Thursday, 26 April 2018

Chobham Manor: The newest neighbourhood in the Olympic Park

The first residents of the Olympic Park moved into their homes in the East Village at the end of 2013, following over a year of it being converted from the Athletes village. Construction of the next phase of the residential development of the park, Chobham Manor, began in 2015. Located directly opposite the East Village, where the Basketball Arena and Athletes dining hall were in 2012, 75% of the homes in Chobham Manor will be designed for families with large townhouses, private gardens and green squares a dominant feature. The first three streets, Kieren Road and Peloton Avenue, linked by Villiers Gardens, opened in 2016

Google maps satellite view shows the recently opened streets as they were last year, accessible by motor traffic but not possible to use any of them as a through route
Peloton Avenue shortly after it opened in 2016
Unfortunately at the end of last year Peloton Avenue was extended south to link up with Honour Lea Avenue and it was a real shame to see the road was not 'filtered' so motor traffic could not use it as a through route.

The same spot as above this year, now with painted cycle lanes added
Peloton Avenue, running north to south through the western end of Chobham Manor, despite Chobham Manor already being surrounded by through roads on all four sides. A couple of bollards at the junction of Villiers Gardens would have ensured the new family homes could all still be accessible by motor vehicles but only people walking or cycling could use them as through routes, leading to a safer and quieter neighbourhood
A residential road through a new development in Delft in the Netherlands, motor vehicles can access every home but not use it as a through route, as it is filtered outside a childrens play area halfway long
A photo of the bottom section of Peloton Avenue, taken through the fence late last year

The same location this year, with painted cycle lanes which "END" shortly before Honour Lea Avenue
The painted cycle lanes are not very good at all, not wide enough to ride side by side in them, they are also located in the door zone of the car parking, with cars having to drive over them to park.

 A better layout would have been to simply close the road to through traffic instead

Families can now safely cycle through residential roads in De Beauvoir Town, recently closed to through traffic by Hackney Council. A shame Peloton Avenue was not designed like this from the start
At the southern end of the Peloton Avenue is Honour Lea Avenue, pictured below in 2012, weeks before the Olympic games, taken from google street view

and here was the same spot as above in 2014, with a new bidirectional cycle track built alongside it

Whilst this cycle track was a welcome feature of the newly reconstructed road it does not connect well at either end, becoming a shared footway and difficult to access from the park on the western end of the road. The cycle track is also only 2 metres wide, which would just about be adequate if it was intended to be used in only one direction but a bidirectional cycle track should ideally be twice the width of this

People cycling on this track in opposite directions can pass each other in single file but that isn't possible if people are riding side by side, as many friends will want to do, or parents with their children

Last year a cyclists dismount sign appeared on the track

For the construction of a new road, initially for works access but eventually to become Madison Way, linking Villiers Gardens with Honour Lea Avenue.

This new road cut through the track, with kerbs and tactile paving laid across the cycle track

Thankfully the workmen have recently returned, removed the kerbs and paving and the cycle track is now continuous across the junction, although a shame the footway isn't.

Give Way signage has been added to the road for traffic exiting Chobham Manor onto Honour Lea Avenue but for motor traffic entering Chobham Manor that is not the case, just a freestanding plastic "cyclists have priority" sign

With the same happening on Peloton avenue

Which can, and does, blow over in the wind

There is a sign warning drivers of cyclists on Honour Lea Avenue but it still isn't clear that this is for those turning left, certainly not as clear as the equivalent Dutch sign I've seen many times whilst cycling in the Netherlands

These signs also recently been installed on the exits of  the four closes on the other side of Honour Lea Avenue, warning people exiting to beware of cyclists, despite the fact that the cycle track runs on the opposite side of the carriageway. This is because Honour Lea Avenue will soon form part of Quietway 6 and bizarrely the budget will go on painted Q signs on the main carriageway, rather than upgrading the existing cycle track:

"Applying the LCDS levels of service street type matrix categorises Honour Lea Avenue into the local street category which does not require segregation. The existing two way track does not connect to cycle infrastructure at either end of it. Using the link for the quietway would restrict local access for the route therefore a preference for keeping the quietway on street has been agreed by Newham Council, TFL and Sustrans" 

This is despite the fact that Honour Lea Avenue is far from quiet, every time I have been here there is a high volume of traffic, including many lorries and vans. It absolutely is a main road and will only get busier over time. Note that this "quietway" also has a 30mph speed limit

Residents exiting Chobham Manor by bike are expected to cycle over the cycle track to then cycle on the road, among lorries travelling at 30mph, or quite often, faster

I'll continue to use the cycle track and ignore the "quietway" carriageway altogether, as I suspect most families on bikes will!

One of the negative aspects of the cycle track along Honour Lea Avenue has always been that people tend to walk on it, as there really wasn't anywhere else for them to walk on this side of the road. However wide as-yet-unopened pavements have recently constructed alongside, with greenery separating them from the cycle track

The pavements are very wide here so it is just a shame that the opportunity wasn't taken to widen the cycle track at the same time

With the pavement, cycle track and door zone buffer this is almost the perfect layout - if only the cycle track wasn't so narrow and didn't give up entirely at either end!

As for Madison Way, the new road running parallel to Peleton Avenue, the footway almost immediately gives way to the entrance to substantial car parking under the apartments. I think the paved area should have continued along here to give pedestrians priority

The same applies to "Weavers Row" slightly further along

Which only leads to a dozen garages for the townhouses and also links Peleton Avenue with Madison Way

before the Olympic games the southern loop of the Eastway cycle circuit used to pass through this very point
Villiers Gardens links Peleton Avenue, Kierin Road and Madison Way. It has a large green square with seating and a small children's play area, even thought the popular tumbling bay playground is less then 100 metres away

It's nice and I like that kids can play right outside their homes; I just wish the Peleton Avenue outside was closed to through traffic so kids could play in the street alongside too!

Although at least Villiers Gardens is closed at it's western end but I think they could have designed it in a way to allow people walking and cycling through, rather than just footway and trees

There are not many people living in Chobham Manor so far but judging by the removal lorries and cardboard in the recycling bins every weekend that is soon set to change. Construction of the rest of Chobham Manor continues alongside the recently completed area. If the legacy plans are to come to fruition and this neighbourhood is filled with families then I hope improvements do come to the roads and to walking and cycling provision. The families who will grow up here and call it home deserve to have infrastructure that allows them to be able to easily walk or cycle to local schools, shopping areas and parks in perfect safety. 

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