In this blog Lambeth resident, Chrissy, tells us about her campaign to improve the walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure in Lambeth and what you can do to help.
Chrissy has lived in Brixton for over 50 years, she says:
“I arrived as a student in 1969 and I immediately felt at home. I live overlooking the junction of Kings Avenue, Acre Lane, Bedford Road and Clapham Park Road and have experienced the junction become an awkward, congested, polluted, dangerous crossroads for all who use it – pedestrians, cyclists, cars, heavy vehicles, buses.
“The Kings Avenue pavement narrows to 1.1m and the road is so constricted that large vehicles have to squeeze past each other. There’s no room for cyclists and little room on the pavement for pedestrians. For people with pushchairs, wheelchairs or mobility scooters it can be difficult and dangerous to navigate the narrow pavement. This is compounded by the morning and afternoon foot traffic from two primary schools and a sixth form college on Kings Avenue. Three bus routes turn in and out of Kings Avenue, often getting stuck on the junction and creating a tailback of vehicles that then complete the crossing when the traffic lights are red and the pedestrian signal is sounding. Imagine what that’s like for visually impaired people!”
Chrissy is right to highlight the accessibility issues here, pavements are supposed to be 2m wide for accessibility, or an absolute minimum of 1.5m, otherwise they are impassable for Disabled people. Chrissy also found that the air quality was badly affected in the area.
“Pollution levels at the junction are recorded higher than 58ug/m3, that makes them among the highest measured by the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory. We know that air pollution damages people’s health and children’s development. With the large number of residents and school children using this junction every day, the air quality is a huge concern.”
However, Chrissy has found a solution:
“Behind blue hoarding on the corner of Kings Avenue and Acre Lane, The National Grid are installing a tunnel around 30 metres below ground to modernise our electricity supply. Tunnelling work is now complete and the surface work is about to begin. If the National Grid made a strip of their site available to Lambeth to widen Kings Avenue just a bit, just enough to make the pavements safe, establish cycle lanes and reduce pollution, this could transform the area.”
So, Chrissy began measuring, researching and drawing up an outline proposal with maps and overlays and she reached out to the local community for advice and support.
“Friends and neighbours are contributing skills and experience which has given me confidence to submit the proposal to Lambeth Council and the National Grid. The proposal argues that we use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the junction safer and cleaner for everyone. We should use a strip along the length of the site to widen the pavements and create safe cycle lanes on both sides, with a communal planted area facing Acre Lane to help reduce the pollution levels.”
Chrissy is delighted to report that “Support and encouragement is coming from all directions, friends, neighbours, traders, councillors, community organisations.” She feels that “Our community is closer. I’m making new friends and learning a lot” and she is determined that “We can make a difference.”
Chrissy and her team have created an online petition on the Lambeth Council website to gather supporters and add weight to the proposal. They need 1,000 signatures by the end of August. WfW staff have already signed and if you live, work or study in Lambeth you can sign the petition following this link: https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=561. Or, if you’d rather sign the old-school way, there’s also a paper petition available, email email@example.com for information.
Let’s all get behind this plan to improve walking, wheeling, cycling and air quality in Lambeth and to ensure that Chrissy’s determination to make a difference becomes a reality.