Southwark Council are consulting on changes to Rye Lane in Peckham. We have until 16th September to tell them to make sure it’s safe for cycling.
Link to consultation: https://consultations.southwark.gov.uk/environment-leisure/rye-lane-traffic/
What to do:
- Fill in the consultation and ask for Option B and in the comment box ask for all motor traffic to be removed.
- Share this blog and get friends and neighbours to respond to the consultation before the deadline of 16th September 2022.
Rye Lane (between Hanover Park and Copeland Road) was closed to buses, cars and other vehicles except bicycles on 6 July, 2020, to help people social distance safely when walking and queuing outside shops during the pandemic.
It’s worth remembering just how fantastic Rye Lane was during this time. Thousands more people were walking and cycling on Rye Lane than we’d ever seen before, including many more kids, parents, the sorts of people who we know don’t cycle enough. And we say many people with accessibility needs using the carriageway more; including people with mobility aids like scooters and walking sticks. Finally, mums with prams had room to manouever whereas before the narrow pavements made it incredibly hard to use a buggy on them. And of course, the air was noticeably cleaner without polluting buses.
On 18 October 2021, the road was reopened to buses, taxis and bicycles traveling in both directions for a trial period, under an 18-month experimental traffic order.
Since this time, the number of people walking and especially cycling on Rye Lane has seen a marked decline as people simply don’t feel safe sharing the road with any motor traffic, including buses.
As the trial has now been in place for nine months, the council is undertaking a public consultation on the measures to decide whether to keep or modify the arrangement.
Why Rye Lane is so important
Rye Lane is an incredible destination and a brilliant town centre for many people living in and traveling to Southwark.
From a cycling perspective, it is especially important. The reason for this is due to the odd street pattern in Southwark, Rye Lane is one of only two places in the entire borough that enable north-south cycling with a more or less direct crossing of Peckham Road. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of people cycling from destinations south of Peckham Road will want to cross at Rye Lane. In short, it is probably the single most important location in Southwark for developing a cycling network. The point can be understood by looking at Google Maps cycle layer and noticing the route from Surrey Canal to Peckham Rye through Rye Lane.
What is being proposed?
The council are proposing two options for Rye Lane between Hanover Park and Copeland Road
Option A – Buses, taxis, bicycles in both directions, which is the current situation.
Importantly, there is simply not enough space on the road to have 2-way motor traffic and safe space for cycling. Given these space constraints, this means people would have to cycle behind polluting buses, taxis and other vehicles, or in front of them (never a nice experience, especially with young kids).
Option B – Buses and taxis will travel one-way along Rye Lane with bicycles in both directions.
With one motor traffic lane removed, this would make space to cycle safely without coming into conflict with motor traffic.
Note on other possible options.
The council have said they won’t return it back fully to how it was during the pandemic, i.e. they don’t want to remove all motor traffic entirely. We think this is a mistake given how incredible it was for walking, cycling and hanging out. The council say this is in order to ensure people can access the station, but they haven’t given any data to enable an assessment of the nature of the problem and therefore work out what the most suitable compromise solution would be.
We think a third option could be preferable, namely having shuttle buses going up and down Rye Lane for people with accessibility needs. This is common in car free zones around the world. Slovenia has a particularly successful version. And of course, airports and train stations in the UK provide dedicated shuttles.
We’ve had people asking us for our recommended response to the consultation. Here’s our answer:
Question 3: Having considered the two options that we have presented above, as well as your access needs for Rye Lane, please let us know which option you would like us to take forward?
RECOMMENDED ANSWER: Choose Option B: One-way buses and two-way cycles
Question 4: If you have an alternative suggestion for the traffic arrangement on Rye Lane, please use the text box below
All traffic, except cycles, should be removed as it was during the pandemic. Zero emission shuttle buses should run for those who need assistance to get to the station.Example vehicles include https://www.epowertrucks.co.uk/product/ep-14-passenger-bus-multi-passenger-electric-vehicle/, https://extranet.who.int/agefriendlyworld/afp/electric-vehicles-cavalier-kavalir-in-the-city-of-ljubljana/
If buses are allowed, it is vital that they are not allowed to overtake each other, this would put cyclists in dangerous conflict with buses. Instead the two way cycle lane should be fully protected with no motor traffic allowed to enter this space at any time.
If buses are allowed, they should be limited in speed to 10MPH. TFL are introducing speed limiters on buses so this should be straightforward to implement.
Question 5. What could be done to make the walking experience on Rye Lane better? (leave blank if you have no view)
RECOMMENDED ANSWER: Choose dropdowns “Clearer pavements”; “Less street furniture”
Question 6. What could be done to make the cycling experience along Rye Lane better? (leave blank if you have no view)
RECOMMENDED ANSWER: The dropdown options aren’t very helpful here, so in the open comment box, write
“Install two way protected cycle tracks so cyclists separated from buses in both directions”
“Cycling should be two way, and buses one way. The cycling should be consolidated on one side of the carriageway, with bus stops on the other side, that would mean no conflict between cycling and buses pulling in or out at stops.”
Question 15: Concerning road safety, how safe do you feel on Rye Lane? For the first part “Currently – with buses, taxis and bicycles on the road”.
RECOMMENDED ANSWER: Choose “Very unsafe”
Question 15: Concerning road safety, how safe do you feel on Rye Lane? For the second part “”Last year – with only bicycles on the road
RECOMMENDED ANSWER: Choose “Very Safe”
Question 17: At the north end of Rye Lane between Peckham High Street and Hanover Place the buses run northwards and bicycles are in both directions. We are not planning to change this, but we would still like to know if you feel any improvements could be made…Please select what type of improvement(s) you would like to see from the list below (select as many as appropriate)
RECOMMENDED ANSWER: Remove buses from this section and make the road 2 way for cycling, and the rest of the street pedestrians only.
Explanation for this answer: Cycling in this section is currently very unpleasant. Going southbound is nasty because the contraflow cycle lane is narrow, and it is scary to cycle so close to oncoming buses, especially with people often walking across the path. A site visit there shows few people cycle here relative to the potential volumes of people wanting to use this route. Going northbound is frustrating as people cycling invariably get stuck behind the many buses stopped at bus stops, which then not only slows people down considerably but also leads to suffering from being exposed to a huge amount of pollution. Especially horrible when cycling with small kids. Overall, the space is simply too narrow to comfortably accommodate cycling and buses. The current situation is really poor and it needs improving. Given how busy an area this is for people walking and cycling, we recommend removing buses from this stretch to be the best option.
Question 18. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about in regard to Rye Lane in general?
RECOMMENDED ANSWER: Rye Lane is a hugely important part of the cycle network in Southwark. In order to create a step-change in the number of people cycling in the borough and beyond, please make cycling provision on Rye Lane sufficiently protected and safe so people of all ages and abilities feel able to cycle here. This means ensuring people cycling do not have to share the road with any motor traffic, including buses.
Take action today
Fill in the consultation before the 16th September deadline
Ask friends and family to fill it in too