Cllr Ian Wingfield with members of the ofo team
200 of ofo’s yellow bikes have appeared across Southwark
Some of mobike’s fleet in Deal Porter Square

350 new bicycles for hire have appeared on the streets of Southwark this week, with many of them in SE16.

Unlike TfL’s Santander Cycles (aka ‘Boris bikes’), Mobike and ofo bikes can be hired and parked anywhere, not just at designated docking stations.

Although Mobike and ofo bikes operate across the borough, the initial launch has been focussed on Rotherhithe and Camberwell, two areas beyond the reach of the Santander Cycles scheme.

The two rival firms joined forces for a launch event in Deal Porter Square at Canada Water on Monday morning.

Mobike has brought 150 bikes to Southwark whilst ofo has launched with 200 bikes. Both firms charge 50p for half an hour’s use. Bikes can be unlocked using iOS and Android apps.

Southwark Labour’s 2014 manifesto included a pledge to “work with the Mayor to extend Bike
Hire across the borough” and this latest initiative comes less than two months before the next local elections.

Oddly, the council’s own performance report for 2014/15 to 2017/18 – approved by cabinet this week – says that “We continue to work with TfL and other partners to extend the bike hire scheme to more parts of Southwark, with plans to extend the scheme from Rotherhithe to Peckham announced this year.”

However, no announcement of any TfL-backed bike hire expansion in Southwark has yet been made.

We asked Cllr Ian Wingfield – Southwark’s cabinet member for environment and the public realm – whether the council had given up on bringing Santander Cycles to SE16 at Monday’s launch event. Hear his answer here:

Up to 6,500 vehicles a day could be breaking the width restrictions in the Rotherhithe Tunnel, according to Transport for London. Around 30,000 vehicles use the tunnel each day.

TfL this week wrote to local people reminding them that vehicles more than two metres (six foot six inches) wide are not permitted through the Rotherhithe Tunnel.

Wide vehicles, generally vans or bigger, were banned from the tunnel in 2012.

Glynn Barton, TfL’s Director of Network Management, said: “These restrictions are in place for very important reasons. This tunnel is more than a century old and was not designed for these types of vehicle so vans and wider vehicles risk colliding inside it, increasing road danger and disruption in the area.

“We brought these restrictions in six years ago and we are reminding Londoners that they are there and why they are so important.”

TfL has identified that up to 6,500 vehicles wider than the restrictions could be entering the tunnel every day, despite the signage on all approaches highlighting the restrictions.

Vehicles that use the tunnel illegally risk receiving a fine of £50 or prosecution.

Drivers restricted from the Rotherhithe Tunnel should use Tower Bridge or the Blackwall Tunnel – both of which are outside of the Congestion Charge.

The current long-term gas works in Lower Road will be suspended between Monday 26 February and Monday 5 March whilst the road is reinstated for ‘The Big Half’ marathon on Sunday 4 March.

“It is very difficult at this stage to say what phase of our work we will be at when we come to suspend, because we are currently experiencing a number of engineering difficulties that are causing some delays,” said Dan Edwards of Southern Gas Networks.

“We are doing all we can to overcome these as quickly and safely as possible, however as a result we are running slightly behind schedule.

“We will still be working extended hours to complete our work as safely and quickly as possible.

“We are mindful of those people who live in the area, and will try to keep noisy activity to a minimum where possible.”

The Night Overground service on the East London line will be expanded next weekend as services extend north to Canonbury and Highbury & Islington stations from Friday 23 February.

The new service will link the Night Overground to the overnight service on Victoria line for the first time .

The Night Overground has run on Friday and Saturday nights between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate since December last year.

TfL says that already more than 35,000 journeys have been made on the route.

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Following our hugely successful launch of the Night Tube, I’m delighted that we will be able to extend the Night Overground service to help even more Londoners.

“This extension will connect the Night Overground to the Night Tube. These night-time services are providing a huge boost to our economy and a safe and reliable way for people to travel across the capital, helping all those working hard during the night or out enjoying everything the capital’s nightlife has to offer.”

Dr Will Norman

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, last month announced six new cycle routes including a new link from Rotherhithe to Peckham.

City Hall says design work will begin immediately but it could take up to five years for the plans to come to fruition.

One of the six proposals is a 4km route which would link Canada Water and Surrey Quays with Peckham and connect up other cycling routes such as Quietway 1 and the proposed Cycle Superhighway 4.

Dr Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “High-quality cycling infrastructure cannot simply be an option available to a minority of Londoners, and our new Strategic Cycling Analysis shows that there is huge potential for getting more people to cycle all across the city.

“Backed up by the Mayor’s record investment, we’re working in close collaboration with London boroughs to design six new cycle routes that would connect key town centres, join up existing cycle infrastructure, and start to create a genuinely pan-London network of cycle routes accessible to millions more Londoners.”

News from Southern Gas Networks:

“We’re writing to make you aware of our forthcoming upgrade of our gas network in Lower Road, Rotherhithe. This essential work involves the replacement of old metal gas mains with new plastic pipe to ensure we continue to provide a safe and reliable gas supply to the local area. Our contractor Forefront Utilities will undertake this work on our behalf.

“So that we can minimise disruption, we have carefully consulted and planned our works in partnership with London Borough of Southwark Council. Our project will start on Monday 8 January and last approximately 13 weeks.

“We’ll be working in Lower Road in four phases. To ensure everyone’s safety throughout all four phases we will be closing one northbound lane of Lower Road and we need to suspend some bus stops to maintain traffic flow and minimise disruption. Details of where we’ll be working and our lane closure are set out below:

  • Phase 1 – approx. 3 weeks – On Monday 8 January we’ll start work in Lower Road opposite 1 to 12, Wells House. Our northbound lane closure will be between 64 Lower Road and Helen Peele Cottages
  • Phase 2 – approx. 3 weeks – Progressing south on Lower Road we’ll be working between numbers 54 and 68. Our northbound lane closure will be from outside the Everyone Active Sports centre to 54 Lower Road
  • Phase 3 – approx. 3 weeks – We’ll continue our work on Lower Road, outside the Everyone Active Sports centre. Our northbound lane closure remains outside the Everyone Active Sports centre but is now only to 66 Lower Road
  • Phase 4 – approx. 4 weeks – For phase 4 we will be working at the junction of Ann Moss way and outside St Olave’s House Nursing Home. Our northbound lane closure will be in place from 54 Lower Road to the junction of Ann Moss Way. We will also be closing the bus lane between the junction of Ann Moss Way and Rotherhithe Free Church. There will be no left turn into Ann Moss Way from Lower Road and we will have a signed diversion in place. We will also be suspending some parking in Ann Moss Way.

“We will be working extended hours to complete our work as safely and quickly as possible. We are mindful of those people who live in the area, and will try to keep noisy activity to a minimum where possible.

“All businesses in the local area will remain open as usual. We do have a compensation scheme in place for local businesses which suffer a genuine loss of trade because of our work. Packs are available from our website, sgn.co.uk, via the Publications section.

“I understand that roadworks can be frustrating. However, the new plastic pipe has a minimum lifespan of 80 years. This means that when the work is complete, Rotherhithe residents will continue to enjoy the benefits of a safe and reliable gas supply for years to come.”

Quietway 14 is a back-street cycle route between Blackfriars Road and Deptford – and Monday is your last chance to comment on the Canada Water to South Dock section, including:

  • Redriff Road underpass – public realm improvements and improve lighting.
  • Albion Footbridge – widening the ramp and the bridge, and improving the pavement surface.
  • New South Dock Lock Movable Bridge – a new bridge to improve walking and cycling connectivity to Lewisham whilst maintaining full boat access to South Dock Marina.

See the full details on the Southwark Council consultations hub.

Transport for London claims that recent changes to the road layout on the southern approach to the Rotherhithe Tunnel has had the effect of cutting journey times for buses along Jamaica Road by 2.5 minutes.

In his report to last week’s board meeting, TfL commissioner Mike Brown wrote: “We have delivered more than 80 of our planned 170 bus priority schemes for 2017-18 across 18 London boroughs, both on our roads and borough road networks.

“One such scheme is the creation of an extra lane on the northbound approach to Rotherhithe Tunnel, which is estimated to deliver 2.5 minutes of journey time saving per bus in both directions.

“These schemes have provided aggregated bus journey time savings of more than one hour.”

At present, the Jubilee line runs 30 trains an hour at the busiest times.

Under now cancelled plans to buy extra trains, Tube bosses hoped to reach 34 or 36 trains an hour.

Next May TfL will extend the period during which the highest frequency operates from one hour to two.

Without extra trains in the fleet, it is now hoped to reach 31 or 32 trains an hour in 2019.

Learn more by watching this video of the London Assembly transport committee’s session this morning:

Transport for London has launched a public consultation on plans for a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists across the Thames from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf.

Two possible landing points on the Rotherhithe side have been presented: Nelson Dock and Durand’s Wharf.

TfL says: “Based on the studies that we have carried out so far, we propose a navigable bridge as our preferred option for a river crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf. Whilst there is a strong case for providing a river crossing, we do not wish to prevent the continued use of the River Thames for the transport of people and goods.”

Val Shawcross, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “It’s great news that we’ve started the formal process for a new walking and cycling crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf. This area of east London has seen huge growth in recent years, and our desire for a dedicated crossing for cyclists and pedestrians shows our real commitment to greener forms of transport across London.

“It will provide vital new connections to work, shopping and leisure facilities for thousands of local residents and provide a new route for commuters into Canary Wharf. We now want everyone to have their say before we outline further details of how we can make this ambition a reality.”

Full details of the consultation – which runs till 8 January 2018 – can be found here.

TfL is holding public exhibitions in SE16 on Saturday 18 November and Thursday 23 November.