Poll: Your opinion on the new road blocks eg Bishopsthorpe Road

The council has now blocked traffic on certain roads in Sydenham, in a plan designed to discourage motorists from using their vehicles and encourage walking, cycling and social distancing.

Critics pointed out the lack of formal consultation, the resulting increases in congestion on other roads, and the peculiar choice of roads to target.

How do you feel about this new traffic management strategy?

  • Pleased to see these road blocks
  • Unhappy about the road blocks
  • Don’t feel strongly either way
  • Other (please comment)

0 voters

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Please don’t forget to add your opinion and/or agree with relevant posts on Commonplace. It’s a flawed system, but it’s all we’ve got while our elected representatives and council staff adopt this high handed approach. One of our Councillors posted on sister site SE23.Life that he would have liked to see these measures introduced earlier and without consultation and (in effect) people employed by the Council know best. And this Councillor sits on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and is Vice-Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. We won’t change his mind. It’s shut. But we might persuade others to think again.


I have a few issues with the impartiality of the text and the questions.

The text only sets out one side of the argument and makes some questionable claims. Is there any evidence that car traffic has increased on other roads? Perhaps people are walking or cycling instead of driving, as the scheme intends? I’m also not sure about the implication that council officials have a personal agenda for their own properties.

I can see that you might be annoyed by the consultation process. Perhaps it would be better to separate the questions to identify who is unhappy with the consultation/implementation and who is unhappy with the scheme itself? Personally if you accept that the intended aim of this scheme is to improve social distancing then I can see why the council had to rush it through, rather than wait for a lengthy consultation.

To widen the discussion slightly, my view is that anything that reduces the amount of cars in our cities is to be encouraged. The layout for most UK towns were set before cars became widespread and reducing car ownership could do so much to revive local communities… encouraging people to shop more locally and making it easier for children to play out. It’s difficult to interact with your local community when you’re shut away in a car. Plus our streets become so ugly when they’re a solid wall of parked cars and wheelie bins.

Hopefully this doesn’t come across as harsh.


Welcome to the forum @Jimmy and thanks for the feedback on wording. I have removed the part which points out the influential people living on the street, and reworded the positive argument slightly. Now I think the wording applies roughly the same weight (certainly a similar number of words) to the pro and con arguments:

Admittedly the new wording will probably only affect votes cast from now on, but forum members are always able to change their votes, should they wish.

Obviously, this is only a straw poll of self-selected participants, and doesn’t infer any reliable data. That said, I am keen to be fair to both sides of the argument. Thanks again for your post.

Hello Jimmy and welcome to the forum. I can see that part of the confusion is that some people believe that these measures are to do with social distancing/Covid-19 - because that is what the Council have recently decided to pin this to. I only found out about the scheme when Chris posted about it on sister site SE23.Life. But when I then asked the leader of a local group who happens to live on Bishopsthorpe if she had known about this, she said it was being discussed in some circles last summer and that there had been a workshop in Sydenham Library at which this was discussed. Last summer. Long before Covid-19. So one of things that I am not happy about is the Council acting in an opportunistic way and using the pandemic as an excuse to drive through the changes they have decided on without a consultation. Also she said that that discussion was under the banner of “East Sydenham” air quality (I’ll try to find the link to that). I have never thought of the Thorpes as East Sydenham. It’s always been Sydenham town centre in my mind and I’m sure I’m not the only person who would have thought so.

I am unhappy with the lack of consultation and the scheme, which will drive traffic onto less “desirable” high density streets. I don’t know of any streets in our part of the borough that aren’t residential. In this part of London we also have the double historic whammy of streets cut in two by the railway and roads that were constructed as cul de sacs because of the divvying up of the commonland under enclosure (especially apparent in upper Sydenham) - hence fewer roads that can take through traffic

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I wish Commonplace and the Council were a fraction as fair, Chris. I thought the original wording was impartial.

I would say “… a plan said to be desgined to … etc … and to aid social distancing in those chosen streets.”

By the way, we still don’t know what is coming next, as Commonplace states: “We will be sending further news updates as and when schemes become live.”

Over on SE23.Life, Cllr Gibbons said the intention was to " funnel traffic down a more limited set of avenues". I asked what these “avenues” would be, as I am concerned for the health and wellbeing of the people who work, study, live and play on these less that lucky residential “avenues”. He hasn’t answered that and Commonplace obviously aren’t going to let us know until it is a fait accompli.

Perhaps Cllr @ChrisBestUK would tell us? Surely the Council have some sort of a plan and they’re not making this up as they go?

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'ello, 'ello, 'ello. Wot’s this all about then?

Just seen this on Commonplace:

Please explain why

Several members of the Sydenham community with an axe to grind against the current Councillors for personal and political reasons are stoking the fires of this decision on Sydenham Facebook groups and forums, making laughable “polls” on websites where they smear Councillors and fail to mention all the benefits in reduction of traffic, chiefly how safe Silverdale feels now as opposed to the constant traffic of before and how much nicer the air is since the traffic has disappeared. They also keep comparing Silverdale and Mayow Road constantly like they are not two completely different roads (one residential and one double the size for main traffic).

They do not represent the majority of voices - some of them don’t even live on the street! Me and my neighbours who live at the tail end of Silverdale are delighted with the scheme.

Would you like this scheme to be made permanent?


Of course Commonplace is anonymous and the person writing that obviously doesn’t know Mayow Road, so here is some info from Rightmove, from which that person can learn that Mayow Road is residential.


I wonder how this anonymous person knows how the “majority” feel and just who this person is making spurious allegations about?

Mayow Road has been described as a ‘main road’, but the generous width at the Sydenham Road junction narrows considerably further down. The far end is quite narrow for a bus route, and might get interesting with a heavier traffic flow.

That Commonplace user’s comment will help other Commonplace users discover inclusive forums like this where people are more free to explore the issues… I suspect that was unintentional on the user’s part!

I just feel that they are using Covid-19 as an excuse to push through something without proper consultation. Councillors were discussing this proposal last June. They are basically pushing traffic away from an already quiet street (an area with higher socio economic groups) towards roads which serve local schools, past council estates or the high street which have more pedestrians. There was little to no consultation on this and it is still poorly sign posted with many cars now having to do U-turns in the road and cut through the narrow Dacres road (right by the secondary school) or they U-turn in flats on Silverdale.

I appreciate it must be very nice for the residents of Silverdale and Bishopsthorpe who benefit but why was this road chosen. I am all for cleaner air and encouraging cycling - I scoot and jog all over this borough. It just seems like a little corrupt as councillors, deputy major and members of Sydenham society live here. Why not close Adamsrill road (also a cut though to Lower Sydenham and home to 2 primary schools? Why not close Dacres Road which serves a secondary school and council estate so directly affects 1000s of people? What about Cator Road which is another rat run and serves a local junior school. People aren’t complaining because they drive their children to school. They are complaining because their walk to school is now more dangerous as traffic is pushed to Mayow Road. I am just really disappointed as a labour voter that the people in charge seem to be so self serving and play the system to their advantage. Please write to your local councillors at www.writetothem.co.uk and ask for the costs involved with this scheme, or any equalities impact assessment, breakdown of costs etc.


It’s an interesting situation. The Labour council clearly campaigned on the basis of improving air quality, increasing cycling, increasing walking and reducing car use. Therefor you can argue that they have a mandate to implement these road closures. Generally I’m supportive of these aims but I agree that it seems unlikely that these scheme will have a noticeable impact on social distancing.

Clearly they’re using the pandemic as an opportunity to deflect some of the negative criticism. Central government and plenty of companies and are doing the same thing at the moment.


I don’t know if it was before or after these road closures, but there was a road accident in Mayow Road on the 19th June, so I don’t know if the two are related. With these closures traffic is now directed along Dacres Road, passing Forest Hill School then into Mayow Road or continue onto Queenswood Road and onto Perry Rise. Perry Rise is already busy with traffic coming off the South Circular Road, which then has a knock on effect on Bell Green and Southend Lane. There was no Neighbourhood consultation before these barriers were put in, and it is supposed to be temporary while we have the Covid - 19 pandemic. So why have bollards been installed in the middle of the road and the pavement?


I don’t believe they’ve supplied any evidence that these measures will improve air quality. When asked, they say things like it will discourage people using cars. But there’s no evidence that it will. Logic says it will just make car journeys longer and slower, therefore increasing air pollution in the streets that don’t get sealed off.

As far as I know there are very few pollution monitoring points in Sydenham and where evidence of extremely poor air quality has been collected (eg Haseltine School) the Council has done nothing. So how and who is monitoring this? After the 20mph zoning was brought in, Lewisham relied on generalised “evidence” that 20mph didn’t increase a limited set of pollutants from petrol cars driving on horizontal roads. Not new, localised evidence. It was an old study carried out in a lab. I spoke to @CllrSophieMcGeevor (now Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport) at a local assembly at the time. Whether Environment and Transport were two separate briefs, looked after by two different councillors, at the time I don’t know, but Sophuie had come to talk about the Environment and expressed surprise that Environment hadn’t been consulted about the 20mph zoning.

All traffic expends higher levels of pollutants at 20mph than at 30mph when going up the steep hills such as those prevalent in our part of the borough.

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I have nothing personal against any councillors - I have however pointed out that councillors live on that road as I feel it is only fair (and it is information that you can easily find online). I am also sure that it would be lovely if your street was chosen to be closed off to traffic or become a private cul-de-sac. I just wondered why they chose these particular streets at the cost of streets where local primary and secondary schools are as roads closer to them will now see an increase in traffic and pollution.


Crunching the numbers on the council’s consultation:

I guess the trouble is that to get meaningful local evidence on air pollution you would have to set up monitoring stations for a least a year before and after any intervention, as the levels of air pollution vary so much due to weather conditions and seasons. Kings college produce some really good info on air pollution, which I keep an eye on. https://www.londonair.org.uk/LondonAir/nowcast.aspx

The effect on car travel might be a bit easier to evidence, as presumably they could get the data from mobile phone locations, through google maps etc. I always thought that the 20mph zoning was more to do with safety, rather than reducing air pollution. I’ve tried sticking to 20 a few times but people have beeped their horns and overtaken, so I think it might have the opposite effect. All together I think it’s a difficult thing to prove conclusively either way.


Rather than accept the council’s arbitrary closures, it looks like people are taking matters into their own hands in Brockley:

I’m generally supportive of anything to reduce car use in general. And I agree that it’s a bit easy for car-bro’s to scream “lack of scientific evidence”. Though it seems that the planter scheme was not very well thought through.

The optimist in me hopes it will generally nudge everyone away from car use.

This is quite an amazing article / vision. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/opinion/ban-cars-manhattan-cities.html?referringSource=articleShare