In stages between May and August 2020, Croydon Council has implemented a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in parts of South Norwood and Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood wards. The boundaries of the LTN are: Church Road, South Norwood Hill, South Norwood High Street, the Crystal Palace-Norwood Junction railway line, and the boundary with Bromley Council, which runs along an ancient parish boundary (corresponding to no particular geographic features) between Church Road and the railway. This leaves a group of Bromley streets on the south west side of Anerley Hill affected, for better or worse, by the Croydon scheme, but not part of it.
Since the last step in Croydon’s implementation, at the beginning of August, when three Croydon streets running up to Church Road were closed to motor traffic, Bromley residents have expressed concern about diversion of traffic which would have used those streets previously into their area, and navigation apps directing traffic off Anerley Hill into their streets.
The purpose of the evidence-gathering summarised in this note, carried out by volunteers resident in both boroughs in the week beginning 14 September, was to test the extent and nature of traffic diversion. It is important to emphasise its limitations:
- It is simple pencil-and-paper recording of vehicle and other movements. There is no way of knowing the starting and finishing point of journeys or, usually, their purpose. Notably, we have no reliable way of distinguishing between resident access and deliveries, on the one hand, and through movements, on the other.
- Volunteers could not record vehicle speeds, though some impressions are included in this note.
- At this stage, counting has been focused on the streets which appear to be the main concern: Belvedere Road, the southern stretch of Cintra Park, Patterson Road and Milestone Road, which together form a route from the south into Church Road. No counting has been carried out on Hamlet Road and Waldegrave Road. This is because the unanimous view of the volunteer group, who observe these streets frequently, is that there has been much less traffic on the latter streets since the Croydon scheme took its final form. In particular, there are no longer the long queues eastbound on Hamlet Road which were frequent previously. But we would be open to carrying out counts there if others disagree with this assessment.
- While counting was carried out at a variety of times, it is not comprehensive. Subject to being able to mobilise sufficient volunteers, we could undertake further measurement if others think this would helpfully add to our understanding.
In addition to the traffic counts, a volunteer observed the routeing advice offered by navigation apps for driving between the Douglas Fir in Anerley Road and the White Hart in Church Road.
The table below records the locations, times, and results of the traffic counts.
The whole route up Belvedere Road to Church Road via Milestone Road is characterised by steep gradients, tights bends, and, mostly, cars parked both sides of the roads so opposing vehicles cannot pass each other. Compared with streets where there is more room for two-way traffic, this increases the risk that anything more than light traffic leads to congestion and confrontation. The speed limit on these streets is 30mph and there is no traffic calming. Conditions are not helped by a significant minority of drivers not driving to the conditions, at excessive speed, and failing to anticipate opposing traffic. Observers saw some instances of drivers having to correct failures of anticipation by reversing, and, on one occasion, a confrontation with horn use.
Traffic tends to move in bursts: several vehicles, then an interval with none.
During the observation in Milestone Road, queue length to turn on to Church Road never exceeded six vehicles. However, it was possible to see how the longer queues reported by residents could arise at times, a combination of a burst of vehicles coming up coinciding with worse than usual conditions on Church Road.
Navigation app observation
Most of the time, the app directed vehicles along the main roads. Around 8.15am, as wait times on Anerley Hill increased, it switched its preferred route to the back streets, for much, at least, of the next hour.
The screenshots below show Google at 0845 and 0920.
Traffic data and observations: key findings
The main findings are:
- There appears to be a morning peak between 8 and 9am, of around 250 vehicles in the hour, mostly uphill, taking the four observations together, though there clearly are significant upward spikes from time to time.
- It is highly likely that the reaction of navigation apps to congestion on Anerley Hill may contribute to the higher levels of traffic at this time. That said, observations at the Auckland Road junction suggest that around 40% of uphill movements originate from the south, not from Anerley Road.
- At other times, including the evening peak, it looks like the traffic does not exceed 100 vehicles an hour and is often significantly less.
- Many more vehicles drive uphill than downhill, especially in the morning peak. Cycle and pedestrian movements are more balanced.
- From the data collected, a guesstimate of vehicles per day would be 1,000-2,000, compared with over 6,000 a day in the Croydon streets further south before the LTN was implemented.
- At the morning peak, traffic levels are comparable, though somewhat lower, than those observed in Auckland Road and Sylvan Hill before the Croydon LTN was implemented. At other times, however, they are around 25% or less of those observed in the Croydon streets.
In addition to the volume of traffic at the morning peak, the recklessness and poor observation of some drivers adversely affects safety on these roads.
We would be willing in principle and subject to the availability of volunteers, to assist in further activity of this kind. We would be willing to work alongside residents of Bromley (both supporters or opponents of the LTN) so there can be mutual confidence in the accuracy of observations.