Thursday, 2 October 2008

Blackhorse Lane consultation

The council is proposing a large scale new ‘traffic management’ scheme where Forest Road meets Blackhorse Lane. The council has already started building a new road linking Forest Road and Hookers Road. The scheme is the consequence of the ‘regeneration’ of the industrial area west of Blackhorse Lane – mainly new housing. The proposal to build massive new tower blocks has apparently been shelved but whether or not they will return in another form is unclear.

Residents are being invited to consider the scheme and offer comments. Details are in the current issue of the council's free newspaper WFM or can be seen online here.

The scheme is supposed to result in a great improvement for pedestrians. This may well be the case outside Blackhorse Road station, though as usual the plans lack the kind of micro-detail
which allow any judgement on this (e.g. can pedestrians cross two branches of a junction in one go or will they be marooned on traffic islands and penned in by fencing, and will the phasing prioritise vehicle flow or walking flow, and what will the length of the crossing times be?). The new roundabout on Blackhorse Lane is plainly going to be detrimental to to the convenience of pedestrians, who will have to wait to cross new junctions with high traffic flows.

And cyclists? As far as I can see the words ‘cyclists’ and ‘cycling’ nowhere appear in the scheme. If the area is going to be regenerated then Blackhorse Road station should be provided with substantial cycle parking facilities, which it currently lacks. The death-trap fencing at the junction also needs ripping out.

The scheme includes a proposal to ban right turns from Forest Road into Blackhorse Lane. This would allow the construction of a two metre wide cycle lane on the south side of Forest Road,
physically separated from motor traffic. But this doesn’t seem to be in the plan. As most of this section of Forest Road is single lane only there is now no justification for retaining two traffic lanes at the junction; this space could and should be reclaimed for cycling. But this is doubtless anathema to the brain of a highway engineer.

A new junction with traffic lights is proposed on Forest Road at the junction with the link road through the development area. Looking at the plan, cyclists will have to wait at the lights with motor traffic. There is no justification for this, since there is no junction on the south side, which means that a segregated cycle lane could be installed on Forest Road, allowing cyclists to pass when the lights are at red. If this isn't done then I expect cyclists will compensate for this new restriction on their convenience by ignoring the lights.

These are points which anyone interested in walking or cycling might like to consider, if they comment on the scheme.