Last December  Living Streets (formerly the Pedestrian Association) conducted a series of walkabouts with local residents to pinpoint perceived problems with pedestrian movements in Sydenham Road. Some of these were easily identified by regular high street users – the dangerous crossing at Newlands Park with no pedestrian phase at the traffic lights, the unfriendly sheep pen type crossings above Newlands Park and at Mayow Road, the zebra crossing on the railway bridge.
In fact the only crossing agreed to work well is the one between the Post Office and Natwest bank, where pedestrians can cross safely in one go and drivers and pedestrians are mutually aware of each other.
Starting outside the Post Office, Living Streets opened our eyes to the amount of clutter along the pavement which impedes the views up and down the high street especially the Council’s own advertising pillars. There are railings, bollards, street lamps, telephone boxes, litter bins and other impedimenta scattered along the pavement to create chicanes for those on foot to negotiate. It was noted that many retailers who are licensed to trade outside their shops are trading beyond their permitted limits and also encroaching into pedestrian space. In short, the pavements of Sydenham Road are a mess and in need of urgent de-cluttering.
Other matters being considered are the siting of bus stops; are these in the best places and are others needed? What should happen at Cobbs Corner and to the roundabout? Photos taken in the 1960s show that it was not there, but three zebra crossings were! The ownership of Sydenham Station Approach, currently leased by Network Rail, could be taken over by Lewisham Council with urgent repairs to roadway and pavements. How much soft landscaping could be introduced along the high street to improve the overall ambience of the area?
Over the past couple of months other organisations have also been in the high street looking at the improvement of pedestrian flow. Space Syntax have been mapping how people actually use the high street, where they cross the road, which may indicate the need for better sites for crossings. Surveyors with tripods have also been seen checking the fall in levels between different parts of the high street and also mapping the road as it is currently.
The reports of Living Streets, Space Syntax and others are to be analysed together with the responses of local residents to Lewisham’s December questionnaire about how they see the best and worst of Sydenham Road. The draft report and the questionnaire results should be published about a week before the forums. A copy of these reports will be available at Sydenham Library, Kirkdale Bookshop and on the Consultation and Policy page of the council’s website.
The results will be discussed at two similar meetings on Thursday March 1 (7-9 pm) or on Saturday March 3 (2-4 pm) at the Naborhood Centre. At these forums the Design Team will be introduced and a discussion, using the collected data, will be held with residents about ways to improve Sydenham Road. The Design Team will then work up ideas for pedestrian improvements coming back to the local community for further consultation in early summer about what could be done to improve our high street environment.
Interesting times lie ahead!
New Year 2007