Major improvement at dangerous junction on Lavender Hill

Author: Cyril Richert

Existing segregated cycle lane on Lavender Hill

Following the tragic death of a cyclist more than four years ago, Transport for London is (eventually!) making some changes to the junction of Lavender Hill and Elspeth Road/Latchmere Road, in order to improve safety and reduce danger for cyclists.

In November 2020, local residents and businesses  received a letter providing  details of how this busy junction will be reconfigured. A number of changes are highlighted in the letter:

  • Provide cycle segregation for cycles in the eastern arm of Lavender Hill with associated two-stage right turn for cycles from the eastern arm of Lavender Hill.
  • Ban the left turn (except cycles) from the eastern arm of Lavender Hill into Elspeth Road – replacing the dedicated left-turn lane with a footway build-out and green infrastructure, shortening two pedestrian crossings.
  • Reduce ‘ahead’ lanes from two to one in the eastern and western arms of Lavender Hill to remove merging on exit from the junction.
  • Widening of all pedestrian crossings.
  • Early release signal priority for cycles on all arms.
  • Relocate a loading bay to remove a pinch point for cyclists in the western arm of Lavender Hill.
  • Provide 20mph speed limit along Elspeth Road including the Lavender Hill/Latchmere Road / Elspeth Road junction.

Click to see a larger image

A fatal accident, due to a pothole and a badly designed junction

Lucia Ciccioli, was cycling to work during the morning rush hour (around 8am), when she was killed on 24 October 2016 by a lorry. The inquest in January was told that both had been heading west on Lavender Hill, towards Clapham Junction station (source Evening Standard). According to the coroner’s report, she “travelled over a dip in the road where it appeared as if a pothole had not been repaired which caused her to lose her balance and fall and collide” in front of an articulated lorry, which did not see her and eventually stopped 200 meters further on, in front of Asda.

The coroner warned more will die without urgent repair at the junction as he highlighted a catalogue of concerns with the junction’s layout:

  • The cycle lane leading up to the lights was inadequate.
  • There is an inadequate protection generally for cyclists riding towards the junction particularly those who want to go straight head or turn right, especially as there is a yellow box junction positioned in the middle of the junction – in which they could not legally stop.
  • Further cause for concern was a pothole in the road in Lavender Hill which is dangerous and is in need of urgent repair.

The 32-year-old waitress was the 7th person to die while cycling in London in 2016, the sixth in a road collision and the second involving a HGV. In comparison, five people died on bikes in 2019, down from 12 in 2018

The Council rejects fault on TfL but forget that Lavender Hill is their responsibility

Wandsworth council claimed that the junction was TfL’s responsibility as Elspeth Road and Latchmere Road were part of the “Red Routes” strategic road network.

However, while indeed Elspeth Road and Latchmere Road are managed directly by TfL (see TfL road network), the Council is the highway authority for Lavender Hill itself (TfL is working with the Council on this proposal, as they specify in their consultation letter).

And not only potholes but segregated cycle lanes, pedestrian crossing ad low traffic should be assured. However, in September 2020, the Wandsworth Council decided to scrap their traffic reduction scheme.

We talked to TfL on Tuesday 12th January, and they confirmed that – while speed limit and left turn ban may be their responsibility – they provide funding for London borough for them to decide what improvement they choose to implement. Wandsworth Council is therefore responsible for the decisions to create segregated cycle lanes on Lavender Hill for example, and does not need to wait for a fatality to occur or TfL to do it. Information about the funding for the borough is provided on a dedicated TfL page, and as of 15 July 2020, Wandsworth has already received more than £1m to implement 29 schemes.

Good previous streetscape improvements in Clapham Junction…

Clapham Junction streetscape has seen a lot of improvement in the past 10 years, with the Exemplar scheme: removal of pedestrian guardrailing, introduction of diagonal crossing at main crossroads and removal of slip road onto Lavender Hill associated with creation of small public space.

Those changes are cited as an example of good practice in a report from the London Assembly Transport Committee

Recently, with Covid-19 encouraging people to avoid public transports, cycling has increased and a dedicated cycle lane has been added to Lavender Hill (our front picture), as reported by LavenderHillForMe.

… but more need to be done

Bill Hicks, a cyclist passing through Clapham Junction every day, wrote about the tragic event on her blog:

“The only thing we can try to do is to try to convert this tragedy into an energy to change things, to make such tragedies less frequent in future.”

We hope that we will never see such accident again in Elspeth/Lavender Hill Junction. However, they are several other junctions that could be improved, both for cyclists and pedestrians in Lavender Hill, and we could mention the crossing on Falcon Lane leading to Asda, from Pizza Express, when cars are often turning at speed coming from Lavender Hill or Lavender Sweep.

This is the responsibility of Wandsworth Council, which can use funding (and expertise) from TfL on request.

Subject to Traffic Order being made, they plan to start works at Lavender Hill/Elspeth Road/Latchmere Road’s junction around February 2021 for a period of 14 weeks.

Although a belated response, CJAG supports the proposal which should improve safety for all on this major corridor.

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