On Wednesday, several months after the Government announced funding, Bromley Council finally published their planned application for funding from Transport for London for grants to implement social distancing and the first stages of plans to improve travelling in light of the impact of COVID19, including the severe reduction in the number of people able to travel by public transport.
You can read the full report with the plans here.
They will be considered at a special virtual meeting of the Environment Committee on Monday (one of the few committee meetings currently taking place, since Bromley Council introduced emergency measures including giving the Council Leader Colin Smith significantly more ability to make decisions himself and cancelling most scrutiny committee meetings for the foreseeable future.
Given the importance of these changes to enable local residents to travel to work, school, across Penge and around London safely, (needed, as both the Government and Mayor Sadiq Khan have stressed to ensure walking and cycling can be encouraged rather than significant increases in the number of cars clogging our roads and as part of a green recovery) we are severely disappointed that Bromley chose not to offer any public consultation. (unlike other boroughs, who have actively engaged with their community and invited people to submit ideas to them) while we appreciate the urgency of needing to apply for funding and the work council staff have done- having just two days to review and comment on the plans gave us very little time to communicate and consult Penge and Cator residents on their needs and we will continue to engage with residents to ensure your views and ideas are fed into the Council’s officers.
The changes currently planned include signage for social distancing on the high street and some pavement widening in specific nearby areas, as well as temporary road closures ‘school streets’ and a zebra crossing near some (but for some reason not all) of our local schools. They also include progressing the cycle route from Kent House station to Greenwich and extending this with a cycle lane to Clock House station.
We support the proposals but feel strongly they do not go nearly far enough, we have been assured these are the first grants that will be applied for and future opportunities for schemes will still be available- but are frustrated that so far Bromley has not committed any of it’s own funding towards supporting active travel and social distancing schemes, which will not only help our local businesses but also enable residents to travel safely for work, school and to visit families when lock-down restrictions are lifted further.
We submitted our initial comments on Friday to ensure they could be considered in time, incorporating proposals from many residents who contacted us with ideas. Below is the submission we submitted- which we have continued to develop and add through consultation from local businesses, community groups and residents. We will be asking council officers for the opportunity to discuss plans with highways engineers and aim to keep residents updated, and consulted as far as possible, on future changes.
Penge and Cator Councillors’ Response to Funding Submission for
Highway Measures to Support Social Distancing During Recovery from
Given the incredibly short amount of time between the publication of this
report and the PDS meeting on Monday, we have been unable to fully discuss
and consult our residents on the plans- while we appreciate the urgency and
efforts of council staff to put together these plans, we are disappointed that
the report could not be provided with more notice, or engagement started
earlier in the process, to allow us as ward Councillors and our residents to
engage on them.
We ask that for future plans, to the fullest extent possible both we and local
residents can be consulted at a much earlier stage in the process and that
there is a much greater ability for residents to provide ideas and comments on
plans before they are finalised. (As other London boroughs have introduced)
Within the two days we have been given to comment, we have collated
proposals from residents we have received and our initial thoughts to provide
as an input and response to the report- including some which we have
previously submitted to officers and the portfolio-holder but which have not
been included in the plans. We hope this can be considered and either added
where possible to these or future funding plans, or for officers to engage with
us to discuss the reasons why they are not possible.
Accessibility issues for disabled/ frail residents
We are concerned that the plans as currently drafted include minimal
reference to the needs of disabled residents and those who by virtue of age,
impairment or other challenges are less mobile or able to travel than other
residents- particularly in the light of the removal of access to the freedom pass
use during peak hours which the Government required Transport for London
to implement, and the reduction in capacity for public transport. We also have
concerns that in light of the increased incidence of mental health issues
caused by the lockdown, conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain and mobility
issues which have been caused or worsened will create additional barriers for
some residents to be able to, or feeling unable to, walk or cycle locally, and
that these concerns have not yet been considered in plans being made, we
ask that thought is given to what schemes can be introduced to provide for the
needs of these residents.
We would urge that local groups such as Xperts by Xperience, Age Concern,
Bromley Mental Health Forum, Health Watch Bromley and other forums are
engaged to facilitate consultation with residents who may face these
additional barriers and the result be fed into future plans.
Lack of Equality Impact assessment
Particularly in light of the Public Health England research confirming that both
deprivation and ethnicity are factors indicating higher risk of infection and
death as a result of Coronavirus, we are concerned that no equality impact
assessment has been carried out to consider how these proposals may have
greater impacts on certain groups- particularly given the findings that BAME
residents, particularly Black residents, those from Bangladeshi, Chinese,
Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black ethnicity had
between 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to white British
people, and additionally that mortality rates in the most deprived areas are
much higher than in the least deprived.
We would strongly urge that an equality impact assessment of the effects of travel changes and social distancing needs is carried out urgently and plans
made to address the increased risk for residents (in our ward and across the
borough) that the higher risk in more deprived areas are taken account into
plans and addressing these inequalities is made a priority, to ensure those
most at risk are able to travel safely and that social distancing can be
maintained, focusing as a priority on areas where greater numbers of
residents are at higher risk. We would also ask that greater effort is made to
engage and consult with residents of demographic and in areas which are at
greater risk to ensure measures implemented address this need and
introduce specific schemes and support..
Pop-up cycle lanes
We support plans for Installing ‘pop-up’ cycle facilities with a minimum level of
physical separation from volume traffic, additional cycle parking at stations
and expansion of bike hire schemes and would ask wider implementation is
consulted on for our ward and across Bromley.
For Penge and Cator we would suggest such measures would be particularly
useful on Penge High Street (especially the pinch point at the Railway
bridge) and for residents to be consulted on how cycle routes can link
residential areas with the high street, green spaces and enable people to
travel for shopping and other trips safely, we ask that options to implement
cycle access between Penge and nearby locations such as Crystal Palace
Park and Beckenham, as well as facilitating cycle access to Sydenham and
further spaces in cooperation with Lewisham and other boroughs. We would
ask for public consultation as far in advance as possible, so that cycle routes
and infrastructure can be suggested by residents for their roads.
Penge High Street
In addition to the proposed signage which we agree is essential, we would
ask for additional measures such as cones and barriers and widening
footways along lengths of road, particularly outside shops and to provide more
space at bus stops along the high street (and also the stops on Croydon road
near the High street) to allow people to queue and socially distance.
We consider additional widening of all pedestrian refuges and crossings (both
formal and informal) both on the high street and nearby roads. We believe
such changes are required to enable people to cross roads safely and to
maintain social distancing.
We would ask that through the Penge BID, local businesses on the high street
are consulted on additional measures, including removing parking spaces
and/or widening pavements where possible outside cafes and other
eateries/premises serving food and drink, to allow outdoor seating and/or
customers to queue safely. We understand the need to balance the need for
drivers to be able continue to access high street shops for those unable to
walk/ travel by other means, but are keen to ensure residents can walk and
cycle safely to ensure they can continue to access the high street and take
steps to encourage local journeys to be made on foot or bicycle wherever
possible to ensure as many people as possible can safely continue to travel to
and through the high street.
The area outside Penge McDonalds (with other takeaway chains also nearby)
is a particular concern given the large number of delivery drivers we expect to
continue and increase, and difficulties this presents with social distancing- we
would ask council officers to work with Terry Eagle to look at solutions for
routing this traffic away from pedestrian spaces/areas.
We strongly support the introduction of school streets proposed- areas around
schools where motor traffic is restricted at pick-up and drop-off times, during
term-time- already proposed on Oakfield Road (Harris Crystal Palace) and
Maple Road (St John’s)- we consider this is also needed for Genoa road (for
St Anthony’s) and we have received requests from the priest of St Anthony’s
for this to be done.
We support the introduction of a Zebra crossing for Alexandra infants, but
believe further measures such as pavement widening and introduction of
additional crossings may also be needed for nearby roads and more generally
on roads around some schools, we ask officers to consult with all schools in
the ward and for other measures requested by the school be treated as a
priority for future plans and implementation.
Harris Bromley/Aldersmead road
Harris Bromley (secondary) is not currently included on the list regarding
measures around schools- we appreciate the school has not yet reopened for
most students but with the government plans for year 10 and 12 students to
beginning have face to face contact will soon be in some form, and clearly
looking ahead to the future when school re-openings progress further after the
summer we believe there is an urgency to putting changes in place for
students to be able to return.
Based on information provided by local residents in the school’s travel plan,
somewhere between 71% (Travel Plan 2017) and 50% (Travel Plan 2019)
take trains, trams and/or buses to this school. Come September, with car
sharing advised against, and reduced public transport services, that could
mean dozens if not hundreds of extra cars (most recent school roll 855).
There are temporary “school streets” elsewhere and we believe there is an exceptionally strong case to be put in place here. Parents coming from far off could use the 3 local stations to drop off girls – Lower Sydenham, Kent House, New Beckenham – while those that live near would be incentivised to walk, and given the larger numbers of students compared to primary schools there will be a greater need for space to enable social distancing for these students.
Kings Hall Road/ Quietway
We note that plans were already included as part of the quietway scheme, but
that we have not received updates on the progress of this scheme for some
time, we believe is reference has been made in the plans, but wrongly
labelled as being within Copers Cope ward and would ask for clarification to
confirm the quiet way and linked plans for Kings Hall and nearby roads will
continue. Furthermore in light of the changed circumstances referred to above
we would suggest the need for additional crossings on Kings Hall Road and
the implementation closures for ‘school streets’ to operate, alongside the
changes being proposed for the quietway, and would regard these as
necessary to be implemented with as little further delay as possible and by
September at the very latest if this is when schools are anticipated to open for
larger numbers of students.
Given the introduction of a partial road closure on Maple Road as a school
street (which we support), we would ask that local residents and businesses
are consulted on pedestrianizing the section of Maple road between the
corner of Blenheim Road and the corner of Franklin Road, this would allow
the cafes and restaurants in this section to provide service to tables and
chairs outside on the pavement and support these businesses, while allowing
drivers to continue to access the Blenheim centre via Blenheim road. No bus
routes utilise this section of the road and given the closure will be required for
the school, while also assisting social distancing for parents dropping off and
picking up children.
We request that Bromley council rapidly trials (we understand proposals were
being discussed last year and so these should be at an advanced stage now)
possible methods of introducing “play streets” – free road closures to allow
children to play on the street, to reduce overcrowding in other areas and to
support play close to home. We are aware of a number of streets in the ward
where there has already been interest in trying play streets and would be
happy to work with officers and residents to support such a trial over the
We also consider the concept could be further widened to a ‘community
streets’ offering- a streamlined process for temporary road closures to allow
residents to use the street for socially distanced gatherings and to interact
with their neighbours safely- we consider this could have particular benefit for
isolated residents and could contribute to address mental health and other
issues being created and worsened by loneliness and isolation.
20mph speed limits
In many other boroughs 20mph speed limits are being more widely adopted
as an appropriate speed limit for residential roads, and many through streets
in built-up areas. While 20mph limits alone will not be sufficient to meet the
needs of active travel, in association with other measures such as those
described we believe that reducing the speed limit will be an important part of
creating a greater sense of safety for cyclists and pedestrians and providing a
more attractive and safer environment to enable active travel. We consider a
consultation process should allow residents wishing for the limit on their street
to be lowered to confirm support among residents and input into the decision
making process for reducing the limit.
Road closure consultations
There are a number of residential roads where pavements are not wide
enough for social distancing to be possible and residents are reporting high
levels of speeding or otherwise dangerous behaviour from drivers- we
consider modal filters should be considered to close or restrict roads to motor
traffic in areas where residents express support for doing so, for example by
using planters or large barriers.
Cycle parking facilities
We would ask that plans include providing additional cycle parking facilities at
key locations, including the high street, nearby to Penge recreation ground,
Royston Fields/Sainsburys, other supermarkets and other green spaces, and
outside Penge East, Penge West, Kent House and Anerley stations should be
implemented to accommodate the expected increase in cycling- we
appreciate this may include a need to include repurposing parking bays to
accommodate cycle racks.and would ask for assurances affected residents
will be consulted as far as possible in considering these changes.
Station entrances and exits
We would support and encourage council officers to engage with Transport
for London and National Rail to attempt to widen and install additional
entrances/exits to stations- this is particularly needed at Penge West since
only one platform currently has access, with the other only accessible by a
Kent House Station
We see that a cycle lane between Clock House and Kent House stations is
included in the plans, which we support, but would ask for further
consideration be given to measures on Plawsfield Land- we would ask that
pavement widening with cones/barriers is included to provide adequate for
pedestrians alongside the cycle lane.
We would also ask for a consultation of residents on whether closure of all or
part of the road should be considered to stop the cars reversing into cyclists
and pedestrians. As previously suggested, we particularly consider the
section of the road immediately outside the station on the Plawsfield road side creates huge challenges, particularly with cars driving to drop off/pick up from
the station, and how this area could safely manage cars, cyclists and
pedestrians entering/ exiting the station.
Additionally, with the Kent House café now operating with a stall outside, we
consider it would support the local business and provide added benefit to
residents if the area of road were closed and pedestrianised, to allow tables
and chairs (with social distancing measures implemented) allowing customers
and passers-by to use part of this outdoor area safely.
In addition to addressing the concerns of residents on Aldersmead Road, we
consider there also needs to be pavement widening on Parish Lane and on
Penge Lane with the narrow pavements there. Drivers are tempted to
accelerate and pass riders where there is insufficient room on Parish Lane (by
the Drum) and on Kings Hall Road between the mini roundabout and Kent
House station. This is particularly important given the route is used for parents
of primary school and nursery aged children who need to use this stretch of
road (Kings Hall) with very young children for school drop offs/pick up.
Safe crossing and refuges
We ask that across the ward crossing points are reviewed and widened where
needed to accommodate social distancing and increased cycle traffic, we also
ask widening of traffic island/ refuges be implemented where possible
(particularly the refuge on the junction of Penge Lane and Parrish Lane) we
would also ask for the introduction of a refuge on the junction of Parrish Lane
and Lennard Road, this is an area residents have consistently raised as a
dangerous crossing place.
We would ask officers to look into the possibility of Bromley collaborating with
Lewisham to introduce a temporary crossing point on Southend Lane heading
towards Lewisham be considered? it's on the Waterlink way, a National Cycle
Route and school children could also use the route coming from Catford by
train could cycle (20 minutes) along here but this crossing makes it unsafe.
There are initial thoughts, prepared quickly to ensure they could be provided
in the timeframe you required. We will continue to engage with our residents
and anticipate further ideas and plans for specific streets and areas of Penge
and Cator, to encourage active travel and enabling social distancing, will
develop- we therefore ask that you provide us with clear details on how
residents and we as ward councillors can most effectively feed these in to
future plans and grant applications.
Cllr Kathy Bance
Cllr Kevin Brooks
Cllr Simon Jeal
Penge and Cator ward