What we talk about when we talk about filtering*

By our active travel correspondent Katie Crowe

Feels as though this is a pretty topical issue right now! In essence, when people refer to the ‘road closures’ we have in Crystal Palace (and beyond), these can better be described as modal filters.

A modal filter is where a ‘barrier’ is put in place on a road. During the trial phase of any implementation these will be temporary. Planters being the contentious barrier of choice in the area, but can also include bollards or bus gates (either camera controlled or by physical gate). If measures become permanent, the paving is sometimes altered, so you’d never know the road was accessible to vehicles before!

Modal filters allow designated traffic ‘modes’ to pass through – whether this is bike, scooter, pedestrian, wheelchair (through planters/bollards/paving) or adding to that, buses and emergency vehicles (through a bus gate).

There are already numerous modal filters in place across London and this area of SE London is no exception. Some of these have been in place for a long time, some are relatively new, and some were designed in when the houses were built (or estates grew). Below are some examples.

Queensthorpe Road SE20

Does anyone know the history of any of these? Queensthorpe Road in Sydenham was only altered about 10 years ago but I’ve struggled to find any history on the others. Largely, I think most of these have been in place so long, we barely even notice them. And we definitely don’t ever think ‘they should open that up and let traffic through’.

Dagnall Park SE25

On the subject of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, I used to think that the UK didn’t really do LTNs. But on researching this blog, I’ve realised that these already exist. Even within the confines of SE19.

Haynes Lane SE19

First up, our beloved Triangle – picture the roads within the Triangle, surrounded by Westow Hill, Westow Street and Church Road. You can drive in and out, but you can’t drive through. Was this by design, or could you originally drive straight through and it was later altered? I’d love to know!

Crystal Palace Triangle: roads to nowhere?

A quick nod to the Kingswood Estate – this is also an existing Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Access to the Estate is via either Bowen Drive or Lyall Avenue (both link to Kingswood Drive). There are other access points via Seeley Drive and the Hunts Slip Road junction with Bowen Drive, but they are filtered. So no through traffic for vehicles here. It’s just been this way for such a long time no-one thinks of it in any other way. The residents probably don’t even know they are living on one of the area’s first Low Traffic Neighbourhoods!

Bowen Drive SE21
Seeley Drive SE21

So, when I talk about ‘filtering’ it’s this safe, direct, and convenient access for people on foot, people on bike, people scooting. I would be interested to hear if anyone has a case to open (or re-open) to vehicles any of the access roads described here.

Venner Road, SE26
Romany Road, SE27
Romany Road, SE27
Regina Road, SE25
Regina Road, SE25
Ormanton Road, SE26
Ormanton Road, SE26
Morland Road, SE20
Morland Road, SE20
Laurel Grove, SE20
Laurel Grove, SE20
Hardings Lane, SE20
Hardings Lane, SE20
Dover Road-Troy Road, SE19
Dover Road-Troy Road, SE19
Chipstead Close SE19
Chipstead Close SE19
Beverley Road, SE20
Beverley Road, SE20
Anerley Vale, SE19
Anerley Vale, SE19

*hat tip to Murakami, whose title I have bastardised

12 thoughts on “What we talk about when we talk about filtering*

  1. Robbie,

    Thank you for the local research. All of these pictures are of single filters, isolated closures or just very narrow paths that aren’t appropriate for vehicles. These pictures do not support the removal of 1.5 miles of a key road network. Instead the pictures provide excellent evidence that nothing on the scale that is in place in the Auckland Island, or the alternative that is being proposed has ever been done before.

    Auckland Road should be accepted as thoroughfare because that is what it was always used as and constructed as such. This is evidenced by, 1) the properties being much further set back from the road than is usual for a residential street, 2) the road being wider than quieter residential streets that come off it, and 3) by its actual use as a bus route. To deny this, is to deny history, geography and decades upon decade, of not centuries of use.

    That above being said though, it’s use probably has become more intense and therefore it can certainly be made safer for walkers and cyclists, with the government funding that is being used to pay for this, to instead used to widen the pavement, provide a segregated cycle way, reduce street parking, and instal traffic lights or pelican crossings to allow safe traversing from one side of the road to the other.

    Daniel

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    1. Thanks for your comment Daniel. You should be thanking Katie for the research.

      I don’t think she was trying to say that these roads are the same as Auckland Road, just that the method of closing off roads to provide safe neighbourhoods has been in practice for quite some time and that there have been Low Traffic Neighbourhoods without us calling them as such.

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    2. Daniel, I’m afraid I have to disagree about Auckland Road being a main thoroughfare historically, certainly to the degree it had become before the closures (over 6,000 vehicles a day). I have lived on an adjacent street for over 20 years and the high levels of traffic have developed only in the last decade, at most. 15 years ago or so I used to commute into Croydon by bike along there every day for a couple of years and it was very quiet and pleasant, even in the morning and evening peaks.

      I don’t think it being a bus route is material, either. The 410 is one of a number of routes round here served by small single deckers which run along what are clearly residential streets. For example, the 450 runs along quiet streets between Central Hill and Beulah Hill, and further along in Thornton Heath.

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  2. Thanks Robbie! That’s exactly it. I was trying to counter some of the narrative around ‘road closures’ to show that the roads aren’t really closed at all! Whilst Auckland Road may be relatively wide for a minor road, the number of parked vehicles at certain points and the complete lack of any crossings mean it’s really not suitable for the high volume of motor traffic that was passing through (at speed) prior to the LTN being implemented.

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  3. If you look at historical maps of the area, since the 1800s from its origins as the boundary of Penge Common, Auckland Road has always been used, designated, highlighted and built along as a major road. It is not an A road, but neither has it ever been a quaint quiet road as some are trying to portray it. You can see it on maps before it was even paved and houses built. When the developers started to build houses along what was already a thoroughfare, they made it wider than other residential roads and set the properties further than you would for a normal residential road. i.e. it was intentionally designed, laid out and built along as a thoroughfare with the full knowledge that it is more than just a residential road.

    My point to Katie’s original posts therefore stands – no thoroughfare/minor road in the local area has ever just been closed off like that. Narrow streets, or short stretches, or purely residential access streets have been closed off, but even drawing this comparison is daft given Auckland Road is neither narrow, nor short, nor purely for residential access.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crystal_Palace#/map/0

    https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/maps/?download=true

    The question as to whether the current volumes on Auckland Road are too much, is a valid one, but a separate question. Creating a safer walking and cycling environment should not be used as a cloak for this second issue. Safer walking and cycling along Auckland Road can be dealt with by making (to Katie’s points) more crossings, removing street parking, (to Nik’s points) painting cycle-ways and installing speed cameras. Just closing the road and forcing the displaced traffic onto truly narrow residential roads is regressive, denies history, reality, not to mention being completely undemocractic/unconsulted.

    Daniel

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    1. I’m afraid your characterisation of Auckland Road as a main road is inaccurate. Of course before the advent of the motor car it was one of the few through roads here. Much of the Southern Peninsula was not even built. Nobody is claiming it is a quaint quiet road – quite the opposite. It is a dangerous road with far to many speeding cars. But we are advocating for it to be a quiet road.

      I just thought it would help to give some facts. Not wanting to risk getting run down, I measured Auckland Road and Cypress Road with my size 8 feet. Auckland Road was 26.5 ‘feet’ wide and Cypress Road was 25,75 ‘feet’ wide. Interestingly, the pavement of Cypress Road was 65% wider.

      For much of its length, Auckland Road is in effect only single carriageway because there are very few parking restrictions and cars can park on both sides of the road. Whenever there is an event that attracts a lot of car parking, the road is completely grid locked, for example football days or Harris open day when the 410 gets cancelled.

      The creation or the shutting of roads has never been part of a democratic process. The current scheme is only temporary and before it is made permanent everyone will be able to comment on the scheme. That is what we are doing on this website and we are also allowing you to put the opposite view here.

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  4. Ordinance Survey maps have Auckland Road highlighted differently from the surrounding residential roads. They have it down in the same colour/usage as some larger roads. Clearly the surveyors do not consider Auckland Road to just be another quiet residential road, but instead one that is wider than a normal residential road, specifically designed to carry higher volumes of traffic

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    1. Glad to see you are a fan of Ordinance Survey maps, Daniel – just like me. Just checked mine and all the main roads are in red. Auckland Road is in orange, but so are other roads like Sylvan Hill or even a tiny road like Upper Beulah Hill.

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      1. Robbie,

        Indeed I do love history and geography and glad we can agree on some facts too, namely that Auckland Road is not white like a purely residential road, but orange, i.e. one colour down from a main road (red), clearly designated as a significant road, and certainly more suited to through-traffic than any of the Bromley roads the LTN has dumped the displaced traffic onto. Can also confirm that Upper Beulah Hill has zero entrances to residential properties on it, only the rear of gardens.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Daniel,

    You do raise some really valid points. I guess its difficult to know whether the developers could (or would) have envisaged the traffic volumes of the 2000’s when they started building up in the area. Much of the new development in the area, even now, doesn’t seem to take into account how these new residents are going to travel – or rather, they are not allowing for the additional parking or road space for these people to travel by private car. So they either don’t care, or they are assuming that people’s travel habits will change. Pure speculation on my part.

    You raise some options to keep the road open but make it ‘safer’ so I thought I’d address some of those:

    * Speed Cameras – unfortunately not an option. As covered in the Q&A here – https://crystalpalaceltn.org/some-common-questions/

    * Crossings – as someone who has tried to cross the road with a very immobile parent in recent years, better crossing facilities would be wonderful, but there’s a cost issue with this. Last time I looked, even a zebra crossing is a minimum of £30k, and, given the length of the road, you’d need at least 3 or 4. I just can’t see Croydon (or many boroughs to be honest) having that kid of cash. You’d also have to lose a lot of the parking, which I’ll address below.

    * Parking – to be honest, I’d like to see something in place where people have to pay to park their private property on public land. I’d certainly like to see parking removed from main roads. I can only imagine the reaction to this suggestion – it would make the reaction to this LTN seem almost celebratory in comparison! But let’s say you remove the parking and the road is then ‘wider’. This only encourages more speeding, no?

    * Painted cycle lanes are actively discouraged these days as they don’t provide any protection and certainly don’t encourage new cyclists. Whilst the road is fairly wide, I’m not convinced that it’s wide enough to allow a sufficiently wide cycle lane (even if it’s only painted). And you’d have to make the whole road no parking at any time.

    I feel this is getting off topic from the original post! The post was really to show that modal filtering is not new – simply as a response to the uproar about ‘road closures’, when the road isn’t really ‘closed’ at all (anymore than the roads in the examples in my post are closed).

    Katie

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