Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wimbledon Station Redevelopment

Merton Council have an ongoing project to tart up the streets around the mainline station.

Let's be clear: this development was not undertaken to make Wimbledon cycle-friendly. Merton don't see cycling as a transport mode so it doesn't get much if any consideration in these kinds of schemes. That's why the revisions contain nothing for the less confident cyclist and won't attract new cyclists.  won't make it easier for local people to cycle to local shops, and anyone wanting to cycle with their kids to central Wimbledon won't find conditions improved. It would make a lot more sense when planning expensive street-scene  developments like this to take an holistic view of transport, and plan for the next 15 years - which is after all the duration of the LIP2, and a period in which Merton claim they hope to increase cycling. And 'hope' is the operative word - there's no strategy.

However, within the limited scope and terms of the station forecourt development, there are worthwhile improvements for active modes of travel - mainly pedestrians, but also for cycling. I hope with the above rant your expectations have been set at a low level, but you might want to lower them a couple of notches further just so you aren't too disappointed....

(Above) Cycling past the station towards Centre Court (south-east-bound), you notice the two narrow lanes that were there before have been reduced to one wider lane. There's no cycle lane marked, but it's a lot easier to filter and the traffic is likely to be slowed although TfL think there should be no.impact on traffic flow. There's a layby with parking spaces just past the station forecourt.

 (Above) In the other direction on the same piece of road, there's a central island, but the kerb is flush with the road surface and the island has a gentle camber, so this will enable you to cycle over it and filter past on the right-hand side of the queue of traffic. There's a kerb at the crossing however so you have to cut in at that point.
(Above) More of the same; the 'virtual island' enables you to overtake the queue on the right, and on the left at this point there's a lead-in lane. (below)

(Above) Continuing north-west up Wimbledon Hill Road, there's a single lane rather than the previous two lane arrangement (you can still see where the previous markings have been erased). Hopefully this setup will calm the traffic somewhat.

(Above) The cab rank has been moved to the side of the station together with the disabled bays...

(above) ...and the station forecourt has been completely pedestrianised, with a bank of sheffield stands on the left there, which on a Saturday was loaded with a full complement of bikes (below). In other words, there's not nearly enough of them.

What else? The pavements have been widened and there's going to be a diagonal crossing (Oxford Circus-style) at the Alexandra Road junction.

In summary, the new road layouts do make it a bit easier to get through this area of central Wimbledon on a bike, but you still have to be a confident cyclist. You've still got large volumes of fast-moving traffic going past you in close proximity. There's more chance of snow in hell than of more girls cycling along this road to get to the nearby Ricard's Lodge school. And bear in mind this might be the last major work done here in the period up to 2026, by which cycling should have increased 400% to meet the Mayor of London's decidedly under-ambitious target. What's more, Merton's LIP2 aims to more than triple cycling over 2010 levels by 2015. You might have spotted the disconnect between Merton talking a good game on cycling, and what they're doing on the ground...

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