Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pelham School Top in Big Pedal

Pelham School has won the London-wide category of Sustrans’Big Pedal cycle challenge. Hat-tip to the school, to Sustrans and to all the parents, teachers and of course the kids.
What’s all the more admirable is that Pelham School’s achievement has taken place in a cycle infrastructure desert . There’s some attempt to keep speeds down with road humps on the neighbouring roads in the Ministers area, but there’s no attempt to limit through traffic past the school, there are no cycle lanes or cycle paths, and no particularly satisfactory cycle routes.

(above) Pelham School itself is on Southey Road, a wide expanse of tarmac with plenty of room for a cycle path. The width of the road and the speed cushions simply encourage motorists to drive faster than the 20MPH limit, and if you do, you'll have more chance of getting a winning lottery ticket than a speeding ticket.

To the north, the official cycle route takes you down Trinity Road, which is usually busy and you can rely on getting cut up by over-enthusiastic motorists trying to overtake you whilst trying to avoid crashing into the horizontal traffic calming measures you see in the photo below.

The alternative is to go round South Park Gardens where you’re thwarted by one-way streets designed to stop rat-running motor traffic. To the south, the Old Merton Park area is fairly cycle-friendly. Not because the Council have done anything much for cyclists, but because there is no through-traffic – the only entry and exit points are to the Kingston Road. However, crossing the Kingston Road is difficult.

The only easy and safe way legally to cross Kingston Road if you’re with a child on a cycle is to walk your bikes to the pelican crossing beyond Southey Road, or the crossing between Russell Road and Gladstone Road, and then walk back along the narrow pavement.

It wouldn't be a hard problem to make Southey Road pedestrian and cycle-friendly: just close the entrances at Kingston Road and Broadway to motor traffic. Residents will still be able to access from other roads, and they might appreciate the peace and quiet and a more people-centric streetscape. Allow contraflow cycling on the one-way streets to the north of the Broadway, and put in a toucan crossing at the Kingston Road and you've got yourself a route to Pelham School, and onward to the town centre to boot. Why don't the Council get it?

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