Submission by Bromley Cyclists (London Cycling Campaign)

To: Croydon Council’s Consultation on the Crystal Palace and South Norwood
Low Traffic Neighbourhood Scheme

When we learned of the furore over this scheme on the Croydon/Bromley border, we sought to get to the bottom of it.  We talked to a range of players, opened a social media channel for discussion, studied the situation on the ground, and explored cycling links northward through Crystal Palace Park and southwards to Croydon. 

We find the scheme has considerable merit, and that it has created a quiet environment suitable for active travel by children and others in line with the Healthy Streets approach, and provided a vital link in a cycle route connecting Croydon to Crystal Palace, and thereon to Dulwich, central London and other locations.  We would therefore like to see Bromley and Croydon Council working together to develop and optimise this scheme. 

Bromley has been giving much consideration to transport links in its planning of Crystal Palace Park, and its Visitor Travel Plan of Jan 2020 places a strong emphasis on encouraging walking and cycling, alongside public transport. There has also been extensive consultation on the Council’s plans for improving the Park. 

Bromley is moreover active with Streetspace-funded walking and cycling improvements, and its submissions to TfL include several improvements in and around the Park.  The work on Crystal Palace Road and Thicket Road are very visible at present, and components of Bromley’s tranche 2 submissions would link Croydon’s LTN to the (Crystal Palace) Parade.  We particularly note these improvements:

  1. a cycle permeability measure to link Chipstead Close and Palace Road, which meets Anerley Hill opposite Crystal Palace Station road, which leads into the Park;
  2. a cycle crossing further up Anerley Hill, adjacent to a contraflow cycle lane in Cintra Park, and;
  3. opening up Old Cople Lane for cyclists and tarmacking a 3m wide path through the park where there is existing grass and loose gravel.

Bromley’s funding proformas are quite explicit in mentioning the linkage to South Norwood, which runs along Auckland Road in the middle of what is now the LTN, saying that:

This route will be useful for cyclists connecting Crystal Palace Station and South Norwood and those looking to use the park on their way to central London. This is an alternative and quieter route to using the busy steep section of Anerley Hill. It is hoped that the scheme will encourage more families, less confident, disabled and even non cyclists to choose cycling rather than other means of travel.

This shows that by creating the LTN, Croydon has helped create the sort of quiet and uncongested ideal cycling route that Bromley has in mind. 

It is a moot point as to whether the cycle crossing on Anerley Hill should be located by Cintra Park, or between Chipstead Close and Crystal Palace Station Road.  We think the latter should probably be prioritised, since it is a much better way of connecting to South Norwood.  Cycling via Cintra Park involves much steeper gradients than via Chipstead Close. We hope Bromley and Croydon Councils will jointly consider this matter if they have not already done so. 

Bromley’s funding proformas likewise state that by opening up Old Cople Lane and tarmacking a path through the Park, it would complete a cycling route northwards along Fountain Drive to Dulwich, making it a good route towards central London, and southwards to South Norwood.   

All this shows that Bromley and Croydon Councils have strong reasons to work together.  Their plans are complementary and, if coordinated, will create uncongested conditions for walking and cycling, and a quiet cycling route all the way from Croydon to Dulwich, avoiding the congestion on the Crystal Palace triangle and other traffic hotspots.  It therefore distresses us that there has been so little dialogue, and that Bromley has instead been supporting residents in legal action against Croydon.

We understand some of residents’ frustration with Croydon’s LTN and complaints about a lack of initial consultation.  Some businesses on the Crystal Palace triangle are also concerned that they might lose them custom, though many other walking and cycling schemes show net benefits to local business. Whatever the concerns, we do not think they justify the unreasonably confrontational posture that the Open our Roads campaign has adopted in its dealings with Croydon Council. 

The campaigners’ leading complaint has been, and remains, that the LTN has diverted traffic onto Bromley streets between Fox Hill and Anerley Hill, causing massive traffic jams during the morning rush hour.  At any time over the last three months, they could have addressed this problem by asking Bromley Council to create a resident-only filter for traffic using this diversion; but they chose not to pursue such simple and obvious solutions.  The problem has subsided following the removal of scaffolding and temporary traffic lights in Church Road, but it may reappear, in which case Bromley can install the filter.  

We also feel that Bromley Council has acted unwisely in adding its voice to this hard-line opposition.  Learning of residents’ concerns, it could have offered to create the filter and engaged Croydon in discussions as to how they could coordinate efforts and address any other issues.  Instead of this it is demanding that Croydon dismantle the entire LTN and encouraging the Open our Roads Campaign to take legal action.  

Government is funding LTNs and other active travel schemes based on guidance DfT issued in the wake of the Covid emergency.  Under such circumstances we would like Bromley and Croydon Council to engage with each other and plan for the long-term good of the community.  We do not want a zero-sum game at public expense.  

Bromley Cyclists

November 28, 2020

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