Our Association visited the junction of Albemarle Road and St Georges Road this morning and at 9am met with ward Councillor Stephen Wells, project officers from Bromley Council and a traffic engineer. Our first impression was of significantly increased congestion on Albemarle Road, which died down at 9.30 when the peak was over. We were told that traffic was running much better than the day before, which is good news.
This is what we noted:
Albemarle Road to St George’s Road
- Traffic is two-way on Albemarle Road between the High Street and St George’s Road. Traffic coming from the High Street is required to turn right into St George’s Road (by the car park and next to the school). Often vehicles were unable to make the turn as they were impeded by cars queuing the other way (coming out of the one-way section of Albemarle Road). The Council agrees a yellow box will need to be installed here.
- When gaps in the traffic occurred, and when the traffic had died down after peak time, we noted a few cars taking this turn quite fast. However most vehicles were cautious of the new road layout.
- There is a significant increase in traffic now being pushed down St George’s Road past the school at peak time.
- An elderly resident approached us concerned with the difficulty of crossing over St George’s Road to continue walking along Albemarle Road (which they had just tried to do). Vehicles turning onto St George’s Road from Albemarle Road (coming from the High Street) have priority as it’s now one continuous road with a bend (rather than making a righthand turn into another road where vehicles watch for pedestrians) and this could be a real hazard. Our ward Councillor took away this feedback for consideration. Meanwhile, pedestrians crossing here should take extra care.
Albemarle Road cycle lane
- We felt that there was definitely a notable increase in backed-up traffic heading westbound – although our ward Councillor disagreed.
- There is a give way sign for vehicles coming out of the one-way section of Albemarle Road (they should give way to the cars turning right into St George’s Road) but many did not adhere to the instruction. However, it is a new scheme, and it will take a few weeks for drivers to get used to it.
- Frustrated with the significant wait to get to Beckenham Junction, some drivers resorted to going around The Green (by turning on to St George’s Road, right on to Bromley Road and then right again by NatWest to get to Beckenham Junction). This is not ideal.
- The cycle lane only offers segregated cycling in one direction. Cyclists coming from Beckenham to Bromley are in a safe cycle lane which eventually will have ‘wands’/slim bollards separating it from the traffic (these have yet to be installed). But for cyclists going back to Beckenham the cycle lane is not segregated, and parking is allowed across the cycle lane, interrupting it with parked vehicles. This does not seem any better than before (not that we are advocating to remove the parking).
- As a cyclist, turning right into the cycle lane from St George’s Rd feels hazardous especially at peak times. One of our members felt vulnerable waiting on their bike in the middle of the new bend in the carriageway in order to turn right onto the new cycle lane on Albemarle Road.
Westgate Bridge and Foxgrove Road
- The traffic engineer commented that since making the Westgate Road Bridge one-way (from The Avenue side), much more traffic was going over it. This suggests that Foxgrove Road and The Avenue are now taking increased traffic (traffic that would have ordinarily gone over the bridge at Southend Road and down Albemarle Road).
- Traffic coming over Westgate Road Bridge will need to go across Albemarle Road to Westgate Road (difficult to navigate with parked cars on both sides), to join with Bromley Road and continue on towards Bromley. It’s likely this will become a pinch point.
- Cyclists wanting to travel south to north towards Beckenham Place Park / The Avenue / Foxgrove Road, must dismount and push their bikes on the pavement over Westgate Road Bridge. The pavement here is quite narrow, and it will be difficult to pass someone coming in the opposite direction without having to step onto the road. And impossible to maintain social distancing! Alternatively they will need to cycle up to Beckenham Junction and make a right-hand turn.
- Our Councillors have advised they want to put in a right-hand filter light to get more vehicles through when turning from Albemarle Road to Southend Road. This is great and will certainly reduce congestion. We asked the Council Officers when it was likely to be done and were advised they had already been asking for three years, so it’s not likely to be any time soon!
- Our Councillors advised that they hoped to remove the parking along The Green on Albemarle Road to create a second lane. Let’s hope the Council do this quickly as it will help to reduce congestion.
- Our Association has asked for the red and white barriers by Beckenham Junction to be reviewed and for the left-hand lane from the High Street into Rectory Road (by the Thai restaurant) to be reinstated. We are pleased that one of our ward Councillors has requested the barriers here be removed on 2nd December.
- One of our Committee members noted that cycling out of the new Albemarle Road cycle lane towards Beckenham Junction at peak time was not particularly safe. The scheme falls short of the most complex junction which has no cycling infrastructure at all. Our member did the right-hand turn from Albemarle Road to Southend Road bridge and felt quite unsafe with no cycle box at the lights and no clear markings for where to wait in the middle of the junction for a break in the oncoming traffic.
We asked how this scheme was going to fit into the Quietway planned for Worsley Bridge Road (especially now cyclists cannot cycle over Westgate Road bridge to access the quieter roads of Foxgrove and The Avenue enroute to the Quietway) and were told that integration wasn’t in the plans, at least not at this time. We hope there will be a much broader strategy to improve cycling and pedestrian infrastructure whilst carefully managing traffic displacement and dealing with pinch points and potential pinch points before they occur. AND most importantly to consult fully with local people.
It is still very early days and we expect the scheme will settle down further. The Council are actively monitoring the new scheme and are open to ideas and suggestions to improve it, so please get in touch with them at email@example.com and don’t forget to copy us in at firstname.lastname@example.org .
There has been a petition set up in opposition to the scheme. You can find out more here.