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Eastbound traffic on South Circular Road
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Posts: 122
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #1
20-11-2015 09:37 PM

Having lived in these parts for a long long time, I have the feeling that traffic going from Forest Hill to Catford is getting much worse, and afternoon congestion that used to start at around 4 to 4.30pm is now starting as early as 2.30pm.
Like many of you who need to travel to Catford or to Lewisham by road, whether driving or on a bus will know the horrendous congestion that occurs at Catford. There are two railways (and a river) to cross, several roads feeding traffic into this area, a variety of bus stops, a couple of no right turns, Wickes (lots of delivery vans), Halfords and so on.
Having looked at the Catford Green website (, I see there are going to be a total of 588 "stylish apartments" and no doubt some of those living here will own a car (several cars are shown in the rather spooky silent video on the website). Those cars (maybe 588, maybe a lot more, as some of these apartments have 3 bedrooms) are confined to the single road in the development and will need to come out into the Catford congestion area whenever the owners want to go to work, school, shopping or whatever).
Could this mean total gridlock at certain times of the day; maybe all day?
Have Transport for London, who are responsible for the South Circular Road, approved this situation?
And what about the deadly levels of air pollution caused by all this traffic that can't go anywhere: I see that nitrogen dioxide levels were pretty high in late October.

This post was last modified: 20-11-2015 09:40 PM by derbybill.

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Posts: 557
Joined: May 2010
Post: #2
21-11-2015 01:24 AM

Simply too many sets of traffic lights in Catfood. It seemed to me a backward step when they gave hogworts it's own set.

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Posts: 83
Joined: Jul 2008
Post: #3
23-11-2015 08:00 AM

Some real traffic planning failures cause most of those jams, unfortunately no traffic planner seems to have spotted them.

St.Dunstans - never used to allow cars to drop on its access road. About 10 years ago, they seemed to change that. Now, on a bad morning - cars can be solid on their "D" shaped road, then you'll get the paradox snarl up where arriving vehicles from the East are trying to turn right into the school, with a tailback of 8-10 cars. The lead vehicle trying to exit the school is trying to turn right onto the A205 and can't exit the school because of above mentioned tailback. Gridlock. Before long, vehicles are tailing back to the West on the A205 too, as they want to turn left into the school but can't. A205 stalled in both directions. Seen it, several times.
Unfortunately, the (lack of) quality of school run drivers (ahem) comes into play here and the exiting vehicle trying to turn right should recognise the problem and go left, but won't.
Solution - ban right turns into/from St.Dunstans, or make them close their access roads again. Little darlings could walk from drop offs on local residential roads, it won't kill them.

Another screw up - bus stops opposite each other by Catford Bridge station, with a permitted right turn from A205 into Doggett Road. All you need is a bus at the stop and someone alongside wanting to turn right and Westbound carriageway stops. Someone needs to stagger the bus stops or remove that right turn.

Ilegal right turns into/out of Wickes and Halfords. I think the traffic order is still defective there - there's no right turn into Wickes (Eastbound) but no prohibition into Halfords. Neither is well signed though and the principle of no right turn is correct and should apply to both.

Simple and obvious fixes.

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Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #4
23-11-2015 08:28 AM

Excellent summary, jollyrog, and probably worth emailing to TfL.

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Posts: 557
Joined: May 2010
Post: #5
23-11-2015 08:42 AM

Yes that agrees with my understanding of why it has become so very difficult to drive through catfood.

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Posts: 122
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #6
23-11-2015 11:33 AM

Yes thanks jollyrog, some useful ideas there.
I used to drive this way every morning and I knew that if I was there before about 8.10am I would have a clear run past St Dunstan's (going east).
Five minutes later and I would be in a queue of what we once called "Chelsea tractors", really big wide beasts, with one tiny child on the back seat and I just knew I would be very late for work.
With the vast green spaces that St D's has, I am surprised that their parents haven't demanded a better drop-off route, with an entrance and exit away from the Catford Chaos junction.
Definitely worth talking to TfL: the whole area needs a proper survey as I'm sure there are a few simple solutions like moving bus stops.

If money was no object then a whopping great bypass bridge is what's really needed.

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Posts: 294
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #7
04-12-2015 07:07 PM

I relayed Jollyrog's suggestions/complaints to TFL Roads and got the following back:

i) Stanstead Road (A205), SE6 - outside St.Dunstan's College

With regards to St. Dunstan’s College, I understand the issue and sympathise with your frustrations. On the college’s website it asks parents and students who use a car to get to school to park in named neighbouring roads so it appears they do not encourage use of the access road as a drop off area. However, our planners will contact the school and ascertain the reason for the change in use of their access road. We shall try to work with the school, and if required, help to manage their arrangements better. Please note that thee school has permitted private vehicle crossovers (or ‘dropped kerbs’), access to which cannot be banned.

You may note that we are also in the early stages of initiating a scheme at this location, which will investigate the operation of the highway near the college and around Catford Hill. Its aim will be improving traffic flow through the area. Proposals that might relieve delay, as well as issues of access into the college will be considered while this scheme is in development.

ii) Catford Road (A205) at Doggett Road, SE6

Our planners are familiar with the issue that you have raised at the intersection of Doggett Road with Catford Road. This is particularly complicated due to the close proximity of the railway stations and the need for bus passengers to alight here. The right turn is also necessary as it is the main connection to the side streets. The right turn also serves a bus route.

There is a feasibility study in this location part of which involves investigating if the eastbound bus stop might be relocated further east allowing the bus cage to be shortened. This will hopefully address the concerns you raised. Kindly be aware that this study is in early stages of development, and at this stage we cannot commit to any construction dates.

iii) Catford Road (A205) at the access to Halfords / Wickes stores, SE6.

The turning movements you describe into Wickes / Halfords access roads are correct. Due to the different restrictions and the close proximity of the access roads signage in this location is particularly difficult and can appear confusing. However it has been checked and adheres to standards.

Permitted turning movements form part of the conditions for any development. Unfortunately this cannot be easily amended in retrospect once permission for development has been granted, as is the case here. However, the study at Catford Hill mentioned in part one above includes this double access junction within its scope. Where possible, changes will be made to improve the situation.

Sounds like there is a scheme brewing which might help all three issues.

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Posts: 83
Joined: Jul 2008
Post: #8
04-12-2015 10:02 PM

Wow, thank you BarCar. Based on that response, I have to withdraw my comment that none of the Traffic Planners have identified the problems.

Perhaps I am in the wrong job... maybe I could be a Traffic Planner. Rofl

This post was last modified: 04-12-2015 10:02 PM by jollyrog.

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Posts: 122
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #9
05-12-2015 03:49 PM

Yes, thanks BarCar.
It does look like something is happening, but I wonder if there are any dates in mind (remember that London Mayor/Assembly elections are coming up next May).
I really do have concerns about the cars users (probably hundreds of them) entering or leaving the Catford Green development that could really bring Total Gridlock to the South Circular.

I will alert our local representative (Len Duvall, Assembly member for Greenwich & Lewisham): Email is

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Posts: 271
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #10
06-12-2015 10:39 AM

There have been several studies on the stretch from St Dunstan's to Plassy Road island as something needs to be done. TfL has said one day but not now and no money for about 40 years by my reckoning.
The original Catford Plan would have used the land currently reserved for rerouting of south circular (on Plassy Road, council car park, etc) hence TfL suddenly got a rocket up their rears and are now supposedly seriously looking into what to do with the south circular.

The solution around the centre of Catford should be relatively simple. The main problem is the railway bridge and river. It could be solved just would be rather expensive and as anyone who looked at TfLs grand review earlier in the year south east London just is not a priority. To date. The TfL study is at least 6 months overdue from when initially promised so wish some update would be given. Then Lewisham can get on with sorting out the Catford centre. As long as they keep the cat.

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Posts: 135
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #11
07-12-2015 02:43 PM

I have to drive through Catford to get to Eltham in rush hour on a fairly regular basis and have now tried most of the available options.

The traffic into Catford along the south circular is bad and is getting worse but I wonder how much difference a Catford only solution is going to make.

Once you have made it beyond the railway stations if you decide to continue East along the south circular the traffic is usually pretty bad until you reach the dual carriageway just before the junction with the A20.

So unless you can improve the A205 all the way to the Lee then there must be a risk that improvements at Catford are only going to funnel cars into the bottleneck more quickly.

If London continues to grow as projected I think the only realistic solution will be road pricing. We already carry trackers in our pocket (mobile phones) so linking them to car charging and number plate recognition must be fairly easy.

Of course I want to drive for free but driving but what's the point if it is quicker to walk?

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