This web page contains Harrow Cyclists’ proposals for improvements to the streets in Wealdstone which we are asking the council to consider as part of a proposed ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ scheme.
Update Dec 2020: Harrow council has been provisionally awarded £7,448,583 from the High Street fund to improve Wealdstone. We will advocate for this to be spent on improvements for walking and cycling as outlined in this article. There was a consultation on proposed changes to the High Street in February 2020 but these were poor for walking and cycling, see our response here.
The need for improvement
Wealdstone is one of the more deprived parts of Harrow, and local residents suffer from various aspects of neglect. The high street has been in decline, there are concerns about crime, and there is too much traffic. The road network was radically redesigned about 20 years ago with the construction of a new flyover, George Gange Way, to divert traffic away from the high street.
The railway line acts as a barrier to the west, the road going under a dark underpass with a narrow carriageway.
Many of the walking routes in the area are narrow and unpleasant, and lack adequate road crossings. There has also been little consideration given to cycling – there are some signed routes and narrow painted cycle lanes on the roads, but they do not form a coherent network that is usable by most people.
Proposed Liveable Neighbourhood scheme
Harrow council is bidding for funding to transform the streets in the Wealdstone area, to make it more pleasant, safer, and healthier. If people choose to walk and cycle, there will be more people on the streets and they will feel safer. Reducing traffic will encourage people to interact and socialise more, it should improve community spirit and make the area a nicer place to live.
Improvements for walking and the public realm
Key policies should include:
- A 20mph speed limit throughout the area
- Low traffic neighbourhoods in the surrounding area, to remove through traffic from minor residential streets, reducing pollution and improving public safety
- School Streets for Whitefriars and Belmont primary schools, and engagement with schools to develop travel plans and minimise the number of pupils dropped by car
- More pedestrian crossings
- More trees and planting, replacing space used by parked cars (which can be positioned to help prevent motorists from illegally driving on footways)
- A controlled parking policy with strict enforcement, to reduce traffic generated by people driving to look for free parking. Car parking should be provided preferentially for club cars, to reduce private car ownership.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems using planting to replace some areas of tarmac, to promote biodiversity and reduce the risk of flooding
- More benches and public toilets to encourage people, especially families, elderly and disabled people, to stroll and enjoy the area
Improvements for cycling
Key priorities are:
- A 20mph speed limit throughout the area
- Cycle tracks to be built along key major roads, with segregation at junctions. Cycle routes should be direct, safe and convenient.
- Low traffic neighbourhoods in the surrounding area, to remove through traffic from minor residential streets
- More cycle parking for residents, commuters and visitors, including parking for adapted or cargo bikes and secure cycle hangars. Parking should be secure, easily accessible and close to major destinations such as tube stations and high streets.
- Cargo bike hire schemes, to enable residents to shift heavy goods
We propose two principal high quality cycle routes, running north-south (along Station Road and High Road) and east-west (along Headstone Drive, Ellen Webb Drive, Mason’s Avenue and Christchurch Avenue). These cross at a bridge near Harrow and Wealdstone Station, and are linked by cycle route along Palmerston Road (see below). They could also link with TfL’s cycleway to Kenton (see map above). Details of the proposed Station Road section are here.
A network of cycle tracks in Wealdstone town centre would provide easy access to the high street and station. We propose closure of part of Mason’s Avenue to motor vehicles, which will simplify some of the junctions and provide a high quality, direct cycle route between the Leisure Centre development and Harrow and Wealdstone station.
Headstone Drive links the new Kodak development with Wealdstone, but the railway underpass is a major barrier. To make space for safe cycling facilities, alternating traffic flow can be synchronised with toucan crossings on either side. This should not have too much of an adverse effect on motor traffic, because the capacity is already constrained by the crossroads at the Headstone Drive / Harrow View junction (Goodwill to All junction).
The road layout in the Wealdstone area should be safe, intuitive and easy to navigate. A contrasting colour (e.g. red tarmac) should be used for cycle lanes so that it can be easily distinguished from the footway and roadway. Uneven paving such as cobblestones should not be used on parts of the road used by pedestrians or cyclists. Footways should be clear of clutter to aid navigation by people with visual impairment or other disabilities. Cycle parking should be provided off the main pedestrian routes (e.g. in the space commonly used for roadside car parking) rather than where it would obstruct pedestrians.
Zebra crossings should be plentiful and located conveniently on pedestrian desire lines. Pedestrian guardrail should be avoided in general unless there is a height difference between the footway and the carriageway, as it makes walking inconvenient and encourages motorists to drive faster. Narrow advisory cycle lanes should be removed, as they encourage dangerous close overtakes. Car parking should be removed from cycle lanes and locations that may delay buses.
Continuous footway should be used at entrance to side roads in filtered neighbourhoods, and it is important that footways and cycle ways have priority over property accesses and minor side roads. This should be enforced by a steep hump on the motorist side, clear road markings to indicate that motorists must give way and footway / cycleway surfacing that is continuous across the access so that looks like a pedestrian / cycle space. Footways and roadside cycle tracks should not have level changes at driveways or other property accesses, as this is uncomfortable for people in wheelchairs, instead there should be a steep ramp for motorists.
Goals, targets and monitoring
Harrow should follow the lead of other successful projects in setting ambitious but realistic targets for modal shift, increases in walking and cycling, reductions in motor traffic and reductions in air pollution.
In Waltham Forest, the low traffic neighbourhoods resulted in a 56% reduction in traffic within the zone. Construction of high quality segregated cycle routes has resulted in major increases in the number of cycle journeys. The high intensity mini-Holland areas led to people walking and cycling on average 41 minutes more per week.
Progress should be monitored by a comprehensive programme of evaluation involving:
- Travel surveys, including school travel surveys
- Traffic counts (motor vehicles and cycles)
- Air pollution monitoring
There should be an ongoing programme of street improvements, with progressive modal shift away from driving to walking and cycling. Car parking spaces should be progressively replaced by other uses such as trees and planting.