We talked about the possible part-pedestrianisation of the town centre just before Christmas, but Helen thought it would be worth having another discussion now that at least some of us have been able to look at the proposals in a bit more detail. If you didn’t make the blink-and-you’d-miss-it consultation, you can get the basics here.
Pedestrianisation is certainly no new thing – as this proposal from 1970 shows:
I did manage to get along to the consultation and, despite it being during the pre-Christmas hurly-burly, it appeared to be well attended (it also gave me the chance to have a poke around what turned out to be a very boring, corporate-looking Davenport House.)
I can’t help feeling that what it boils down to is whether or not you’re a driver living near or regularly passing through the giant one-way Ring of Doom proposed as an alternative to using the covered market as a roundabout. If you are, then you’ll probably be very grumpy about it all. If not, it might seem rather appealing.
There are two basic options proposed by the council, but from what I can tell, the council itself really doesn’t have any preferred ideas – they genuinely seemed to be asking for thoughts from the public when I was there. I’m guessing they fancy the idea in principle but don’t really know how to go about it.
Certainly Option One – which is where they would just close off College Approach and the north end of King William Walk but do absolutely nothing else – is clearly useless. Even the guys at the consultation openly admitted that it would create utter chaos.
Option Two and its variants – sundry versions of a large one-way ring road with bus/cycle possibilities – seems better. Nothing’s going to stop congestion (short, perhaps, of a Greenwich congestion charge, a whole other subject – or maybe not…)but it merely being a pain in the proverbial to get round the centre of Greenwich might make people who currently just rat-run between Deptford and the Blackwall Tunnel take a different route.
Andrew Gilligan’s not happy at all and he has some valid points. Certainly buses have a hard time of it under the current ideas – working through the plans so that buses would have a clearer passage seems like a good idea to me; even at the expense of some of the council’s ‘boulevard’ dreams. If your aim is get rid of cars by making it physically hard to drive round, it’s essential to make the buses – and cycle provisions – as attractive as possible instead. And yes – something would need to be done to prevent more rat-running between Circus Street /Royal Hill / King William Walk.
But I’m not sure I buy everything he’s saying. I don’t think that pedestrianisation would necessarily make Greenwich even bleaker than it already is late at night on weekends, for example. We can’t just count on cars as some kind of Darwinist method of getting rid of Saturday night drunks; separate measures (probably to do with licensing) need to be looked at to counter that particular problem.
I also can’t see people making the effort to rat-run through the park. Once you’re as far as the park on the A2, you might as well take the pain and finish the job across the heath.
I agree that congestion is an issue – as it is now. And yes – it might get worse. But it also might not. It could end up as no worse – or not much- worse, with a net gain. I’m not convinced I agree with him that “the status quo remains the least-worst option.” I’d like to learn what the results of the consultation come up with, and see some modelling done on the best suggestions.
What do you think?