Category Archives: Traffic

New ULEZ restrictions – and heavy charges – fast approaching

Just a reminder that from 25 October 2021, the existing central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will expand to create a single larger zone up to, but not including, the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205).

That includes us, obviously.

TfL have a link which tells us whether our cars meet the emissions standard and the charges we shall need to pay. Four out of five cars, they say,  already meet the ULEZ emissions standards, but they need owners of older polluting cars, motorcycles, lighter vans and minibuses to take action. (Meaning? … sell the offending vehicle to somewhere outside London, presumably  –  and no doubt at a loss.)

This is the link.

ULEZ expansion could cost £12.50 per day when your car moves

Cars, motorcycles, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes), and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes) will either need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards, or pay a £12.50 daily charge when driving within the expanded ULEZ zone.  You will not be charged for a non-compliant vehicle parked in the zone on days you don’t drive it (how gracious of the Mayor!).

The ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year except Christmas Day (25 December).

The current ULEZ emissions standards will continue:

• Euro 3 (NOx) for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles
• Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes)
• Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes)

What isn’t clear is how TfL will check vehicle movements (and therefore surcharge liability). Presumably we will see an expanded network of cameras such as already exist within the present Congestion Charge/ULEZ zone.

How much is this bit of road worth?

Yes, this bit…

Townley Road, joining East Dulwich Grove

For Southwark Council, this patch of tarmac is paved with gold.

All you need is some signs and a traffic camera.

Since the Emergency Traffic Measures came into effect, Southwark Council has ensured that these few metres  –  where Townley Road and Calton Avenue converge at the traffic lights to join East Dulwich Grove  –  have raised, at a conservative estimate, over £200,000 from drivers who either missed or misinterpreted the warning signs, or alternatively mistimed their journey.

If you are driving back to Herne Hill from East Dulwich and decide go up Lordship Lane and then take a right turn along Townley Road to run between Alleyn’s School and their playing field, you might miss the warning signs at the beginning of the stretch. But if you do, as you reach the last few metres before the traffic lights at East Dulwich Grove, you are doomed unless you decide to enrage the tailback of traffic behind you by doing a three-point turn to beat a retreat.

Because this is the sign you see:

By the time you have registered what it says, you are trapped.

Within a week or two, the post brings a Penalty Charge Notice that graciously allows you to pay a mere £65 for prompt settlement. The detail of the contravention is stated as “using a route restricted to certain vehicles”.

In some parts of Dulwich around the Village, similar signs have raised even more. The northbound camera in Dulwich Village by the corner of Pickwick Road has raised £695,300.

These figures, revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request recently tabled by a neighbour, only take us to the end of March. No doubt the council’s tills are still ringing. For the wider Dulwich area, Southwark admits to having raised over £1 million during this period.

One consequence is significant traffic displacement. Our local LTNs have caused sharply divided opinions and vigourous debate. Some closures seem more pragmatically sited than others. But the annoying feature about this particular trap on Townley Road   –  readers may of course disagree  –  is that the prevention of traffic taking this route seems to serve no obvious purpose in reducing street pollution, unless it is to cut down on cars, vans and trucks driving past Alleyn’s School at busy school times. Thus, weekends are excluded. But not, mark you, school holidays or even lockdown when the school was empty.

Over time, the penalties do of course work to deter traffic at this point during those stated times, if that is the intention: once stung, one avoids the area scrupulously. So you just find an alternative way home, along busier roads.

Fighting with a Leylandii cypress hedge?

If you walk to or from the centre of Herne Hill via Herne Hill itself, rather than by Milkwood Road, you may have felt the aggression of the Leylandii hedge pictured here. It’s on the right-hand side (going downhill) outside the flats at number 90 Herne Hill.

Outside no 90 Herne Hill

It extrudes over the 2 metre wide pavement, 70 cm at the bottom of the bushes, but is well over a metre wide at an adult’s shoulder height – over half the pavement’s width. Preserving social distancing, families and couples walking up or down the hill might expect anyone walking the other way to step off the pavement to give them space to pass – but if they do, the uphill pedestrian(s) cannot see the traffic behind them and may rely on hearing and inaccurately judge the situation.

So this could be a tragic accident waiting to happen, all because someone – presumably the owner of the block of flats at number 90 – has failed to maintain the hedge properly.

Further, the nearby pedestrian crossing outside the Church also serves Herne Hill School with 280 pupils aged from 2-7, so there can be well over 300 people gathering at different times of the morning and afternoon, often with smaller siblings in buggies.

The Herne Hill Society have been informally asked to see whether Lambeth Council can deal with this issue, perhaps by themselves cutting the hedge back to the wall, if they have the legal powers to do so.

One of our councillors, Jim Dickson, has been made aware of the problem and has promised to look into it. Meanwhile, please take care when navigating this bullying obstacle.

Whether it’s worth expecting the council to do anything to diminish the pollution thrown out by the traffic converging from all directions, at a snail’s pace, on our junction under the bridge – well, that may be too much to ask. ‘Unintended consequences’ …

speed humps on Milkwood Road

Lambeth are proposing to place full-scale speed humps on Milkwood Road in the hope of lowering the traffic speeds that make the road dangerous. They invite comments via this link.

It’s difficult to imagine  any local resident objecting to this measure. Many of us have stared, astonished, at cars, vans and motorbikes roaring down Milkwood in speeds clearly in excess of the 20 MPH limit.

But maybe we shall need to monitor whether such a measure, if introduced (supposedly in August),  displaces fast traffic onto Fawnbrake Avenue.

Parking in Dulwich Park – again

Over on Twitter, one or two people commented on our recent story about Southwark’s proposed parking charges in Dulwich Park. They said rather smugly that no-one should take their cars there anyway, and that walking is more environmentally correct.  Conventional fair comment, but not everyone is fit enough to walk two or three miles to visit a park or a gallery.  Oh, I suppose they can always summon a Uber …

A nicer and more balanced opinion has appeared from one of our neighbours here in Fawnbrake.  To save scrolling down, I’ll reproduce it here too:

“Another reason to visit the park regularly is to attend the many Dulwich & District U3A groups that meet in Rosebery Lodge. Many Herne Hill residents are signed up for these. Personally, though by nature lazy, I get out the bike and cycle to my group, so am feeling rather smug about the planned charges. But this is not an option for everyone and the absence of a good bus service makes it more difficult. But I do commend cycling. And from where I am in Fawnbrake you can always avoid the climb up Kestrel (and Ruskin Walk on the return) by taking the slightly longer way round along Milkwood Road. And from Half Moon lane turn into quiet Winterbrook Road, where soon the Japanese cherries will be flowering – a real delight.”

Rosebery Lodge, Dulwich Park

We’re going to be ‘liveable’, it seems

A recent press release from The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) has announced an extension of the Liveable Neighbourhoods programme that promises improvements in Brixton and Herne Hill. This follows a bid from Lambeth.

The general intention – an ambitious one, for sure – is that junctions will be made safer, new cycle infrastructure built, and traffic reduced on residential streets to enable more Londoners to walk, cycle and use public transport, and clean up the capital’s toxic air. The scheme promises new walking and cycling infrastructure, new pedestrian crossings and rat runs closed to motor traffic. New pocket parks (er, what’s that?) and revamped public spaces will improve air quality and make local streets more attractive places, helping to support local high streets.

Atlantic Road (image from TfL)

The element of the programme closest to us is focused around Atlantic Road in Brixton, which will be transformed for people walking, cycling and using the bus. Local freight access will be maintained with technology utilised to better manage loading and servicing. Investment will overhaul public spaces, widen footways and add new pedestrian crossings, creating a more welcoming environment for the area’s many visitors, residents and businesses.

Brixton to Herne Hill cycle route

There is not much more detail at present, but the official TfL/Mayor’s office statement says the project will build high-quality infrastructure on three key strategic cycle routes: Brixton to Clapham Common, Brixton to Camberwell and Brixton to Herne Hill. “Low traffic neighbourhoods” will be created in the Ferndale and Railton neighbourhoods and a new, fully segregated cycle route will link to the Loughborough neighbourhood.

We await more information with interest. If the project can do something about the heavy and often dangerous traffic along Milkwood Road, and on Herne Hill Road, that would be a bonus.

TfL wake up to impact of their new emission standards

Further to our earlier report, and according to The Times this morning, Transport for London (TfL) has now released details of cars and vans failing to meet the Ulez emission standard that entered the congestion charge zone in the past year.

The numbers are breath-taking. The pollution charge being introduced in London in April could affect almost 2.5 million cars and vans a year.

They include 1.5 million diesel cars registered before 2016, 500,000 petrol cars registered before 2006, 400,000 vans, 55,000 HGVs and 10,000 coaches.

TfL is trying to contact as many of the registered keepers of these vehicles as it can identify to warn them that they will be liable for the charge if they enter the zone from April 8. It is tracing them via their number plates, which were caught on congestion charge enforcement cameras, and then asking the DVLA to contact them.

And this only includes vehicles which have entered the present central London Congestion Charge Zone over the last 12 months. There will be other drivers who haven’t ventured in and are therefore in danger of not being warned.

from The Times

Sadiq Khan has previously said that fewer than 60,000 vehicles a day would pay the £12.50 ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) fee but has not made clear the total number of vehicles that might be affected by the charge at some point during the year.

The charge will apply at all times in central London and will be payable in addition to the £11.50 congestion charge.

An Opposition member of the London Assembly is quoted as saying

“People are blithely unaware of what is waiting for them and are suddenly going to find massive bills landing on their doormats. As many as 2.5 million people who have accessed the zone in recent months will be liable for charges they were really not expecting.”

He added the self-evident comment that “millions more drivers would be affected when the charging zone boundaries are extended to the north and south circular roads in October 2021”.

Note that licensed London Taxis are exempt, however old and polluting they are! Mr Mayor is clearly reluctant to provoke their famously combative owners. Though hopefully the older standard diesel models are progressively being replaced by electric vehicles.

Readers react

Speaking for many readers, perhaps, one of many comments appearing below The Times report reads

I live in central London. I have a well kept, appropriately serviced 11 year old diesel car….which for several years I was encouraged to purchase by the government of the day. My car has done 52,000 miles. It is used occasionally for short runs but mostly to exit London on long runs to visit family who live rurally and with poor public transport, the local train station at a distance of 12 miles. I am careful to service my car regularly. I am careful to drive it causing as little nuisance to others. How can cases such as mine be treated in the same way as the 18 taxis sitting outside Harrods waiting for fares, all with their engines running at approx 20:00 hrs this evening? How can it be appropriate that I am penalised in the same way as a Diesel engine that is used commercially for delivery for between 8 to 12 hours a day in and around central London? Of course, when I choose to change my car, I will look at the cleanest possible option. But whilst it is used occasionally and in good nick, why should I be subject to this draconian and patently unfair tax?”

Railton Road blocked

A water main failure has resulted in Railton Road being closed between Shakespeare Road and Milton Road.

Railton Road, between Milton Road & Shakespeare Road, 28 Nov 2018

However we’ve talked to the Thames Water repair team. They tell us that they expect the work to be completed and the road reopened by this evening.

Important road closures in Herne Hill

A sharp-eyed fellow member  of the Herne Hill Society (thank you, John) has spotted a very awkward programme of road closures just announced by Lambeth Council.

To facilitate repairs to the railway bridge, they  intend to make an Order the effect of which would be “to temporarily ban vehicles from entering in a northerly direction those lengths of Norwood Road and Half Moon Lane which
lie between the north-eastern side of Railton Road and the south-western side of Milkwood Road.”

The roads leading to and under the bridge, in other words.


Nightly, from 17 August. But thankfully, this is qualified.

The announcement says “The Order would come into force on 17th August 2018 and it would continue for a maximum duration of
4 months (to allow for contingencies) or until the works have been completed whichever is the sooner, although in practice it is anticipated that the Order would only have effect (1) from 10 pm on 17th August 2018 until 6 am on 21st August 2018 and (2) from 10 pm on 7th December 2018 until 6 am on 10th December 2018.

However …

If the works cannot be completed or carried out during these times the Order may also have effect at other times within the maximum period of 4 months.

Alternative routes when the road under the bridge is closed?

As we all know,there aren’t many convenient alternative routes if the road under the bridge is blocked.

Native Herne Hillians may work out some cunning plan, but public transport and transit traffic will be sent the long way round thus:

Alternative routes for vehicles affected by the above road closure would be available via

(a) Dulwich Road, Brixton Water Lane, Effra Road, St Matthew’s Road, Brixton Hill, Brixton Road (northwards), Stockwell Road, Stockwell Park Walk, Brixton Road (southwards), Gresham Road, Coldharbour Lane, Denmark Hill and Herne Hill; and

(b) Norwood Road, Christchurch Road, Hardel Rise, Tulse Hill, Effra Road, St Matthew’s Road, Brixton Hill, Brixton Road (northwards), Stockwell Road, Stockwell Park Walk, Brixton Road (southwards), Gresham Road, Coldharbour Lane, Denmark Hill and Herne Hill.

Chaos looms. Enjoy the scenic route. We have been warned !

Full text of Lambeth’s announcement here.