diamond geezer

 Wednesday, November 02, 2016

There's been a gyratory road system in Stratford for years. For 49 years, in fact, according to Newham Council.
The Stratford one-way traffic system was originally introduced in 1967 (along with the Bow flyover) to carry traffic from London to and from Essex (old A12). However with the completion of the 'East Cross Route' from Hackney to Blackwall (new A12) in 1973 it became partially obsolete. And it is now fully obsolete since the completion of the Woodford Bypass in 1992 which linked the A12 in Hackney to the M11.
And given that it's been 'fully obsolete' for half its life, it should be no surprise to hear that Newham are planning to get rid of it.
We are working with Transport for London to transform Stratford town centre. This will include introducing two-way traffic around the Stratford Centre, improving bus services, and providing better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

Phased construction to remove the gyratory will begin in summer 2017, we're told, and everything should be complete by spring 2019.
Our plans aim to encourage more people to visit the Broadway, High Street and Cultural Quarter and support our local businesses and cultural venues.
There are two Stratfords. This is an important plan to encourage footfall in the Stratford that isn't Westfield.
As part of the plans, we want to:
• introduce a two-way traffic ​system and road calming measures to reduce speeds
• create separate cycle tracks to encourage more people to cycle through Stratford
• widen the pedestrian crossing at Meridian Square and move other crossings to locations where pedestrians prefer to cross
• improve the appearance of streets by resurfacing pavements, removing old street furniture and introducing new landscaping
• enhance the public area near Theatre Square and St John’s Church.
So that'll be a big improvement then. Unless it won't be, or unless it mostly will be apart from some stupid bits which somehow nobody pointed out until it was too late and then everybody's stuck with them for another 49 years, which is why there's a public consultation on.

An official consultation leaflet has been produced, the second page of which is an extra-detailed map of what's planned. If you're local, or interested, you should download that and take a look. I'm going to present a much simplified version, to give you a high level indication of what's going on.

This is my schematic map of Stratford town centre as it today. For orientation purposes the bus station is on the left, Stratford station and the footbridge to Westfield are top left, the railway runs along the top, and north is in the top right hand corner.

At present a gyratory system operates around the shopping centre, cultural quarter and St John's church, with traffic running clockwise only. Many drivers are forced to drive much further they need to, and there is an island feel to the central shopping zone, surrounded by a unceasing swirl of traffic. But all that's planned to change, like so...

Under the new proposals the whole of the gyratory becomes two-way, which is good news for drivers, plus there'll be segregated cycle lanes almost all the way round. The existing roads are already wide enough to cope with this, so no dramatic demolition or expensive transformation is required, although there won't always be room for two lanes of traffic in both directions.

There is a catch, potentially an awkward one, which is that certain turns will be banned at a couple of junctions.

Bottom right, traffic heading east along the Broadway will only be allowed to carry straight on, towards the Romford Road. I don't understand why this is necessary - the official map shows no obvious physical obstacles - and this restriction instantly prevents the creation of a full two-way orbital system.

A more complicated set of restrictions will be applied bottom centre, with traffic entering from West Ham Lane only allowed to turn left, and anything heading east along the Broadway (that isn't a bus) prohibited from turning right into West Ham Lane. This is essentially exactly the same arrangement as today, with the addition of one eastbound lane on the Broadway... from which traffic will be forcibly funnelled off towards Romford, as discussed. I am sorely unconvinced that this is optimal.

And then there are the bus stops. Let's have a look at what Newham council have planned for these. The red dots are bus stops which are staying, the pink dots are bus stops which are being added, and the crosses are bus stops which are being removed.

The biggest difference is that bus services will now be able to go either way round what's currently the one-way system, so bus stops are needed on both sides of the road. This will help to make bus routes more consistent, as opposed to the mess a gyratory introduces whereby, for example, the 25 only stops at Stratford station going east and never west. TfL will be conducting a separate consultation in a year or two to work out where its buses go, we're told.

Notice the tweaks to the bus station. These include an additional bus stop on the opposite side of the road for buses travelling "anti-clockwise", current plans for which look like they'll seriously impede the flow of two-way traffic. Meanwhile a major change to the interior of the bus station is proposed - removing its 'loop' - with two new stops introduced on the far side, closer to the station. Sealing off the current entrance sliproad means that this can then be handed over to taxi drivers instead, creating a very convenient turnaround where they can collect and drop off fares.

Also note that two further bus stops are being removed. One is located by the church, outside Wetherspoons, along an anti clockwise bus lane which won't be needed any more so is being pedestrianised. And the other is outside the Old Town Hall, where a loading bay will be introduced instead, which seems unwise. Yes, there are two other westbound bus stops close by, but they'll not be as convenient, and this creates an even lengthier gap down Stratford High Street than exists today.

One other potentially awkward proposal is that coaches are to be ejected from central Stratford. Coaches to Stansted (or wherever) currently depart from just outside the station, or in the Broadway, but when the new road layout begins they'll be relocated to Montfichet Road in Stratford City instead. That's going to take longer to get to, because the roads round Westfield aren't exactly streamlined either, and be subject to serious disruption whenever there's a football match or major event in the Park nearby.

Now is the time for your voice to be heard, be you a resident, cyclist, passenger or occasional visitor, with a consultation period running up until 28th November. An online questionnaire is available, where you can make your opinions known, or several drop-in events have been organised where you can meet and grill the team responsible, the first of which takes place tonight. Over 99% of the people these plans will affect will never notice the consultation, let alone engage with it. For their benefit, and a generation yet to come, don't allow such a major change to slip though unscrutinised.

Consultation events
Stratford Library: Wednesdays 2nd and 16th November, 5pm - 7pm (today!)
Stratford Centre: Sundays 6th and 20th November, 12pm - 3pm
Forest Gate Library: Wednesday 9th November, 5pm - 7pm
Plaistow Library: Thursday 10th November, 5pm - 7pm

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