Concerned about improving the appearance of their London Borough, members of Lewisham Council decided to instruct their officers to instigate a de-cluttering programme that would set out to rationalise, and if necessary remove, some of the street furniture that had accumulated in three trial locations.
Taking out unnecessary guardrailing was high on their agenda and they designated three sites where such action could be considered. Rather than simply promote a blanket removal of all guardrailing in these areas, Lewisham chose to use engineering experience to assess the specific areas and produce comprehensive reports on individual situations.
Lewisham Council chose to work with TMS and, following in-depth site investigations, a series of proposals were developed. The proposals sought to rationalise the removal of unnecessary guardrailing set against the need to retain a safe environment for all the disparate groups of road users.
Railings were recommended for retention on Trieff kerbing, which had been put in place to assist surface water drainage, but which could become trip hazards for the visually impaired, if not protected. Railings were to stay in place outside school entrances, the need for which was confirmed following discussions with School Crossing Patrols, etc. Some railings were still needed to protect pedestrians at crossings.
In some locations railings had become anchoring points for Recycling Bins. The railings could be removed but the need for other means of fixing these facilities had to be considered. At one Railway Station removing guardrailing would have resulted in scores of cyclists being left without secure places to lock their cycles. More cycle racks would be required before the railings could be removed to cater for and encourage the use of cycles as part of the multi-modal trips that were taking place.
Studying the collision and casualty data in the three areas, highlighted other issues that perhaps additional pedestrian guardrailing may be needed to solve.
Following a report that recommended a decision to move forward to the next stage of the process, the implementation of the recommendations in the Ladywell area of the Borough, Deputy Mayor Heidi Alexander commented
"This has been a really worthwhile exercise. We are conscious that local residents and traders wish to see their local environment improved but we are also aware that we have a duty of care to all other groups of road users. Using professional expertise to identify sections of railings that could safely be removed was the only real way forward and we will also be carefully monitoring the outcome of our trial sites. We want Lewisham to be both a pleasant and a safe place to live and work in."