Have you heard? Transport for London (TfL) is proposing big changes to Tolworth Roundabout.
You may be forgiven for thinking that TfL and the Mayor of London are all about reducing motor traffic levels, improving air quality, promoting walking, cycling and use of public transport these days. Unfortunately you wouldn’t know it looking at the description and drawings of what’s proposed between Tolworth Broadway and Tolworth railway station.
TfL, after “working closely” with Kingston council, is planning to build an additional lane for motor traffic on the northbound approach to Tolworth Roundabout (i.e. for traffic coming from the direction of Epsom). This requires closing a pedestrian subway which some people prefer to the existing signal crossing, and the felling of a mature tree outside the Hollywood Bowl.
What are the reasons given for this scheme?
TfL say that if nothing is done to address the problem of traffic queues resulting from additional traffic then delays to buses will increase by up to 20 minutes in the peak. But why does TfL only mention buses in its consultation? Providing for private traffic doesn’t fit with TfL’s much publicised agenda, but that is in fact what it plans to do.
The consultation web page is very light on information so we requested more from TfL.
We asked TfL:
How much additional traffic is expected? Please provide information on how this “expected increase” has been arrived at and whether the figure and the predicted journey time saving would also apply to general traffic as well as buses.
Developments in the area are predicted to add 750 jobs and 1300 new homes within the next five years. This growth will result in an increase in up to 400 vehicle trips in both morning and evening peaks.
Applying these extra trips to our modelling software, it is estimated that there will be up to 5% traffic growth in the area. This accounts for the planned vehicle parking spaces and predicted servicing requirements.
This method of calculating future traffic increase is standard practise for developments in London. The Tolworth Roundabout scheme proposes to improve journey times for general traffic as well as for buses.
Due to committed developments at Tolworth, journey times are predicted to increase by 20 minutes, if we do nothing.
Our proposed scheme will provide significant improvements to the area and reduce the predicted increased journey times of 20 minutes by 11 minutes, resulting in a net increase of 9 minutes caused by developments.
So it looks like the plan is to provide space for the increased motor traffic rather than manage the demand?
It looks very much so. TfL are saying a 5% increase in motor traffic will result in increased delays of 20 minutes which can be managed down to an increase of 9 minutes. All the capacity for car parking at the new Lidl headquarters and on the Tolworth development site mean that the car has to be accommodated it seems. There are no plans for a bus lane or improved bus facilities or a continuous cycle route on the station side of the A240 Kingston Road.
No thought given to a continuous cycle route…
Disappointingly, and despite proposing to spend millions of pounds on this scheme, no thought has apparently been given to linking Tolworth Broadway to the new Lidl national HQ being built at Jubilee Way or to the proposed new cycle track on Jubilee Way itself, which would link Tolworth to Ewell and Chessington via an off-road track. Frustratingly, TfL appear to propose to do nothing about the “Cyclists Dismount” section in front of Tolworth railway station and under the railway bridge. There’s a two-way cycle track on the south side of the railway that was built in the 1930’s and it needs to be joined to the Tolworth Greenway with a continuous cycle path. TfL’s suggestion is that cyclists should cross the A240 twice, using the path on the opposite side from the station and Jubilee Way.
Read the consultation and provide your feedback here
TfL’s consultation page can be found here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/tolworth-roundabout/
The consultation closes on 5th January 2020. We invite you to tell TfL what you think the implications are of simply providing for more road traffic and ignoring cycle routes.
We’ll be strongly objecting to the proposals overall which will encourage motor traffic in the surrounding area. We will ask TfL instead to focus on improving public transport as well as walking and cycling routes. In particular, the short gap in the cycle track between Jubilee Way and Tolworth Station must be fixed.