This is our response to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets: Liveable Streets Bethnal Green, submitted November 2019.
We support the aims of the scheme in improving the area for walking, cycling and public transport, improving air quality and helping discourage through-traffic and antisocial behaviour. Schemes such as this one are urgently needed for Tower Hamlets and London to meet their respective sustainable transport objectives.
Scheme design – comments on specific sections
Scheme 1: Arnold Circus area
We strongly support the new public space created by removing motor vehicle access on Arnold Circus, as well as the new through-traffic closures on Virginia Road and Old Nichol Street. It is unclear what the proposals will entail for cyclists on Arnold Circus - in particular, whether they will be segregated from pedestrians or the area will be shared. Given the potential for the space as a place for people to congregate, we would recommend the latter.
Additional cycle parking should be provided, given the area will grow more popular a destination. Similarly, many more bike hangars should be provided given the prominence of multi-story buildings in the area.
A significant decluttering of Bethnal Green Road is needed, with continuous footways at side road junctions. The proposed resurfacing presents an opportunity to remove car parking and provide mandatory cycle lanes.
As for all other sections of the scheme, it is essential that electric vehicle charging infrastructure be provided on carriageway rather than on the footway. Careful consideration should be given to ensure they might not hinder future segregated cycling infrastructure, by placing them on streets where traffic volumes are lower than 200 PCUs at peak hour.
It is important that cycles will be exempt from all the through-traffic closures and one-way system.
Scheme 2: Columbia Road area
We support the proposed aspiration to reduce traffic flow on Columbia Road through road closures and new one-way systems, with the expectation that contraflow cycling be permitted. We would support more ambitious plans to remove all motorised through-traffic from Columbia Road, which would have a transformational effect on the street. We would also support filtering Ravenscroft Street.
The proposals should include resurfacing Columbia Road, which is currently in poor condition. As part of the resurfacing, some of the existing very sharp round top speed humps should be replaced with sinusoidal humps.
The proposals should also explore the complete removal of parking along Columbia Road, celebrating the wonderful shop frontages and creating the opportunity for street markets on working days, as well as much-needed cycle parking.
We strongly support the new place-making scheme at Gosset Street at the Gosset Street/ Columbia Road mini-roundabout, where the mini-roundabout is currently extremely dangerous and hostile to people walking and cycling. The new scheme will be transformational in connecting Gosset Street to Ravenscroft Park.
We would support further place-making around the existing modal filter at the junction of Ravenscroft Street and Columbia Road.
Scheme 3: Warner place area
We strongly support the new place-making scheme at the Warner Place/ Gosset Street junction, as well as the one-way system to prevent through traffic (as long as contraflow cycling is permitted).
Some consideration should be given to whether through-traffic should still be able to use Wellington Row and Barnet Grove. If so, further modal filters should be considered to prevent this.
We strongly support the modal filter on Old Bethnal Green Road, which will transform the area for local communities. Consideration should be given to whether the car-free area could be extended to encompass the entire length between Canrobert Street and Clarkson Street, creating a small park for the local community.
We strongly support all complementary closures, traffic restrictions and pocket parks.
Given the expected changes in traffic volumes, careful consideration should be given to providing continuous footways at all side roads along Old Bethnal Green Road.
Scheme 5: Sale Street area
We strongly support the new placemaking scheme at Sale Street, the closure of Derbyshire Street and the new one-way systems, presuming cycles will be exempt.
Given the large number of residential properties in the area, further consideration should be given to providing additional long stay (bike hangars) and short-stay (on carriageway Sheffield stands) in the area.
We support the new Zebra crossing on Dunbridge Street.
The scheme could do more to improve Bethnal Green Road: improved crossings to address severance, widened footways, reduced on-street car parking (replaced with much-needed on-carriageway cycle parking fronting shops) and formalised loading bays.
The information available provides no detail on many supporting measures (decluttering, electric vehicle charging point location, side road treatments, bike hangar and cycle parking locations).
It is essential for these to be in line with the aspirations of the scheme, for example by ensuring all electric vehicle charging infrastructure is on carriageway rather than on footway, continuous footways are provided at side road junctions, bike hangar provision accommodates for current and future demand, and on-street cycle parking provision is on carriageway rather than on footway.
If you require any clarifications or further information on our response, please email Ollie.More@sustrans.org.uk Policy Officer, London at Sustrans.