Transport for London Streetspace changes to the A24 (Balham High Road, Upper Tooting Road, Tooting High Street)

Residents who live near the A24 should have received this letter (pdf) from Transport for London (“TfL”) today. Installation work is set to begin in mid-late July 2020, ie in the next couple of weeks.

The changes set out in the letter are part of TfL’s Streetspace for London programme, which will create more space for people to safely walk and cycle. As the letter says:

As London continues to emerge from the Coronavirus lockdown we will need to find new ways to travel. Enabling social distancing to happen on public transport as lockdown restrictions are eased will mean everyone who can do so will need to find alternative ways to travel. Public transport must only be used when absolutely necessary. However, if the number of trips taken by private vehicles increases, London will grind to a halt, with essential deliveries and emergency services stuck in gridlock. That’s why, together with London’s boroughs, we are developing the Streetspace programme to create more space for people to safely walk and cycle.

The programme will both help Londoners to walk and cycle more often, and enable them to safely social distance while they do so. It will also help improve our air quality, making London greener.

Our scheme between Balham and Colliers Wood is part of this wider programme. This is a strategic cycling corridor which follows the Northern Line from Colliers Wood to Elephant and Castle with connections onwards to City of London. Our plans will help to reduce pressure on the Northern Line and assist local buses by making it safer for people to walk and cycle through the area.

The changes are set out in the letter and on the maps. The changes will be made on a temporary basis, and include:

  • New lightly segregated cycle lanes using wands similar to the ones shown in the photo in the letter
  • Bus stop bypasses for cycles wherever possible which will also provide further footway for pedestrians
  • Existing bus lanes will be converted to 24/7, except for the bus lane between Totterdown Street to Mitcham Road southbound which will be 7am-7pm.
  • Bus lanes increased across the scheme by 190m. A section of bus lane is however being removed between southbound between Ritherdon Road and Tooting Bec Road to provide cycling facilities and a new 24hr bus lane created between 215 Balham High Road to Ritherdon Road southbound. Further small increases in bus lane length throughout the scheme.
  • Improved footway to allow social distancing along Balham High Road, Chestnut Grove and at the junction of Mitcham Road/Tooting High Street
  • No entry (except cycles) from A24 onto Balham Park Road, Dafforne Road, Noyna Road, Fircroft Road, Foulser Road, Topsham Road, Mandrake Road and Ansell Road
  • No right turn onto A24 (except cycles) from Trinity Crescent, Dafforne Road, Noyna Road, Fircroft Road, Foulser Road, Topsham Road, Mandrake Road, Brudenell Road, Lynwood Road, Gatton Road and Selkirk Road.
  • No left turn onto A24 (except cycles) from Trevelyan Road
  • No left turn (except cycles) from A24 onto Chestnut Grove, Brudenell Road, Lynwood Road, Derinton Road, Woodbury Street, Gilbey Road and Sellincourt Road
  • No left turn (except cycles and buses) from A24 onto Ritherdon Road and Balham Station Road
  • No right turn (except cycles) from A24 onto Totterdown Street
  • Multiple parking and loading bays will be removed from A24. Most loading and disabled bays will be relocated to nearby side roads. On side roads you will be able to load in marked bays between 10am-4pm Mon-Sun for a max time of 20 minutes.
  • Disabled bays will be in operation for max 3hrs.

For Bedford ward, the relevant changes are shown in this map (extracted from the letter):

The letter sets out the next steps and who you can contact about this:

Next steps

Although we are not undertaking a formal consultation on this scheme, we would like to know about your experiences of it once it is in place. We will be monitoring the effects of the Streetspace programme over the coming months and hope many of the schemes we are introducing could become permanent additions to London’s walking and cycling network.

We would need to undertake a consultation on any scheme we propose be made permanent, and we will use the outcome of any consultation to help decide which schemes we should take forward over the next 18 months.

If you have any comments about the effects of our scheme, or suggestions for changes or improvements we might make, please let us know at streetspacelondon@tfl.gov.uk

The associated public notice is on the Wandsworth Guardian website here: https://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/announcements/public_notices/notice/134603.ROAD_TRAFFIC_REGULATION_ACT_1984/

The A24 is a Greater London Authority road, which means that it is controlled by TfL, rather than by the various councils that the A24 passes through. Ultimately, TfL can make whatever changes it wants to this road (within legal boundaries). That said, we understand that TfL has consulted on these changes with the three London councils that Cycle Superhighway 7 passes through: Lambeth Council, Wandsworth Council, and Merton Council. As ward councillors, we were not involved in the development of these changes.

These changes are separate to the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) that Wandsworth Council is planning to install, but both are part of the Streetspace programme. See this post for further details on LTNs.

14 thoughts on “Transport for London Streetspace changes to the A24 (Balham High Road, Upper Tooting Road, Tooting High Street)

  1. timothy young

    I write as a cyclist who uses Balham High Road.and also as a driver who uses the same. I am appalled by the changes which are being proposed (without any or any proper consultation, I believe). They will make not only the main road but also all the residential roads in the whole area both congested and fume-laden. I have cycled for many years without problem by the simple expedient of a little care and attention – I am more terrorised by speeding (and selfish) cyclists than car drivers who in my experience are suitably respectful of cyclists.
    I can think of no sound reason for the proposed changes other than the desire to make excess money from fines.
    I have no idea who plans these things but they cannot be road users and must simply hate cars. They are unfit for employment in traffic management and should not withsdtand another election. .

    Reply
    1. Ian Freeman

      Well said Timothy. This is a shambles of a plan. How are people meant to get to and from home with no left/right turns between Balham station and Tooting Bec? What about delivery drivers, those transporting the elderly and people taking kids to/picking up from school? Increased traffic will chew up local side streets, increase pollution and inconvenience for residents and result in increased ‘road rage’. The plan is ill thought-out and utterly ridiculous – it probably looked great on paper, though!

      Reply
    2. Tim

      As the owner of a small business in the parade of shops between Marius rd and Du cane Ct we are deeply concerned that this will have a major detrimental impact upon us all.The Disabled bay and loading bay outside Porters the estate agents is being removed.This is used by numerous businesses and local people.There is constant drop off of patients to the Balham pk surgery,many drop dry cleaning to the dry cleaners ,the hairdressers has a number of clients with mobility problems dropped off,the chip shop has many deliveries including the transport of very heavy fat supplies ,the convenience store is a parcel drop off shop and has packages picked up/dropped off every day,the chemists has numerous deliveries.Deliveroo and Uber eats all park for a few moments for the Indian and Chinease restaurants that serve the local area.In a time when all small businesses are struggling i find these proposals amazing poorly considered.Narrowing the rd will make things considerably worse for all concerned.

      Reply
      1. S Bentine

        As a Balham resident I didnt receive the tfl letter. The scheme will be hugely detrimental to local businesses and residents alike. Plus it seems to be incompatible with the proposed traffic calming scheme for Elmbourne road and Heaver Estate and the closure of Bedford hill and oakmeadcroad which has already gridlock Balham increasing journey times mileage and pollution

        Reply
  2. M

    Question re the A24. Driving from Balham to Tooting Broadway and wanting to turn right at Trinity Road. There is a “no right turn except buses” sign that seems to be lit at certain hours of the day. Does anyone know the hours? If that sign is lit, the next right turn will be Beechcroft which has no filter and very limited time for turning right…. Will these timings be checked before the “improvements” are put in place?

    Reply
  3. V. Gregory

    Given the Coronavirus situation and the dire impact it is having on work, increasing the costs for me to get through parts of south London is just another nail in the coffin. The longer it takes to get to customer sites the harder it is for me to work. Blocking off Before Hill down to Balham High Road is great idea on Saturdays and Sundays, the rest of the week it’s a nonsense. There also seems to be some kind of wide pavement island being built between Balham Park Road and Chestnut Grove. This narrows the the road down from 2 lanes to one lane for about 10 metres. Please would someone explain why money is being spent on this. It’s forcing buses into the right and is going to cause a bottleneck.

    Reply
  4. Sara Green

    Like others I am also appalled about the changes being made to the A24 and especially the stretch from Balham to Tooting Bec without any real democratic consultation planned.

    The reasons given in the TfL mailing dated 9th July 2020 suggest the ‘Streetspace programme is to create more space for people to safely walk and cycle. The programme will both help Londoners to walk and cycle more often, and enable them to safely social distance while they do so. It will also help improve our air quality, making London greener… the scheme between Balham and Colliers Wood is part of this wider programme.’ all in light of the guidance at this present time that asks that people don’t use public transport unless essential and to prevent a London grinding to a halt through increased vehicular usage.

    What is proposed however doesn’t seem to resolve this matter in the slightest. In a city the size of London it is not possible for everyone to walk or cycle everywhere and in this area in particular where pavements are already significantly wider than in others for pedestrians and there are cycle lanes already in place, it seems that all this new round of changes will result in is exactly what TfL suggests it is trying to avoid which is traffic grinding to a halt and increased air pollution as cars travelling up and down the A24 are stuck in long slow moving queues.

    I note that vehicular access to many of the roads on either side of Balham High Road will no longer be possible once TfL changes are implemented. I would like to know why these changes are being imposed and without any trial period given the extent to which they will impact on all the people who live and work in this area. I also consider that preventing vehicles from accessing some of the roads on either side of Balham High Road but not all roads will only lead to other roads being put under much greater pressure. I would like to know on what basis some roads have been selected rather than others. For example one road that has been identified for no left turn to vehicles travelling south towards Tooting Bec is the very widest road in this area, Ritherdon Road, which has the greatest capacity for local traffic. With other actual and planned road closures around Bedford Hill, Tooting Bec Common and the Heaver estate, of which Ritherdon Road is part, this does not make any sense not least because it will force people who live and work in this area into taking unnecessarily circuitous routes, finding other ways round and driving further to access their own homes and businesses each day. This is clearly environmentally unsound and not well thought out for the people who live, work and run businesses here.

    Sara Green

    Reply
  5. Wandsworth resident

    I do not know a single local resident who received any consultation document, link or information regarding this. It is a terrible plan, rushed and ill thought through. It is also deliberately confusing and none of the consultation website links work and work was due to start 2 weeks after they were allegedly issued? Not much of a consultation then is it really. What a joke.

    Reply
  6. caspar mann

    As usual Tfl is imposing its doctrine of promoting walking and cycling without any thought to the impact on all who live, have business or pass through Balham.Unless the objective is to create gridlock just for the sake of it, this new street furniture, narrowing Balham high road, is a complete disaster.Surely the objective of Tfl should be to ensure free flow of traffic on the routes they want traffic to travel on .Cars, vans and trucks are, whether we like it or not, a part of the life we live.Creating chaos on the road just to force people to reconsider unnecessary car journeys is a hopelessly blunt and stupid approach with many unintended consequences.Many people are compelled to drive unfortunately, cycling 15 miles to work is not for everyone.
    Standstill traffic is good for no-one , worse still, it encourages people to look for alternatives down residential streets.If only we could implement changes that actually added real value rather than making what is in effect a pathetic gesture to promoting green credentials in name only while actually causing genuine harm in the process.

    Reply
  7. caspar mann

    As usual Tfl is imposing its doctrine of promoting walking and cycling without any thought to the impact on all who live, have business or pass through Balham.Unless the objective is to create gridlock just for the sake of it, this new street furniture, narrowing Balham high road, is a complete disaster.Surely the objective of Tfl should be to ensure free flow of traffic on the routes they want traffic to travel on .Cars, vans and trucks are, whether we like it or not, a part of the life we live.Creating chaos on the road just to force people to reconsider unnecessary car journeys is a hopelessly blunt and stupid approach with many unintended consequences.Many people are compelled to drive unfortunately, cycling 15 miles to work is not for everyone.
    Standstill traffic is good for no-one , worse still, it encourages people to look for alternatives down residential streets.If only we could implement changes that actually added real value rather than making what is in effect a pathetic gesture to promoting green credentials in name only while actually causing genuine harm in the process.

    Reply
  8. Hilary Jenks

    I agree with all the above comments. Balham High Road between Tooting Bec and Balham Station has become a permanent traffic jam. I am disabled and the Disabled Bay outside Balham Park surgery has been removed. This road has always been congestion free and it is now a nightmare, along with all the other changes proposed. I live on the Heaver Estate in Manville and it now feels totally locked in and I have to think how to get anywhere. Bedford Hill also closed. Balham High Road is a direct route to St Georges Hospital. There is now nowhere for cars to pull in to allow Ambulances to get to the hospital. As Mayor Khan lives in Tooting, he will know what we are all furious about. By the time letters showing the changes arrived all this stuff was already in construction. Do we want the economy to recover, and help small businesses to survive then whoever makes these decisions should be fired.

    Reply
  9. Ian McKay

    The cycle lane/LTN scheme appears to make no sense for Balham.

    I live just off Balham High Road and received no letter of notification of plans or leaflet suggesting where more info could be found. There has also clearly been no consultation period with the wider community.

    Further:
    1. There was already an observed cycle superhighway which appeared to be working broadly satisfactorily.
    2. Each bus stop has been pushed into the road meaning every time the bus stops, so does all the traffic. This, combined with the closing of side roads, rather than promoting transport use because cars will be slower than buses actually forces people into cars to sit in comfort in the same traffic jam as the bus – raising pollution levels. As stated elsewhere, gridlocked roads are also of no help to emergency services.
    3. Each bus stop forces passengers to cross the cycle lane which, if TfL are to be taken at their word, will be full of speeding cyclists. Accidents are more likely for older and less nimble bus passengers unable to leap aside from bikers.
    4. The ramps created to give step free access to bus passengers are too steep/abrupt for cyclists. The effective kerb they have to mount will cause accidents and annoyance resulting in more cyclists using the smoother pavements.
    5. Where bus stops previously had off-carriageway pull-ins, these have been by-passed so buses have to stop in the middle of the road. Again stopping traffic and raising pollution levels.
    6. The pavements between Tooting Bec and Balham stations were not confined and always offered plenty of space for pedestrians.
    7. A number of existing bus lanes have become cordoned-off cycle only lanes creating greater congestion.
    8. The scheme is a summer scheme and makes no allowance for the 9 months a year the sun is not shining – unless TfL intend erecting a roof over the capital’s whole cycle lane.
    9. Perhaps some work between TfL and Google Maps would stop the algorithms suggesting the rat runs as quicker alternate routes along with some steeper, more regular ‘sleeping policemen’.

    I applaud the idea of reducing car use and pollution levels but this scheme does nothing to improve the situation, with much of it already in place, it is clearly making things worse. Although Draconian, it is likely better to actually ban cars and provide better transport than expect this to do anything other than take us back to the jams 70s and 80s.

    Ian

    Reply
  10. Charlotte Hamilton

    This is a ridiculous and ill conceived plan. I am both a cyclist and road user. The no left turn into Ritherdon Road from the A24 is nonsensical. Especially as you can’t access Bedford Hill directly from the A24 now either. All this achieves is putting increased pressure on the high road, forces car users into much longer work around routes (more congestion, more pollution) and clogs up the smaller residential streets which (with parking) are simply not designed for two cars to pass adequately.
    The fact that you are sneaking this in under ‘no consultation due to COVID is very underhand’. And don’t get me started on the poor businesses on the high road that had short term parking spaces removed.

    Reply
  11. Daniel Collar

    As a working London Black cab driver from Balhami am flabbergasted at the restrictions inposed upon us in the area of Balham station,it has become impossible to work this area,No left turn into Balham station Road from Balham High Road,No access to Rossiter and Sistova roads,No left turn into Balham Park Road and Chestnut Grove,who ever came up with these restrictions has caused incalcuble damage to Buisnesses and ordenary local people ,how am i able to pick up my dissabled passengers,how much moe expensive will it be because of the grid lock in Balham Station Road,Sainsburys car park in accesable from Balham High Road because of theno left turn into Balham staion Road,these draconian impositions are outrageous,highly damaging to everyone and created problems that did not exsist before,only someone with a malicious agender,or some group of incompetent individuals could have come up with these ridiculous plans,i just cant believe this has happend!

    Reply

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