We asked local residents and businesses to write to us and tell us their stories, for us to share with councillors, MPs and other members of the public. We don’t want to speak for people. We don’t tell people what they can and can’t do. Instead, we invite people speak for themselves. Everyone has different needs and abilities, and everyone needs to have their voice heard. Here are some of the stories we received, as told to us.
These stories were sent to us before the council made changes on the 9th November 2020, however most are still very relevant, as many issues relate to significantly extended journey times due to diversions and congestion caused by displaced traffic.
Margaret, a cancer sufferer who lives inside the LTN
We have lived in our road for over 50 years & love our home but sadly the road closures have caused so much stress in our lives that we have actually thought about moving.
Due to serious health problems plus being in our seventies & eighties we need our car. I attend Guy’s hospital for cancer treatment & before the virus could be dropped to the Station which is 5 minutes from us. Now we are cut off & will have to add to the congestion on already congested roads.
There are no words to describe the added stress that these dreadful road closers are causing to so many people!
Jill, in her late 70s, takes her husband to hospital appointments
The closure of the local roads is putting huge pressure on the surrounding roads. I will be trying to get my 77 year old husband to hospital in Lewisham shortly. There is no direct bus route. I used to drive, a 5 minute Journey. Now it can take 35/40 minutes.
I fail to see how this and other small local journeys will cut pollution when we are all forced down Lee High road. Not to mention fumes for the residents there.
If cameras could be rush hours only and w/e off this would help hugely.
The barriers have divided the local community. Not all of us can walk or take up cycling !
David, drives an accessible mini-bus
As a driver of an accessible minibus it has meant our passengers have to spend longer on the bus as a lot of the time we are stuck in gridlock. It affects the service we are trying to provide for those that have already been disproportionately affected by the current crisis.
Linda & Roger are in their 70s and live inside the LTN
I have a broken wrist and cannot cycle for months. My father cannot walk long distances. We have no guarantee of getting on a bus, so we are literally stuck with where we can walk to.
All taxis have put up their prices as they are stuck in traffic much longer than before. So, this system is great if you are healthy and live in an affluent quiet road but totally rubbish for disabled and disadvantaged. It could have been done after Covid, when we could use busses again…
We are often effectively kettled within the LTN. We are in a very good position to monitor traffic on the South Circular. It has been getting steadily worse since the introduction of the LTN. We have to drive to Putney, using the South Circular, on 3 days a week. We have been doing this for the last 3 months, since my daughter’s maternity leave ended, in order to help care for our baby grandson. Without the pandemic we would travel by train, as we always did, but we are 70 and cannot risk it.
We always try to avoid peak times/rush hours. In normal times, pre LTN, the journey took 50 minutes. In this year’s school holidays it usually took an extra 10 to 20 minutes. Now that schools are back and furlough is ending, it routinely takes an extra 35 to 50 minutes. 30 to 45 minutes of that is spent in Lewisham, what used to be 5 minutes from home. It doesn’t matter which route we choose – via Lewisham Town Centre or Brownhill Road.
One Friday at 10 am it took ages to get out of the LTN onto Burnt Ash Road. We were kettled. Traffic was jammed solid in both directions. I tried 3 potential exits from the LTN, 3 point turning to try to get out. On our return journey last Friday we left Putney at 7pm. At 7.55pm we entered Brownhill Road. At 8.45pm we got home.
To make matters worse, we saw 2 police vehicles and 3 ambulances on blue lights, presumably responding to a big incident, (NB – not connected with the hold up), struggling to get down the middle of Brownhill Road.
To the council: please don’t assume everyone within the LTN is going to “fight tooth and nail” to keep the current LTN, as you say in your response to LBL’s latest letter drop. There was very significant local concern well before the pandemic, about the proposed Healthy Neighbourhood arrangements, evidenced through comments at the Lee Green Assembly, a petition to LBL, and feedback from residents of the current LTN at the drop in session about the Healthy Neighbourhood Scheme held at the Good Shepherd Church. The LTN is basically the Healthy Neighbourhood Scheme, renamed.
Jo, lives inside the LTN but cares for her 90 year old mother in Bexley
I am incensed by the ridiculous measures that TFL and the local council are going to.
Shutting Dermody Road and Leahurst Road mean that there is no way across to Lee High Road without adding 4 miles to my journey, using extra fuel and polluting the neighbourhood.
All for the few cyclists that may, but probably won’t, use the new cycle paths. Trying to push people onto bicycles is fine for people who are fit and healthy, however, it is impossible for me.
My main journey is to Bexley to look after my 90 year old mother – I can’t do that on a bike, or a bus as I have to take her to hospital check ups or to the Doctors, it just isn’t practical for real life.
I am being boxed into my street with no way out. I am going to have to move elsewhere, just because of road schemes in my area. I wonder if the council have a grant that I could apply for to cover my moving costs
I would love to buy an electric car, but there are no charging points locally, and I can’t guarantee parking outside my house, and putting a cable across the path is a hazard, so isn’t a viable option.
Surely pushing people onto public transport is the last thing we need at the moment, how can they claim it is for Covid19?
I feel completely impotent, frustrated and depressed.
Martin, retired with health issues which means he depends on his car
From our observations and personal experiences, the new road closures at Dermody and Ennersdale Roads, have been a noticeable hindrance to the traffic flow and added to daily car journey times. Dermody Rd is not heavily populated on either side and outside normal commuting time the traffic flow is not excessive. It is an important link road for residents. Being retired and on heavy medication we cannot risk travel by public transport – our only option has to be via car. We now find ourselves adding to congestion and local journey times are doubled.
Annie, a disabled driver who lives just outside the LTN
I find this whole scheme was introduced under the covid-19 before it could be thought out properly. As a disabled driver, with a blue badge I now find I cannot get to the other side of Hither Green, where my chemist is and the few parking bays left are. It has destroyed the local community. The other side of Hither Green would like to develop a Plaza in their quiet, low traffic roads. We on the other hand have to suffer from all the traffic displaced by this new scheme.
Christine, a blue badge holder living just outside the LTN
This has made it hell for me. I’m a blue badge holder so public transport and cycling are not an option for me or my 89yo mother. Even if Dermody Road or Ennersdale Road was opened it would make my journeys so much easier. But now, there are cycle lanes on Lewisham High Street where the old swimming baths were and in Molesworth Street.
Why do the cyclists need their own lane where the old swimming baths were??? Why couldn’t they use the bus lane??? As for Molesworth Street neither police, fire brigade or ambulance will be able to get past the traffic at peak times now that two lanes are now one dark lane and one cycle lane, even though there is already a cycle lane on the pavement.
I live on off Brownhill Road. I gave up smoking two years ago because of my asthma but because of the increased traffic on Brownhill Road, I now have to use my inhalers again. God knows what my health would have been like if I hadn’t given up smoking.
I have not had a single letter about these changes that have been rushed in under COVID 19, as if these changes would stop the spread – hah, it was just an excuse. At the point these changes were implemented, everybody was in lockdown. Why were no readings taken before??? Any readings now have nothing to be compared to. ITS A FARCE.
Some roads are being monitored to check the traffic changes but not the arterial roads like the A205 Brownhill Road which most of the time is just a slow moving car park.
I don’t mean to rant, but it’s got to the point that if I want to take my autistic son to Greenwich Park to feed the birds, I either spend an hour going up Brownhill Road or have to travel through Lewisham which is now a nightmare.
I have heard that this is a temporary measure which will be reviewed, but doubt that it will change. A small area will benefit from the LTN and a much larger area will suffer. A lot of disabled people are actively being discriminated against because of these changes.
Lynn, suffers from disabilities and lives in Blackheath
Don’t forget South Row Blackheath where this all started from. I suffer disabilities. My car is my lifeline (I wish it wasn’t). It keeps me independent and stops me from becoming housebound, relying on others!
When you closed south row I was unable to get to my home at all. Because our council estate is in the ‘bosom’ of the wealthy Blackheath Park Road and Morden Road. As you must be aware of the gated system they use, well the gates were closed so the was no alternative route left to me. I live just off Pond Road. I can tell you when I returned home to find these unconsulted Road closures I was livid. I was spitting feathers. Not only but also it took me 3/4 of an hour to go the route you were trying to channel me down, Wymss Road. This too was a nightmare as it became gridlocked immediately as it only allows for one vehicle to move in one direction at a time.
All in all, it was chaotic to say the least. It was badly thought out. You used the virus as a means to push through plans that you knew would be unpopular. With consultation you would have ironed out so many of these issues as the local people know the local roads the best. And, what about the emergency services. I witnessed a fire engine stuck at the bollards on a call out another sector that had no idea of your plans. You say the lanes are for cyclists and pedestrians, well let me tell you the cyclists are becoming ever obnoxious and they think they have right of way. When I’ve managed a walk I have received abuse from them on a couple of occasions shouting to me to move out of the way. I can’t repeat what I said apart from telling them to invest in a bell because I do not have eyes in the back of my head. Others come steaming towards you quite adamant they are not going to go around you.
Now I can’t move fast and I have found it all a bit too much so now I stay away from the heath. Honestly I don’t feel these paths are for pedestrians anymore. You have created an us and them scenario. They think they are ‘up there’ and motorists are ‘scum’. You can tell that by the way they talk to you on Nextdoor. They don’t care if you’re disabled and nor does Lewisham Council. If you go ahead with this I will be trapped as I don’t qualify for a gate pass. I think you’d need to do something with number plate recognition. When I think of all the people still homeless and on your housing waiting list and this is your priority I’m disgusted.
Pat, suffers from epilepsy, and osteoarthritis in both knees
Here is my depressing account ,which will be echoed by many I am sure.
The implementation of the LTN has effectively segregated me from my community. Segregation is the new inclusivity as far as Lewisham Council is concerned.
As someone who has osteoarthritis in both knees and Epilepsy, this extremist push to punish car owners and get the public on bikes or walk is both damaging to my health and placing greater constraints on me. As a person who lives with Epilepsy, riding a bike would be extremely foolhardy and certainly not advisable.
I used to shop in Sainsbury’s Lee because it was convenient to get into the car for a short trip to do a weekly shop (my husband drives as people with Epilepsy who do not meet certain DVLA conditions cannot do so, of which I am one).
However due to the 24hr bus lane and the busy and dangerous right turn into Burnt Ash Road, not to mention traffic jams to get there, we now go to Sainsbury’s in Charlton
Thus the LTN has not decreased either our car journey or emissions as we are travelling further to shop.
I cannot walk to the shops in Hither Green and support them as it is difficult for me to carry things because of the impact on my knees. If we decide to drive there, are we going to be engulfed in one big traffic jam on Burnt Ash Road before we can turn in to get to these shops? I’m afraid it isn’t worth the risk.
Also as we head into the end of British Summer Time and move towards darker nights, I am very concerned that Hither Green Station and the area around it will encourage crime and muggings. These streets will be very quiet and deserted and as a result of these ill thought out and sneakily imposed road closures, getting my husband to pick me up from the station will take longer and increase my risk of being a victim of crime. So Hither Green Station will also be a no go area in the dark for me.
It is also a common feature to see people cycling and using a scooter to ride on the pavement on my street. I thought the roads in this area had been closed to allow these ‘special people’ to travel in safety on them not the pavements?!
As you can see my travelling opportunities in my immediate community has become very small and depressing , thanks to the LTN.
Lewisham Council, far from being a Council that champions equality amongst all its residents, favours the chosen few i.e the able bodied and is quite happy to damn the vulnerable, those with mobility / health issues, and the elderly to hell.
We aren’t valued and we certainly don’t count. Welcome to my world Lewisham Council.
Yvonne, lives just outside the LTN with her sister who has health issues
Where I live has been cut off from the other side where my doctors surgery is . Traffic is so horrendous need to leave an hour earlier for an appointment due to this. Traffic has all been pushed to Hither Green Lane , SpringBank and Wellmeadow this is not decreasing pollution just pushing it from one area to another in fact due to traffic queues surely creating more. Also some drivers are driving more dangerously such as driving along the wrong side of the road in order to try and move along the queue.
My sister cannot physically walk very far due to health concerns and cannot cycle we rely on our car ,we do not use it every day just when required due to more traffic being pushed on our roads her Asthma is causing a problem so where is the healthy neighbourhood helping here ?
Should the government TFL perhaps look at increasing the age that anyone can start driving to try and reduce cars going on the road and maybe make electric cars more affordable ?
All this extra stress is not helping mental health .
Tracy, a care worker who lives inside the LTN
I was actually not opposed to the scheme initially, however a very short journey which would take 10 to 12 minutes in traffic to my elderly clients is now a 50 minute heavy traffic stressful journey, that’s nearly 2 hours there and back to Catford/ Downham. These closures for residents are absolutely hideous.
The bulk of the traffic now shifted onto main roads which continuously have burst pipes, road works , faulty lights etc are struggling and it’s not even heavy rainfall yet when these start to erupt onto our roads, especially down by Lewisham clock tower.
I sat outside Lewisham hospital to the Lewisham roundabout for 25 minutes and I knew if I turned right my old road plan I would be home in 5 minutes, but 40 minutes later I’m home.. Horrendous
Stories are as provided and are only edited for style or to remove identifying information.