Saturday 10 May 2008

The Waterloo Station entrance: a design disaster

A design disaster: the main entrance to Waterloo Station. The attractive baroque arch has had a monstrously banal office block built right alongside, and the foreground is cluttered with an incoherent forest of signs, railings and sundry objects. William Morris gave his last public speech here - he would weep to see how backward and banal London still is.

And note that even here the small minority of drivers is given precedence over the vastly greater numbers of pedestrians. Walkers are forced out across a carriageway into a central strip. If you are turning left into York Road you then have to cross back again, because railings prevent you taking the simplest and quickest route. No wonder the man in the photo below is choosing to walk in the road rather than take the longer route. And note the scores of bikes locked to those railings. No cycle stands.

Because there is grossly inadequate cycle parking, cyclists compete to attach their machines to every available sign or railing:

Outside, on York Road, a wide pavement suffers from the usual spread of incoherent, ill-thought out clutter:

If you are heading across the road to the South Bank the green phase for pedestrians lasts about three seconds (and Mayor Johnson plans to increase the red phase for pedestrians in London, so that drivers have to wait less). I don't walk slowly but even I wasn't even half way across the road before the green phase ended.

Once walkers have negotiated all the 'car first' obstacles, they are free to enter the South Bank's exciting, attractive, exclusively pedestrian environment: