Campaign group wants Drakefell Road to go HGV-free

The DRAG Campaign Team write:

The Drakefell Road Action Group has submitted a Petition to Lewisham Council to persuade them to make this Brockley street safer, more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists and ban the large Lorries which are blighting the lives of residents. Drakefell Road is an important link for residents between Brockley and Nunhead but Lorries are cutting through, knocking over trees and damaging cars and the pavements are being destroyed by pavement parking.

Increasing numbers of large vehicles are taking short cuts across our borough, to get to the Elephant & Castle building sites; they take a short cut  to avoid the A roads they  are supposed to use. These larger vehicles are meant to go on the Transport for London Route Network (TRLN). They divert not just to save time and money, but we suspect to avoid the London Night Time Lorry Ban. They often start thundering through Brockley at 6am.

Drakefell Road is a residential road on the edge of the Telegraph Hill conservation area, an important local route to Haberdasher Aske schools and to two parks, and a college. Yet, Lewisham Council allow the road, despite being mainly houses and flats, to be used as a rat run for larger vehicles taking a short cut to avoid the New Cross gyratory.

Residents are faced with a double whammy, as passing heavy lorries not only cause vibration and damage homes, they force people to park on the pavement, for fear of heaving their cars damaged  - a regular occurrence - and thus the pavements are blocked for pedestrians.

The HGVs routinely ignore the 20mph speed limit and can be very dangerous, and there have been two serious accidents in the last three months. Luckily, during these two incidents, no one has been killed or seriously injured, but this was down to sheer luck, and we believe the accidents happened because these vehicles are too big for narrow roads like Drakefell Road.

On the evening of October 1, 2014, a tree was torn down by an impatient lorry driver who manoeuvred too fast, causing havoc and devastation; the other incident, in June 2014, was a huge lorry that jack knifed while manoeuvring round the tiny Drakefell/Pepys roundabout, feet away from passing school children and commuters.  The driver had tried to turnaround after realising the lorry couldn't continue on a narrower section of road.

Drakefell Road is classed as a B road, even though it isn't suitable for large vehicles – it is too narrow. DRAG would like it to be 'Declassified' to discourage larger vehicles to take short cuts. Indeed we have pointed out that the vehicles often cross a weak Bridge in Avignon Road, which is only meant for vehicles up to 7 tonnes.

Blocked pavements are a real problem, and Lewisham council is one of the last remaining authorities in inner London to tolerate pavement parking at the expense of those who walk, or have pushchairs or for those who are mobility impaired and use a wheelchair.

We feel that Lewisham has forgotten that streets are where people live, they are important places, and they are our 'public space' places where we encounter each other. Lewisham Council has made the street a 20mph zone, which is strongly supported by residents; but they are not enforcing it.

Neighbouring boroughs such as Southwark, have been making vast improvements to local streets, including banning pavement parking, making safer streets through better design and traffic calming. During the last five years, street design has come on leaps and bounds, if you go to Hackney now, you will notice how the council has made massive improvements and have blocked off many residential roads to avoid rat running and creating the type of streets where people want to walk and cycle.

DRAG's Drakefell vision
If Hackney can have safe streets where children can play, where people are encouraged to walk and cycle, why can't Brockley? DRAG is mindful that Drakefell Road is a key route for residents of Brockley and Honor Oak and are not suggesting that cars are banned or diverted to neighbouring areas. Rather we want to have a safe street which is accessible on foot, where it is safe for people to cycle, where people can cross the road without fear of being hit by an 18 tonne lorry or the giant skip trucks which ply the route all day.

DRAG have a solution: a ban on big heavy goods vehicles; 2 metre width pavements and slowing of traffic to 20mph using good design including raised sections, which enable safe crossing and slow down speeding Vans and SUV's.  DRAG also want the council to create’ build outs’, as have been introduced in other areas, which are designed to protect parked cars, so that pavements are freed up for use by pedestrians.

Drakefell Road residents are unanimously behind a petition, containing 180 signatures, requesting these changes. We are also preparing a report to be presented to the council, which examines and explains in detail the issues and possible solutions desperately needed to improve our street.

Contact us register@drakefell.org  follow us on Twitter @DrakefellRoad if you are affected by the issues we have raised; DRAG would welcome your perspective.

42 comments:

Andy Scorgie said...

As an Endwell Rd resident I heartily support the DRAG initiative Endwell also suffers from HGV's using it as a rat run from Lewisham Way via Vesta Rd and if a ban fro Drakefell is to work the same would need to be done to Endwell and Sprules Rd.

anon said...

Agree with this in principle, but banning it on one street pushes it onto another i.e. St Asaph Road. Is that fair?


Lewisham needs a better strategy and not to be so car focussed.

Rhymer said...

Unfortunately, Lewisham's Ministry of Roads seems to have missed the last 20 years' thinking when it comes to urban living and traffic management. They seem to view their job as championing the rights of drivers, not residents (or anyone else). And if you pester them, they just shout "consultation" until you go away.

Kirk said...

Living as I do 2 streets away from Drakefell, I sympathise and support this position. However, there has to be a balance between desire of residents and the practicality of the location of the road - it does connect two areas, and is used extensively.
I agree lorries should be banned. But the 'artists impression' in the picture above is also silly - it's a through road and can't have a permanent plant-box in it. That serves to dilute the whole overall argument.
As I said, whilst I sympathise, the road's location on the edge of Telegraph Hill means that it serves a completely different purpose to the wholly residential roads within the conservation area - and it does need a slightly different treatment as a result.
More traffic calming, and narrow entrances to dissuade the lorries.

sofia (aka miss lip balm) said...

I hope the council makes a sensible decision - don't ban the vehicles on one road only for the issue to move on to another road. St Asaph Rd has a primary school on it so really doesn't need these beasts driving down it too.

terrencetrentderby said...

Lewisham's useless planners are of course about 20 years behind Southwark's but the NIMBY artist impression above of a blocked road will just palm traffic onto neighboring roads, as mentioned below.

Tamsin said...

It has been a "district distributor" since the 1950s (shown as such on my dad's "Geographica" road map of London).
There is a pinch point on the far side of the Avignon/Pepys Roundabout which presumably keeps out the largest vehicles. Is the main problem with the smaller vans that can get through (in which case make the pinch point narrower) or the scaffolding / skip lorries that turn off earlier (although I thought that yard had closed...).
When Drakefell was closed or had major works for a while (or it might have been the Endwell Road Bridge) the result was huge problems on Kitto/Vesta - with Church, school, nursery, parks, family café etc. One can't win and displacing traffic from one road to make problems on another is not an answer.

Damian said...

Closing it to HGV's in sensible and easily achievable with another pinch point, at the Endwell Rd end maybe? Hoping for 2m footways, narrowing a B road to 1 lane is preposterous and could harm the chances of Lewisham BC taking this proposal seriously

Dannys1234 said...

The same is needed on Shell Road and Vicars Hill where countless HGVs and vans rat run between Loampit and Ladywell to avoid Lewisham centre. Really encouraging to see people come together and take positive action in the hope of improving the conditions for residents.

THNick said...

Unblocking the pavements is easy enough: you could put markings on the pavement to only allow cars 30cm on the pavement. This has been done on Gellatly road so no idea why it hasnt on Drakefell. This should also help slow traffic as the road width is restricted.


I'm not sure any other changes will have that much benefit: the lorries already fit through the pinch point, so any other changes that still let cars through wont discourage them.


As others have said, displacing the traffic to St Asaph's and/or Kitto is a worse option.

Emily said...

There need to be much clearer notices informing lorry drivers that it is a road with a gate across it that stops wide-axled vehicles passing along it which can be seen from New Cross, Peckham and New Kent Roads.

@DrakefellRoad said...

Hi Anon - we certainly aren't suggesting a diversion to St Asaph Road, rather we want the big lorries to go on the A roads - where they should go. We believe in streets for residents where we can all walk, cycle and park in safety. Best Wishes DRAG

DRAG said...

The image is meant to demonstrate the build outs to protect cars and provide a safer place to park - it is indicative rather than an argument for no through traffic
However pleasant that would be !

@DrakefellRoad said...

That is not the point - we are advised by TFL that Drakefell Road is not for heavy vehicle to take short cuts to Southwark, the Lorries we want banned is through traffic which should be on the New Cross Gyratory or the South Circular. Avignon Road has a weak bright with a sign saying 7.5 tonnes, it is regularly crossed by 18 tonne lorries. Or they manoeuvre dangerously in Drakefell Road - this is dangerous and unnecessary Best Wishes DRAG

@DrakefellRoad said...

DRAG aren't suggesting a redistribution of Lorried through Telegraph Hill, no we want them to use the TFL Roads which they are supposed to use. We want safer streets for the whole area, but we have urgent safety issues which need to be addressed before someone is killed or seriously injured.

Brockley Blogger said...

This is typical middle class nimbyism. So you are suggesting that it's better that heavy and dangerous vehicles travel down Drakefell road rather than the New Cross A roads you obviously don't care about the local community, many of which are vulnerable. Spouting your 60 year old connection to the area is offensive to those who have come later. Remember articulated lorries did not exist in 1950!

LBR said...

Lorries need to be forced onto A roads. South East London is a major route to the coastal ports and as a bypass to central London. Residents need to be considered in Lewisham's traffic planning (if such a thing exists). I live at the top end of Tanner's Hill SE8 where the road is incredibly narrow with 2-4 storey buildings on either side. When large vehicles cut through from A20 to get on the A2 just the noise is deafening. I'm considering a similar campaign for Tanners Hill as Lewisham needs to bring it's traffic strategy into the 21st century.

Robert said...

Drakefell Road has big bumps and a width restriction half way through. Are you sure there are articulated lorries on it? A lorry is never going to get through width restriction. I'm sure there are lots of delivery vans - but things need to be delivered.

Robert said...

Also I agree. The main purpose of roads is to create permeable circulation routes through the city. Drakefell is not a suburban back street, it is a secondary connector. Traffic should run smoothly without too much hindrance. If you make it harder for things to move, then the problems will be greater. A traffic jam is a greater eyesore than a moving delivery van.

A road shouldn't be seen as an extension of your front garden. This is London, not rural Kent.

Shortcut finder said...

Drakefell road has had campaigns in the past to do something about its long standing traffic problem. I seem to remember a sign being put up highlighting excessive number of vehicles that the road had to deal with each day. That led to some road changes that helped a lot.


If the issue is HGVs taking short cuts, that can be easily addressed with width restrictions.



But why should community groups have to campaign like this? The council should be proactive and be on top of the problem. Is Lewisham lagging behind other London boroughs?

Giovanni Antonioni said...

I have lived on Drakefell Road for twelve years now and there is definitely a need for something to be done about the HGVs that are using it instead of the main arterial routes they should be using. But it is quite obvious that very few drivers (of any kind) pay much attention to road signs, or at best ignore them. I have wondered why so many of the trees on the road actually lean AWAY from the road, and that there are a number of cracks in front garden walls. I can only suppose that these are caused by the thundering heavy vehicles which use the road. I know my house seems to crack and shake when one goes past. But I don't think the road itself can be altered to match the visionary picture given in this post. It would be great to have more pavement width for pedestrians and the like, but the road itself is not wide enough for two-way traffic and cars parked further onto the tarmac. It's just not wide enough.
I don't think much can be done about the evening rush hour traffic queues either, as so many cars get stuck on their way to the double roundabouts and beyond. I would love the road to be quieter and cleaner, but unfortunately we are stuck with narrow roads and too many people driving to and from work. But there should be some attempt to redirect HGVs onto the appropriate road. It'd probably be cheaper to have a policeman stand in the street and stop them.

guesty said...

Planes overhead, parked cars, HGVs different campaigns but similar root, establishing where the balance lies between the demands of modern life versus the aspirations of the resident in an increasingly densely populated city. #PARKLIFE

brockley fan said...

seriously, do people actually read or just make knee-jerk reactions??? It's very clearly stated in the post that DRAG want lorries on the TFL roads.

@drakefellRoad said...

Hi Robert, the problem has been articulated and 18 metre vehicles, which get stuck and then have to conduct a very dangerous manoevre, I have plenty of photographic evidence, I will ensure these images are on the website www.drakefell.org - Best Wishes DRAG

Robert said...

So the problem is lorries getting to the width restriction and having to turn around? This happens occasionally on Geoffrey Road too, where I used to live. It was an amusing annoyance when it happened rather than a terrible intrusion.

@DrakefellRoad said...

Hi Giovanni, your feedback is very reflective of the comments we have received in our survey www.drakefell.org. As a Transport Planner, I am rather more optimistic about what can be achieved. DRAG have taken a very pragmatic view of what can be done, the image I have included is meant to demonstrate safe accessible pavements and protection for cars, sorry for any confusion. Residents cars are constantly being damaged, hence why they park on the pavement, this is not acceptable. The road already has a 20mph limit, but this is routinely ignored, particularly by the large vehciels who thunder through. Our aim is for the 20mph zone to be enforced through better designed streets, for safe crossing points and for a more accessible street for residents and visitors. This will also result in less noise, less vibration, increased safety and more walking and cycling. The status quo is not an option, the vast majority of residents support this and have signed our Petition. There is no reason why borough roads should relieve congestion on the Transport for London network (New Cross Gyratory). If you look at boroughs like Islington and Hackney, they understand this and make efforts to make safe streets for residents - we expect Lewisham to do this same. Thank you for your contribution to the debate, it is much appreciated. best Wishes DRAG.

terrencetrentderby said...

Lewisham Council probably has more "diversity officers" than town planners.

Algernonian said...

You do realise that these kind of problems are caused by GPS systems. Lorry drivers use a GPS to follow the shortest route, which will take them down residential roads. The GPS probably doesn't know they are driving a ten tonne truck and the road isn't suitable for their vehicle. It's a software development issue as much as a local roads planning issue.
And as for Vicars Hill being a rat run - hardly. Due to the road works out by the old leisure centre, the traffic is backed up there, and on Ladywell Road and Algernon Road, from around 3.30pm to 7.30pm every night. Certainly isn't a short cut. More like a car park.

Wild Brockley said...

I was stuck behind the lorry (and it was huge) just after it hit the tree. It was going up the hill from Brockley Cross and hit the tree just before Sprules Road. I suspect drivers don't know there's a width restriction until they reach the Pepys Rd junction.

Dannys1234 said...

you live on that Vicars Hill/Shell Rd? I can tell you during the day it is a rat run.

Emily said...

I agree - I just made the point clumsily that the signage should ensure that HGV drivers know they have to stick to A roads. Satnavs are taking them up Drakefell because they don't get the information in advance.

Algernonian said...

Algernon Road, which is also a massive rat run. I always thought "rat run" was during the rush hour period - rat running to school/work then from school/work - not a whole day thing. I think traffic moving between A and B, avoiding all the chaos that's going on in Lewisham at the moment (three major roadworks/road closures driving home from the Lee direction last night), it's kind of to be expected. And it'll be going on for quite a while yet!

anonymouse said...

errr, did you read Tamsin's post?

Vicar's Knickers said...

Been to Ladywell recently?
Nightmare!

Vicar's Knickers said...

Vicar's Hill is like a car park from 3pm onwards and it's not just the current road works. Lewisham Council really need to get their act together and sort out the main through routes. Nothing will change till then.

Vicar's Knickers said...

I vaguely remember talk of closing off Harefield road to stop the through traffic. Can't remember what the outcome was.

terrencetrentderby said...

That bus only trap on end of Pepys Road that joins Drakefell is really annoying.

THNIck said...

But as Tamsin pointed out, when Drakefell was closed, the lorries just displaced to other residential roads, not to the a-roads.

Lady Brockley said...

Happy to support DRAG’s initiative to promote keeping heavy good vehicles only on TFL roads (where they are certainly meant to be.) However evidently this has proved unmanageable to enforce in our local residential streets (it’s not just experienced on Drakefell).

How could successfully getting measures to ban HGV’s on Drakefell Road alone (which is what this initiative ostensibly comes across as lobbying for in the main focus) ensure this doesn’t just displace this dangerous problem to neighbouring roads such as Vesta Road? As Tamsin and THNIck confirmed above, when Drakefell was temporarily closed beforehand, the lorries did not divert to the a-roads, they just continued to shortcut by diverting to the other residential roads especially Vesta and Kitto Road, which was significantly more dangerous aroundt the school in particular. Vehicles race down the hill on Vesta despite having it's minor width restrictions. It’s an incredibly dangerous road for anyone to cross particularly for children at the current Haberdasher's Free School entrance and the blind spots further down the hill towards Barriedale and Millmark.
With all best wishes to the fragment initiative of anti-HGV and speeders, it’s no good risking the inevitable displacing that will create even more dangerous neighbouring roads (which is most likely what will happen as, yes, the vehicles will simply divert to the shortest option…) How will DRAG ensure they will not?

Tamsin said...

That is a very interesting point. Quite amusingly when GPS first came in the directions around Edinburgh - a multi-layered city - told people to drive down steps or else turn left or right off a viaduct! And currently cousins in Devon have to tell visitors to ignore the satnav which will direct them up what is little more than a dirt track but go on to the next road through the main village.

DRAG said...

Hi Lady Brockley, Thank you for your comments, I would like to point out that DRAG is highlighting the issues of residents in Drakefell Road, who have been subject to danger as a result of HGV;s either hitting trees, or jack knifing and embarking upon dangerous manoevres. We would like to engage with the council to find a solution which results in safe streets where people can walk, cycle and park without fear of serious injury or abuse from aggressive drivers, this has been the case with young mums with pushchairs. Best Wishes DRAG

Ianto said...

I was talking to an ambulance driver the other day who was complaining about the drivers on the east side of the Pepys/Drakefell mini roundabout who don't park their vehicles on the pavement. Slows down their response times apparently.

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