TfL rejects calls for extra station and better names on the Bakerloo line extension

Bakerloo line trains at London Road depot, mournfully wishing they could continue their journey to the south. Image: Getty.

So, the good news is: Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed long-awaited plans for a southward extension of the Bakerloo line.

The bad news is: in doing so, it’s ruled out the extra station campaigners had been pushing for, and is still ignoring suggestions for a frankly amazing set of station names.

Plans to extend the Bakerloo have been dribbling along for some time now. It’s the odd one out on the existing network because, while most lines extend from central London in both directions, the Bakerloo runs all the way to zone 5 in the north but never leaves zone 1 in the south. (The Jubilee once did much the same, and that was extended 20 years ago.) Its southern terminus also lies at the edge of the great south London tube and rail desert: an area between the Northern line, Bermondsey and Peckham which lies within a couple of miles of central London but is a right pain in the bum to get to.

The great tube and rail desert. Inside the yellow box, there are basically no stations in walking distance. Image:  Google Maps/CityMetric.

And so, there is both motive and opportunity for this project: the line isn’t already full, and an extension would go somewhere useful. What’s more, the Old Kent Road has a fair amount of land where you could put more houses, which new tube stations would unlock. This, one suspects, is the reason that the New Cross Gate/Lewisham got approved, rather than the Camberwell/Peckham one.

So here’s a very vague map of phase 1:

Phase 1. Image: TfL.

The two “Old Kent Road” stops are not very usefully named, and the map is unhelpfully vague. But they would, TfL, says, be at (1) the junction between Dunton Road and Humphrey Street, and (2) the junction with Asylum Road.

The tube/rail desert, with the rough location of the new stations marked. Image: Google Maps.

If it goes ahead, TfL claims, it’ll open by 2029, and help create 25,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs. Phase two would swallow the Catford and Hayes line, currently operated by Southeastern.

This is all brilliant, isn’t it? It’s brilliant, and frankly anyone from any other British city would be well within their rights to punch any Londoner that whined about it.

But whining about London’s world-class transport system is what this entire website was built on and I’m not going to stop now, and if that induces a certain amount of punching I guess I’ll just have to accept it. And also, this week, Southwark council sent me this map, illustrating its own version of the plan and it’s just... better:

 

Ahhhh. Image: LB Southwark.

There are two reasons I prefer this. One is that extra station, Bricklayers Arms. TfL says this isn’t necessary, on the grounds it’s within a few minutes’ walk of both Elephant & Castle and Borough.

But while that’s true, and I’m sure they’ve run the numbers and stuff, it’s worth noting that the Bricklayers Arms is only a mile from the City and under two from Westminster and the West End. This would be a great spot to increase population density, so we should maybe build the transport capacity that would enable you to do that.

The other reason that this map is better is the names. None of these “Old Kent Road 1 (TBC) nonsense. Instead we get Burgess Park and Asylum. And how can you not want there to be a tube station called Asylum?

Here’s another map of this proposed extension, courtesy of the Back The Bakerloo campaign website:

Southwark council has pledged to continue fighting TfL for the extra station. We shall see.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites


 

 
 
 
 

Self-driving cars may be safe – but they could still prevent walkable, liveable communities

A self-driving car, driving itself. Image: Grendelkhan/Flickr/creative commons.

Almost exactly a decade ago, I was cycling in a bike lane when a car hit me from behind. Luckily, I suffered only a couple bruised ribs and some road rash. But ever since, I have felt my pulse rise when I hear a car coming up behind my bike.

As self-driving cars roll out, they’re already being billed as making me – and millions of American cyclists, pedestrians and vehicle passengers – safer.

As a driver and a cyclist, I initially welcomed the idea of self-driving cars that could detect nearby people and be programmed not to hit them, making the streets safer for everyone. Autonomous vehicles also seemed to provide attractive ways to use roads more efficiently and reduce the need for parking in our communities. People are certainly talking about how self-driving cars could help build more sustainable, livable, walkable and bikable communities.

But as an urban planner and transportation scholar who, like most people in my field, has paid close attention to the discussion around driverless cars, I have come to understand that autonomous vehicles will not complement modern urban planning goals of building people-centered communities. In fact, I think they’re mutually exclusive: we can have a world of safe, efficient, driverless cars, or we can have a world where people can walk, bike and take transit in high-quality, human-scaled communities.

Changing humans’ behavior

These days, with human-driven cars all over the place, I choose my riding routes and behavior carefully: I much prefer to ride on low-speed traffic, low-traffic roads, buffered bike lanes or off-street bike paths whenever possible, even if it means going substantially out of my way. That’s because I’m scared of what a human driver – through error, ignorance, inattention or even malice – might do to me on tougher roads.

But in a hypothetical future in which all cars are autonomous, maybe I’ll make different choices? So long as I’m confident self-driving cars will at least try to avoid killing me on my bike, I’ll take the most direct route to my destination, on roads that I consider much too dangerous to ride on today. I won’t need to worry about drivers because the technology will protect me.

Driverless cars will level the playing field: I’ll finally be able to ride where I am comfortable in a lane, rather than in the gutter – and pedal at a comfortable speed for myself rather than racing to keep up with, or get out of the way of, other riders or vehicles. I can even see riding with my kids on roads, instead of driving somewhere safe to ride like a park. (Of course, this is all still assuming driverless cars will eventually figure out how to avoid killing cyclists.)

To bikers and people interested in vibrant communities, this sounds great. I’m sure I won’t be the only cyclist who makes these choices. But that actually becomes a problem.

The tragedy of the commons

In the midsize midwestern college town I call home, estimates suggest about 4,000 people commute by bike. That might not sound like many, but consider the traffic backups that would result if even just a few hundred cyclists went out at rush hour and rode at leisurely speeds on the half-dozen arterial roads in my city.

Technology optimists might suggest that driverless cars will be able to pass cyclists more safely and efficiently. They might also be directed to use other roads that are less clogged, though that carries its own risks.

But what happens if it’s a lovely spring afternoon and all those 4,000 bike commuters are riding, in addition to a few thousand kids and teenagers running, riding or skating down my local roads? Some might even try to disrupt the flow of traffic by walking back and forth in the road or even just standing and texting, confident the cars will not hit them. It’s easy to see how good driverless cars will enable people to enjoy those previously terrifying streets, but it also demonstrates that safety for people and efficiency for cars can’t happen at the same time.


People versus cars

It’s not hard to imagine a situation where driverless cars can’t get anywhere efficiently – except late at night or early in the morning. That’s the sort of problem policy scholars enjoy working on, trying to engineer ways for people and technology to get along better.


One proposed solution would put cars and bicycles on different areas of the streets, or transform certain streets into “autonomous only” thoroughfares. But I question the logic of undertaking massive road-building projects when many cities today struggle to afford basic maintenance of their existing streets.

An alternative could be to simply make new rules governing how people should behave around autonomous vehicles. Similar rules exist already: Bikes aren’t allowed on most freeways, and jaywalking is illegal across most of the U.S.

Regulating people instead of cars would be cheaper than designing and building new streets. It would also help work around some of the technical problems of teaching driverless cars to avoid every possible danger – or even just learning to recognize bicycles in the first place.

However, telling people what they can and can’t do in the streets raises a key problem. In vibrant communities, roads are public property, which everyone can use for transportation, of course – but also for commerce, civil discourse and even civil disobedience. Most of the U.S., however, appears to have implicitly decided that streets are primarily for moving cars quickly from one place to another.

There might be an argument for driverless cars in rural areas, or for intercity travel, but in cities, if driverless cars merely replace human-driven vehicles, then communities won’t change much, or they may become even more car-dependent. If people choose to prioritise road safety over all other factors, that will shift how people use roads, sidewalks and other public ways. But then autonomous vehicles will never be particularly efficient or convenient.

The Conversation

Daniel Piatkowski, Assistant Professor of Community and Regional Planning, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.