Brockley Road: Rail against the machine

As we have written many times before, Brockley Central believes decluttering our streets is a key part of restoring their charm and character. And as we wrote here we believe there is a strong argument that Brockley Road's railings should be removed entirely - following the successful lead shown by boroughs like Hackney and Kensington & Chelsea.

We followed up on this issue with Cllr Alexander, who - together with BrocSoc and Brockley Cross Action Group - we dragged around Brockley Cross in the summer.

Here's what she said:

On the railings on Brockley Road, I've asked Highways Officers to draw up a list of barriers where we may be able to remove them without negative safety implications.

I was talking about pedestrian guard railings again today (for the third time this week in fact). I am becoming more and more determined to get rid of some of the unnecessary "stuff" that clutters up our street (especially the stuff where its purpose and function is less than clear!).

I met someone today that did a lot of the work in Hackney (a guy called John Dale from Urban Initiatives). He's promised to send me some information about the Mare Street initiative which might help me in my future discussions with officers on the subject. He says that there have been some really impressive results.

I'll also find out where we have got to on the Coulgate St parking issues and the possibility of removing that odd parking space near Brockley Cross.

We appreciate that not everyone who responded to our original article was convinced that removing the railings was a good idea, but if the evidence supports their removal, then we hope that will reassure people.

38 comments:

The Cat Man said...

I worry about the removal of the railings. I do think it is a good idea to investigate but my presumption is that Brockley road will continue and get even more busier in terms of traffic, being the main throughfare through Brockley.

For that reason, I cannot see the immediate benefit of having no railings - I can't really see it improving the street scapre much unless it is replace with something like trees in fancy raiings?

How about we campaign to paint the existing railings?

Brockley Nick said...

The point is that the rails do not do the job they were designed to do. They don't protect people, they make things worse.

They are undoubtedly ugly, bent out of shape, pulling up the kerbstones.

The other point is that we will hopefully soon have evidence on which to base this discussion.

Anonymous said...

If the road gets busier, the traffic gets slower, even less need for railings I'd have thought.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. A busy road isn't always a dangerous one.

Anonymous said...

I worry about this too. I admit the railings don't look great but I can't see how they're failing to do their job. If a car was veering towards the pavement with me on it I'd rather have the railings there than not there. I'd be interested to know when the last time a pedestrian was hurt along the railed stretch. Part of of my worry is that should the railings be taken down and somebody gets killed,(coincidentally or not) people may look come to view your good intentioned idea as meddling.

Could they be replaced by pillars?

Richard Elliot said...

Away with the barriers!!!

I don't think they have a dubious effect safety wise and removing the clutter from our streets will be a big step forward in restoring Brockley to its former glory.

Anonymous said...

yes but we no longer have horse and carts...
removel of the railing in this day and age with drunk/under age drivers is the worst idea Nick has ever come up with!!!

Monkeyboy said...

Someone correct me, I don't believe the barriers are to prevent errant drivers mounting the pavement. They're far too flimsy, are only on one side of the road and if that's what they're for why do we not see them on faster stretches? The intention (supposedly) is that they encourage people to use the pedestrian crossing or perhaps discourage cars from parking illegally?

Either way I doubt they have a significant effect on safety - bin the barriers.

Nina said...

If we need barriers to protect us from cars mounting the pavement then why do they only exist in specific places? They're there to stop people crossing the road before the crossings but that only tempts people to do the same thing slightly further up the road.

Honestly barriers strike me as an archaic form of crowd control and they don't exist in any areas that have been redeveloped this decade.

Richard said...

How many times have you nipped around/jumped over barriers to get across a road without using the proper crossing? I don't imagine railings have any significant effect on safety - they rely on us behaving safely & sensibly, which if we all did would negate the need for barriers in the first place.

I forget where (Holland?), but a few years ago a certain area did away with all street clutter (barriers, road markings, even pavements - replaced with trees etc), the idea being that drivers & pedestrians would be more aware of another & so respect each other's presence. I don't know how successful this was in the long run, and I think it involved a 20mph limit, but I like the thinking behind it.

osh said...

What were the other bad ideas anon?

jon s said...

Speaking of Holland, if we must have barriers for some bizare pseudo-safety reason, why not the steel cable types they use? Far less intrusive!!

Anonymous said...

Think outside the box, why not adopt Hollands liberal approach to cannabis. Everyone know that if you get run over when stoned it hardly hurts.

Headhunter said...

I agree, the barriers are ugly, if we have to have them, they should be replaced. I find them completely unnecessary anyway, as MB pointed out, surely they are there to corall pedestrians rather than prevent cars mounting the pavement and personally I either run across the road before getting to them, or walk on the roadway side of them with one foot on the road itself until the road is clear. I resent the council assuming we are too stupid to cross the road without being fenced in and pushed towards a pedestrian crossing

nobbly brick said...

the council always assumes we are stupid and need protecting, indeed, it may ask you *what* you want but then go and do what it *thinks* you need.

This attitude purveys their whole system

Anonymous said...

Most people in Lewisham are stupid. If you don't believe me stand in the Lewisham shopping centre for 5 minutes and look at the freak show unfold before your eyes.

Anonymous said...

And you are stupid if you judge people by standing in a shopping centre gawping at them.

Anonymous said...

...and I live in Lewisham. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Headhunter said...

I admit that there are plenty of stupid people out there who do cross roads without looking, as a cyclist I have run into/clipped a few of them as they step off the curb without even a glance.

However one stretch of fencing is hardly going to significantly reduce the problem surely? In any case it's natural selection, remove the fencing and allow cars to take their toll from the stupid sections of Lewisham society who don't look where they're going...

Anonymous said...

They'll sue...or be on disability benefits.

Headhunter said...

And just to rant a bit more, does anyone find most pelican crossings a complete waste of time? You walk up to them, press the button and wait whilst traffic piles through, and wait, and wait, and eventually you get bored of waiting, take your life into your hands and dash between the traffic. Then usually, after you have walked halfway down the other side of the road the traffic clears and the lights change and the green man lights up about 10 mins after you pressed the button. I don't need a little illuminated green man to tell me when to cross the road when the traffic has gone anyway!

13:24 said...

You would do if you were German. Just thought I'd throw that in.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder if pressing the buttom influences the duration you wait for the green man to arrive. Obviously on a crossing that traffic just runs through then it will make the green man appear, but on a junction such as the ones between the Esso garage, the dry cleaners and the Idy Amin pharmacy, does it make any difference?

fabhat said...

The crossings on Lewisham way, either side of Lewisham College are a marvel for pedestrians. Press the button, light goes red almost immediately, even if it was pressed only a moment before. I guess it's to stop the impatient youthful students getting squished on a regular basis, but it works for me, as I am generally running late for a train when I use if, and every valuable second counts!

Bea said...

The fancy new crossing at the Barge (with some kind of radio technology) is surprisingly quick to change too and gives you as much time as you need to cross. As my foot hits the opposite pavement I hear cars revving up to go but they end up waiting a while longer (until I am well a truly across) before the amber lights starts flashing! Love it - wish they were all like that.

Interesting to note that the barriers are only one side of this crossing (from Cranfield Road to opposite the post office) and not on the other side where the Barge is. Why is it appropriate for the wider pavement to have barriers but not appropriate for the narrower side? (Possibly the buss stop but that is a little way up the road).

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that if you remove the barriers cars will chose to park there more frequently (some do so already) effectively creating a barrier from passing traffic as they do all the way up Cranfield Road.

Headhunter said...

Yeah you would have thought that p*ssheads stumbling out of the barge would need more protection than people on the other side of the road, so perhaps the barriers were after all originally intended to prevent parking rather than coral pedestrians...

jpm said...

Down with the railings! reclaim the streets!

Paddyom said...

Those railings are horrendous looking things. I hope they are removed we not longer live in the seventies.... Give me trees or nice traditional black cast iron bollards any day.

nobbly brick said...

is it too cynical to think that a scenario like this unfolds:

HA talks to John Dale from Urban Initiatives, he says what a jolly good job they've done in other boroughs providing 'regeneration'.

HA thinks "what a jolly good idea, I'll give them £XX,000 to do a study on Brockley Road".

A year later and after £XX,000 has been spent on a standard report that could (and probably has been) written about every other 'unregenerated' high street in the country the railings are removed and nothing else happens.

Outcome: railings are removed at a cost of a couple of hundred pounds, quasi developers bank balance is swollen by£XX,000.

Further outcome: brockleyites feel slightly shafted.

Council response: Well, this is what you wanted wasn't it??

Paddyom said...

To hell with policies. Screw the stupid 'reports' and just rip the blasted things down. They are rank and everyone who visits the area will tell you that.

jpm said...

Down with the railings!

Anonymous said...

Let's just cool it a bit. We don't want people indulging in vigilante action as per those 'they want your pod' signs.

Anonymous said...

"They want your organic fairtrade vegetarian seeded bap"?

Anonymous said...

YES GET THE RAILINGS DOWN,
THEN I CAN PARK UP OUTSIDE THE SHOPS MUCH BETTER!!!!!
THAN HAVING TO WALK DOWN THE ST THROUGH LACK OF PARKING SPACE!!
WHY HAVE A CAR AND WALK?
GET RID OFF THE RAILINGS ASAP.

jpm said...

I led the THEY WANT YOUR POD protest.

Yes, m'lud, I removed those damned yellow crime signs. (Since which time the perception of crime has fallen; except in the City.)

But, in mitigation, I was driven to it by a Council that was harassing me, man. And the fall in property prices that these signs have caused also assisted in my rapid mental decline. Plus people who whine about things, and do absolutely nothing to change them but whine.

I now plan to remove all roadside railings. They'll be gone by tomorra! (But don't tell the police, Anon,or I'll be well and truly scuppered.)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you need to join Andy in his shed.

jpm said...

As long as there are no mice there.

The Cat Man said...

I can practically guarantee there are no mice having two cats. They may of left a couple of little organic poops but not much else.

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