreetspacesproposals.commonplace.is/

We support these measures and are asking for more across the borough. Low traffic neighbourhoods area networks of minor streets from which through motor traffic is excluded, but access is retained. When applied across a whole area, these measures discourage short car journeys and reduce motor traffic overall, and traffic counts following previous schemes show they do not increase congestion on main roads.

The council has already implemented 3 new cycle lanes in Harrow, by converting one traffic lane in each direction to a cycle lane along Sheepcote Road, part of Uxbridge Road and part of Honeypot Lane. A fourth scheme is proposed along George V Avenue. The lanes are segregated by traffic cones – a step in the right direction, although we recommend that the cones are upgraded to a bolted-in form of segregation as soon as possible, to prevent them from being displaced. The design details of the schemes can also be improved to extend them and add segregation at junctions – we have submitted detailed recommendations to the council.

They are also seeking people’s views on other areas that need attention – please add your comments and suggestions to the map: https://harrowstreetspacesmap.commonplace.is/

The COVID-19 pandemic requires improvements in walking and cycling infrastructure in order to prevent overcrowding on public transport or an increase in car use. The Government published statutory guidance on 9 May requiring all local authorities to make rapid improvements: “Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect.

The Department for Transport recommends the types of rapid measures that can be used:

The quickest and cheapest way of achieving [increased active travel] will normally be point closures. These can be of certain main roads (with exceptions for buses, access and disabled people, and other main roads kept free for through motor traffic), or of parallel side streets, if sufficiently direct to provide alternatives to the main road. Point closures can also be used to create low traffic neighbourhoods.

Pop-up segregated cycle lanes will also be funded but are likely to be more difficult to implement quickly. As the guidance states, they must use full or light segregation.

Anything that does not meaningfully alter the status quo will not be funded … 20mph zones can form part of a package of measures, but will not be sufficient on their own.”

Aligned with this guidance, the Mayor of London published the ‘Streetspace’ plan on 15 May which involves:

  • The “rapid construction” of a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials, with new routes, aimed at reducing crowding on public transport.
  • “complete transformation” of local town centres so that people can walk and cycle where possible, including widening footways on high streets so that people can safely queue outside shops.
  • Reducing traffic on residential streets and creating “low-traffic neighbourhoods”.

Suggested measures to improve Harrow’s streets

Thank you to everyone who contacted us with suggestions of locations that need improvement. We have compiled the list and informed the council, and added them to the council’s consultation map. We also recommended the following measures throughout Harrow:

  • default 20mph speed limit throughout Harrow, with higher speed limits only on trunk roads where safe
  • ‘school streets’ (streets closed to motor traffic at the beginning and end of the school day) at all primary schools
  • remove car parking that blocks cycle lanes
  • widen cycle lanes to an adequate width (at least 1.5 metres) and make them mandatory. If there is not enough road space for cycle lanes, remove cycle lanes that are too narrow (as they encourage close overtaking)
  • change the priorities where cycle tracks cross side road junctions, so that the cycle track has priority
  • reduce the waiting time at pedestrian crossings, and remove the need to push a button to cross
  • convert roadside car parking into space for pedestrians, where needed for social distancing

TfL Streetspace Analysis

We include below some excerpts from the Mayor’s document that are relevant to Harrow, along with options for creating a temporary strategic cycling network.

The map below shows proposed cycle routes based on analysis of cycle demand and public transport use.

Low traffic neighbourhoods are networks of streets without through motor traffic, which should provide pleasant places to walk and cycle. TfL has carried out an analysis to show the potential and need for traffic filtering based on volume of through traffic, modelled cycling potential, walking and cycling casualties, population density, footway widths, the number of schools and level of deprivation.

Potential for low traffic neighbourhoods in Harrow according to TfL’s Strategic Neighbourhood Analysis

Proposed cycle routes in Harrow

Based on on the Strategic Cycling Analysis, local knowledge and feasibility, Harrow Cyclists had developed a pre-COVID overview of potential cycle routes to be developed. In this map we have colour coded sections of route according to the work that would be required to create space for cycling.

The roads in blue are wide enough for lanes to be allocated to cycling without changes to kerbs. The roads in pink and brown will require more work, and the dotted black roads are probably too narrow for cycle lanes alongside two-way motor traffic and footways.

Pre-COVID Harrow Cyclists suggestions for priority cycle routes to be built in Harrow (Jan 2020)

We have overlaid the Temporary Strategic Cycling Analysis routes on this map to show which corridors require emergency cycling infrastructure (light blue).

TfL Streetspace Analysis overlaid on a map of Harrow, showing priority corridors for cycling and low traffic neighbourhoods

Many sections of the Temporary Strategic Cycling Analysis routes are marked along roads with insufficient width for temporary cycle lanes. Therefore many of the routes will be have to be created by removing through motor traffic from the main road or a parallel minor road. This can be done by closing roads at certain points to motor vehicles (with exemptions for buses and emergency vehicles if needed). The location of the point closures must be planned carefully to ensure that motor traffic is not diverted along a nearby minor road.

The map below shows some potential options for fulfilling the TfL Temporary Strategic Cycling Analysis routes. The dashed green lines are roads which could be suitable for cycling if through traffic were removed. Dashed pink lines show essential links that do not have space for temporary segregation and where removal of through motor traffic is probably not feasible. It may not be possible to bring these sections fully up to standard with temporary measures, so installation of permanent infrastructure should be prioritised.

Options for rapidly creating cycle routes along the corridors identified by TfL’s Temporary Strategic Cycling Analysis

Detailed temporary cycle route options for TfL recommended corridors

Northwick Park to Wealdstone (Station Road / Sheepcote Road)

Sheepcote Road is 4 lanes wide, and Station Road is also 4 lanes wide south of the Hindes Road junction. Along this section, space for cycling can be created by installing temporary barriers to create cycle lanes.

North of the Hindes Road junction, Station Road will require kerb realignment in order to fit permanent cycle lanes. A temporary solution would be for cyclists to use minor roads in low traffic neighbourhoods to be created in the Greenhill / Marlborough area.

Travelling further north into Wealdstone, cyclists have to cross the railway line. The Station Road bridge has a narrow section where it crosses Marlborough Road, so it is not wide enough for cycle lanes. The only way to create a safe temporary cycle route across the railway line is to close a bridge or underpass to motor vehicles, or reduce the width to one lane. In the map we have presented the option of closing the Headstone Drive underpass to motor vehicles except buses. This would also reduce traffic on the east-west route (Headstone Drive) and make it more suitable for cycling.

Pinner to Northwick Park Roundabout (Pinner Road / Lowlands Road / Kenton Road)

This east-west route is drawn on TfL’s Streetspace map along Pinner Road. However, Pinner Road is too narrow for temporary segregated cycle lanes, and if it probably not feasible to close it to motor traffic as cars will then be diverted along nearby minor roads.

Therefore a route along parallel minor roads is probably the best option. Harrow council has already marked out a route along Vaughan Road, The Gardens, Blenheim Road and Northumberland Road, but these roads currently have too much through traffic and will need point closures (a low traffic neighbourhood approach) to make them safe and convenient for cycling. A new signalised crossing of Imperial Drive will also be required, because the current scheme requires cyclists to take a detour via a shared use area and toucan crossing, which does not allow sufficient space for pedestrians with distancing measures in place.

In the Harrow town centre, there are two options for east-west routes: Greenhill Way and Lowlands Road. However, neither street has space for continuous temporary cycle lanes (Lowlands Road has a number of central traffic islands which limit the space available). Closing one of the roads to motor traffic is the only way to rapidly create a cycle route that meets TfL standards. Lowlands Road may be the preferred option because it links directly to the cycle route on Vaughan Road, and is not a bus route. Closing Lowlands Road to motor vehicles will also enable the green open spaces of Lowlands and Grove Open space to be combined into a larger open space for people living in flats in the town centre.

The Tyburn Lane / Peterborough Road signalised junction needs a pedestrian phase. The section of Kenton Road between this junction and the Northwick Park roundabout has space for a segregated cycle lane on one side (eastbound), and the southern footway could be converted to a shared cycle lane for westbound cyclists.

Northolt to Headstone (Alexandra Avenue / Imperial Drive / Parkside Way)

There is already a cycle track along Alexandra Avenue, but it is unsafe because it does not ensure that turning motorists give way to cyclists at side road junctions. It needs to be upgraded by closing side roads to through motor traffic where possible (as part of low traffic neighbourhoods), and providing signage and road markings elsewhere to ensure the cycle track has priority over side roads.

Part of Imperial Drive is a wide dual carriageway but cyclists and pedestrians are squeezed together on a shared footway. This is not an adequate design; instead car parking should be removed and one motor traffic lane on each side converted to a cycle lane with temporary segregation.

The Imperial Drive / Ridgeway crossroads needs temporary traffic lights with cyclist and pedestrian phases. There is a segregated pedestrian crossing on one arm of the junction but the central island is too small for social distancing, and the other arms do not have pedestrian facilities.

The section of Imperial Drive between the Ridgeway junction and North Harrow station has narrow advisory cycle lanes which need to be upgraded to segregated lanes, but this will require kerbs to be moved so it will probably have to be done as a future permanent project.

Parkside Way, Headstone Gardens and Headstone Drive will also need kerb realignment in order to create segregated cycle lanes. However, the route can be improved immediately by banning car parking to ensure that the advisory cycle lanes are kept clear. Cyclists may prefer to use quieter roads in the proposed Headstone South low traffic neighbourhood instead.

Harrow town centre to Northolt (Bessborough Road / Northolt Road)

Parts of this route is too narrow for cycle lanes, even if the road is entirely redesigned. As the route cannot be fulfilled by temporary cycle lanes, and cannot feasibly be closed to motor traffic, a better option may be to create a parallel route through West Harrow and South Harrow by closing roads to through traffic. A set of bus gates and other point closures could substantially reduce traffic along Lascelles Avenue, Porlock Avenue, Roxeth Green Avenue and Eastcote Lane to be suitable for cycling.

Wealdstone to Edgware (Weston Drive / Wemborough Road / Whitchurch Lane)

This is one of four parallel east-west routes in Harrow available for motor vehicles; the others are Kenton Road, Streatfield Road and Uxbridge Road. The entire route is too narrow for temporary cycle lanes, as creation of permanent segregated cycle lanes would require kerbs and verges to be redesigned. There are no minor roads which provide an adequate alternative route.

Therefore as per DfT guidance, one of the main roads will have be closed to through motor traffic (with exemptions for buses) in order to fulfil this cycle route to TfL standards within the required timescale. On the map we have shown two options: (1) Weston Drive / Wemborough Road / Whitchurch Lane or (2) Christchurch Avenue / Streatfield Road / Camrose Avenue. Additional point closures in surrounding minor roads will be required to ensure that motorists use the surrounding main roads and do not ‘cut through’ minor roads.

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