Friday, 12 June 2020

Covid 19 emergency response measures: Permeable filter at Dulwich Village junction

The Dulwich and Herne Hill Safe Routes to School group supports the creation of a permeable filter at Dulwich Village junction as part of Southwark Council’s Covid 19 emergency response measures. This action is supported by all of our schools. 


The Our Healthy Streets Dulwich engagement ran for 12 months and comprised of three phases. It was one of the largest and most extensive consultations ever in Southwark.

The OHS engagement demonstrated widespread support for a holistic and radical approach to traffic reduction in our area.

The idea of a permeable filter at the junction arose from the consensus that traffic should be reduced (phase 1), the support for radical solutions (phase 2) and specific support for a permeable filter (phase 3).

The number of parents driving children to school over the last five years has decreased overall. The amount of traffic in our area has increased.

There is no solution to the saturation of the Dulwich Village junction which retains the current five ‘arms’ of traffic. All three pedestrian crossings on the east side are dangerous.

Our schools comprise 10% of Southwark schools but over 30% of Southwark’s Gold Medal travel plans. Our commitment to encouraging active travel to and from school continues. However, increased active travel is enabled by safe infrastructure.

The current context:

Streets comprise up to 80% of public space. Children have a right to safe public space and safe air.

National and London government and TfL are calling for proposals to reduce traffic and air pollution and to enable active travel in response to Covid 19 and the necessary reduction in public transport capacity. Safe routes to school and school streets are included in these aims.

This approach builds on past direction including TfL Healthy Streets, Liveable Neighbourhoods, Walking Action Plan, Vision Zero and Healthy Streets for London as well as the Mayor’s Making London Child Friendly and Southwark’s Movement Plan.

The majority of households in Southwark have no access to a car.

OHS Dulwich is on hold for the foreseeable future.

Low traffic neighbourhoods will continue to be implemented around us.

TfL has experienced a catastrophic loss of revenue due to the collapse of travel on public transport and of advertising revenue.

As a condition of the central government TfL Covid 19 subsidy, TfL has been required to end free travel for children. This is being vigorously contested by the Mayor and TfL at the moment.

TfL government funding is only guaranteed until October after which there could be serious shortfalls in all areas.

Speeding and severe speeding have increased on London roads during lockdown.

Prior to lockdown, 60% of journeys by car across the capital were under 2.5 miles. With reduction in public transport capacity, TfL estimates that if nothing is done to enable active travel, car journeys could double in central London and more than double in outer London where car use is higher. Some of the above journeys must be walked or cycled to prevent gridlock.

Before lockdown only approximately 20% of children got sufficient exercise.

Our streets must be made safe for living with an ongoing respiratory pandemic. Steps to this end include keeping air pollution down and enabling physical distancing.

Reasons for support:

Air pollution is implicated in the spread, severity and mortality rate of Covid 19.

Walking, cycling and scooting mitigate against some of the conditions which make Covid 19 lethal, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. 

Lockdown has demonstrated that when vehicle traffic is reduced, more families will walk and cycle.

Lockdown has demonstrated that a reduction in vehicle traffic leads to a reduction in air pollution.

There are three dangerous crossings at the junction which are important pedestrian desire lines for school children. The permeable filter makes the crossings safe.

There is currently insufficient space for physical distancing at the junction during the school run.

We recognise that no scheme is perfect and that there are currently insufficient funds to implement a full scheme.

The risks of doing nothing are higher than the risks of imperfect or partial measures.

The future:

We have asked Southwark to monitor and review the impact of the closure so that measures can be introduced to mitigate any negative impact and build on positive results to create a network of safe routes to school.

We have made suggestions to Southwark about what such a network would look like.