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