Archive for September, 2013

Oval Crossing: Pedestrian or cyclist safety – praise TfL or condemn?

30 Sep

[Note: Original posting has been changed substantially to reflect additional information]

TfL signs have appeared around the Oval Crossing indicating that the guardrails are to be removed. Here is what TfL have to say on the matter I’m in two minds about this. Should we be praising TfL for removing street clutter and making us safer or should we be condemning whoever wasted money installing guardrails and putting us at risk in the first place?

Anyone who watches the before and after guard rail videos can be in no doubt as to what is good from a pedestrian point of view but is it safer? Like most people I tend to take statements from official sources on trust.  In this case we are being told that removing the guardrails will make us safer.  No one can argue with that so fair enough.  Or is it.  Pedestrian Guard Railing:A Review of Criteria for Installation (Transport Research group 2003) seems to present a slightly different picture

A few points in the report caught my attention:

* Traffic speed, traffic flow and pedestrian flow did not differ significantly between sites surveyed with and without guard railing
* The all accidents rate at sites without railing was almost the same as that at sites with railing the difference not being statistically significant.
* The pedestrian accident at sites without railing was 2.5 times that at sites with railing, and the difference is statistically significant.

The first point seems to contradict one of the claimed benefits for removing guardrails “More careful driving and slower speeds”.  The second and third points seem to suggest that removing guardrails shift accident risk from road users to pedestrians.

I welcome reduction in street clutter and changes that give greater priority to pedestrians. However, it does seem that in doing so we are placing pedestrians at greater risk. On a typical weekday, some 8,000 people come out of the Oval Station and even more on days when there are cricket matches at the Oval. I know this junction well both as a pedestrian, cyclist and motorist.  I don’t claim to be an expert on road safety but the exit from the station is disgorging people right on the corner.  The guard rails were put there in good faith.  When I first wrote this posting I felt that money had been wasted installing them in the first place. Having reviewed the evidence, I’m no longer sure.  Either money was wasted putting them in or money is about to be wasted taking them out and I don’t know which.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the Oval Crossing needs a lot more than removal of guardrails to make it safe.  Motor vehicle traffic in the area has decreased by 30% over the last 10 years or so.  In contrast, cyclists have increased four fold.  It is clearly time for a major change.  As a minimum, something further must be done to offset increased risks  to pedestrians once the guard rails are removed.   A 20MPH limit was mooted with TfL which would be compatible with Lambeth’s borough wide 20MPH limit. However, changing speed on local red route the corners/junctions does not appear very high on TfL’s agenda.  A change in surface on the pedestrian crossings may also help.  At the moment, the central reservation where the fountain is has almost become a virtual desert island.  The whole junction is well overdue for a major makeover.
Railings to be removed


Afternoon tea at Kennington Green

29 Sep

Kennington Green dates from around 1750 making it one of the oldest established green spaces in the neighbourhood. Today, some 30 local residents gathered at the green to share afternoon tea. Those attending included residents from nearby Kennington Park Estate demonstrating that the green is used by many local people not just those in the immediate vicinity.

Kennington Green is under threat from the Northern Line Extension (NLE) which will turn this much used green space into a building site for some three years – one less place for local children to play. Claims have been made that local residents support the NLE proposal or at least what happens afterwards but the view of those present was unanimously against the current proposal. Concern was also expressed at the adverse effect on local businesses. A local shop that was due to be leased out is now likely to remain vacant – The deal fell through as a direct result of the planned works at Kennington Green.

For the last few years I have been taking pictures in and around the neighbourhood. The following link shows those taken in and around Kennington Green Below are a few taken today.



Oval Station upgrade?

28 Sep

Last Friday some local business people and myself met with TfL to discuss the Northern Line Extension (NLE) which is expected to have a negative effect on some local businesses (particularly for the three years or so while the NLE tunnelling works are going on). The possibility of increasing the amount of commercial space at the Oval Station was raised as this could help make the area more attractive to shoppers. One possibility was to convert the lower area of the offices to the left of the station entrance (see picture below). There are no plans to do this at the moment but any developments which help increase foot fall in an area tend to help other local shops/businesses.

The Oval Station was partially upgraded in 2007/08. The upgrade did not include a much needed cash machine and local residents have to pay to withdraw their cash nearby. In contrast, St James Park Station (TfL/London Underground offices) has three cash machines. Although that station is busier, the Oval Station is sufficiently busy to merit at least one free withdrawal machine. The station currently has a small café, shoe repair shop and news vendor. However, the flower seller that had been a feature of the station for many years has now gone.

Oval Station and offices
The Oval Station opened in 1890. In 2012, there were 6.1 million entry and exits making it the 114th largest of 268 tube stations. On a typical weekday, some 10,000 passengers enter and 9,000 exit the station. No doubt there is some reason for the difference – perhaps people are more likely to leave the area by tube but use other means of transport to arrive. Those who use the station regularly will know about the ‘Oval Station thought for the day’ that appears on a notice board near the top of the escalators. If you don’t go to the station often then you can always try following them on twitter @Oval_Station to see what the latest thought is.


Spaghetti Squash

28 Sep

It’s always nice to see a new trader at the Oval Farmers’ Market and this one had sold out by lunchtime. I must admit to never having heard of “Spaghetti Squash” before. When this particular type of squash is cooked, the flesh forms strands a bit like spaghetti hence the name. One day I’ll have to get someone to explain to me the difference between a squash, gourd, pumpkin etc.

Spaghetti Squash


1 Lambeth High Street

27 Sep

1 Lambeth High St is a proposed mixed residential/commercial development on the site of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society headquarters building near Lambeth Bridge. It was nice to see the developers/architects consulting with the public before jumping straight to the planning application stage. Although it will be sad to lose the Royal Pharmaceutical society (it has been in the area since the 1970s) the proposed new building does seem to be an improvement on the previous one and has been sympathetically designed with The Museum of Garden/History and Lambeth Palace across the road in mind.

My only reservation about this project is that it contains ground floor commercial/retail space and it remains to be seen whether this will prove viable. At the moment, local foot fall/parking restrictions/traffic flow at this location will limit the types of shops/businesses that the development can support. The nearby Parliament View development has a ground floor commercial/retail unit which, I understand, has remained empty since it was first built despite being next to a bus stop. There would probably have to be some substantial changes to the street scape on Lambeth Road to help ensure that any new commercial/retail space has a chance of success.


Royal Pharmaceutical Society

21 Sep

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (founded 1841) has been at 1 Lambeth High Street since the 1970s.  It is opposite the Museum of Garden History near Lambeth Bridge. The site is to be redeveloped and the society will be moving elsewhere.