TfL's planned 24/7 London bus lanes to increase speed and stop passengers 'walking instead'

London buses on a street with a bus lane in place
Transport for London wants to bring in an extra 19,000 metres of new bus lanes to run 24/7 -Credit:Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Transport for London has announced plans to introduce a host of safety and traffic measures to a busy road in Merton. St Helier Avenue had become notorious after a Deliveroo driver was killed on the road in 2021.

The plans centre around introducing 24/7 bus lanes on the busy corridor. These north and southbound lanes will cover the entire distance of the road from Morden Hall to Rose Hill roundabout. According to TfL “the additional 19,000 metres of new bus lane with 24/7 operation would allow buses to travel quickly and reliably along St Helier Avenue.”

These new lanes will replace the staggered offering that only operates at certain points along the road. Currently, motorists can expect a £160 fine for driving through a bus lane, however, this is discounted to £80 if paid within 14 days of issue.

Read more: The neighbourhood 'missing out' on Superloop 2 buses where people 'want the Tube instead'

St Helier Avenue
St Helier Avenue links Morden with the busy Rose Hill roundabout -Credit:Google Maps

TfL also wants to introduce two new traffic light-signalled pedestrian crossings along the road. These new crossings at Langdon Walk and Netley Gardens are intended to prevent pedestrians from crossing inappropriately at dangerous points in the road.

While the road is already classified as a red route, the new proposals plan to introduce more stringent double red lines. While single red lines permit stopping outside certain times, double red lines prohibit stopping at any time of the day.

Many residents living on the road have complained of traffic during peak times and have welcomed measures to improve traffic flow. One resident, Joy Land, who lives just off the road described rush hour traffic as solid.

Speaking to the local democracy reporting service (LDRS), she said: “The buses seem to move pretty freely for most of the time. There are times when the road gets solid, especially going toward Rose Hill, I guess at those times it would be better if the buses had free movement because that is what we are trying to use.”

A map showing the proposed changes to the St Helier Avenue bus lanes
A map showing the proposed changes to the St Helier Avenue bus lanes -Credit:Transport for London

Rabiaa El Atrach, a teacher who lives on the road, added: “It is very slow on the bus, so sometimes I just walk the long road instead, especially during the rush hours. I’m happy because I don’t have a car, but if you ask a driver they may have a different perspective.”

Motorist and pedestrian safety has been another driving force behind these new proposals. A young father lost his life on the road in 2021, while an 80-year-old resident was also seriously injured in a collision on the thoroughfare in November 2022.

These tragedies urged Merton Council to lobby for a 30mph speed limit to be introduced on the road. TfL agreed to cut the limit from 40mph to 30mph last October.

Residents believe the introduction of two new crossings will further improve safety on the multi-use road. Rabiaa told the LDRS: “We had lots of different accidents, lots of them with tragic consequences.

“I have seen cars race each other on that road, they think it is like a Formula One race track, I’ve seen it with my eyes.

“It is better though since the speed limit changed, but you have lots of people who still don’t respect that limit and drive very fast. Hopefully, these changes will help with the safety of children and family.”

Rabiaa went on to say: “I’ll be honest, sometimes I just cross where I shouldn’t be crossing. Lots of people do this, I don’t think there are enough [crossings]."

St Helier Avenue
Cllr Helena Dollimore with police on a speed watch in St Helier Avenue -Credit:Helena Dollimore

Joy shared this sentiment, saying: “There are a lot of people that wander across the road and I wish they put one at the bottom end by the St Helier roundabout. A lot of schoolchildren cross to get to alleyways that go to Langley Gardens.”

The proposals also indicate that changes to parking, loading restrictions, and bays will also take place. TfL also plans to extend the pavement at Connaught Gardens and Arras Avenue, whilst also improving waiting areas at the Rose Hill roundabout bust stop.

These changes form part of the Mayor of London’s wider plan to encourage Londoners towards sustainable modes of transport. In the official letter sent to residents, local consultation manager Andrew Miles outlined the context of the plans.

He said: "The Mayor’s Transport Strategy aims for 80 per cent of all trips to be made through sustainable modes by 2041. Bus lanes are open to buses, pedal cyclists, motorbikes, taxis, and patient transport vehicles.”

“The changes we propose also support London’s transition to Net Carbon Zero and support the Mayor’s ambition to eliminate fatal and serious injury collisions on London’s roads by 2041.”

Residents are encouraged to give their feedback on the proposals before June 26, 2024. TfL has not yet issued a date for when work will start on the plans.

Click here for more information. Here is a list of all the proposed changes:

  • Parking bay just after Boxley Road to be removed and replaced with double red lines in order to provide better benefits for buses

  • Footway buildout at Connaught Gardens provides more space for people walking and makes vehicles travel more slowly reducing risk of accidents occurring

  • New bus lane at Connaught Gardens bus stop allows buses to pull in and pull out efficiently

  • Footway buildout at Arras Avenue provides more space for pedestrians. Parking bay to be inset into the footway buildout

  • New traffic light-signalled crossing at Langdon Walk, providing point for crossing St Helier Avenue safely

  • New traffic light-signalled crossing at Netley Gardens, providing point for crossing St Helier Avenue safely

  • Cycle track realigned at Langdon Walk to enable creation of new traffic-signalled safe crossing point

  • Shared use area created for people walking and cycling at Netley Gardens to enable creation of new traffic-signalled safe crossing point

  • More double red lines along St Helier Avenue increase restrictions and make buses run more reliably more frequently

  • Buses suffer less delays due to parking restrictions preventing other vehicles blocking their travel on St Helier Avenue

  • 1600m of new bus lane with 24/7 operation allows buses to proceed quickly and reliably along St Helier Avenue

  • Footway built out at Rose Hill Roundabout bus stop increases waiting space for bus users and prevents situations where buses cannot pull out into traffic to continue journeys.

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