Traffic congestion in Worcester Park

The traffic along Central Road in Worcester Park (A2043) has long been a subject for discussion and in recent years the consequent pollution has also crept into conversations. As the subject has cropped up a few times lately, in conversation and on the internet, I thought it was worth posting an expanded version of a recent reply I gave.

I’ve lived within sight of Central Road for around 30 years and the amount of traffic has always been a problem with no simple solution. The problem has been there regardless of the colour of the councils responsible for the area and regardless of who is at the helm of the Greater London Authority or UK Government.

Everyone has their own views on the cause of the traffic, with Green Lane seeming the most popular target. Green Lane definitely adds to the volume of traffic heading towards the A3 but I regularly check traffic flows when Central Road is particularly congested and get the impression the worst problems are caused by a tailback from issues on the A3 and/or in the area of The Fountain roundabout in New Malden.

In recent years the traffic lights in Worcester Park have been linked using a system called ‘Scoot’ which synchronises the phases across multiple sets. This helps to keep the traffic moving by reducing unnecessary delay at traffic lights but can’t solve the problem of too many vehicles.

A couple of weeks ago I met with Sutton Council officers and councillors from Worcester Park and Nonsuch wards and walked along Central Road while we observed issues and discussed possible improvements. Some changes are being considered and we hope to arrange joint discussions with Kingston Council to allow us to look at the whole North Cheam to New Malden corridor more holistically. In reality current options are only going to help a little, not solve the problem.

Some of my thoughts for consideration:

  • Central Road is an A road that feeds the major A3 red route and the shopping and business centres of Kingston.
  • Worcester Park has a high level of car ownership when compared with the rest of the London Borough of Sutton.
  • The GLA requires councils to build more residential properties. A lot of these new residents will have cars and will add to the problem.
  • The road space available through Worcester Park to the A3 and beyond is unlikely to increase.
  • Changes made over the years and currently being considered won’t stop Central Road being congested at peak times.
  • A lot of complaints about traffic are from drivers stuck in the queue. They don’t seem to consider they are part of the problem.
  • Buses through Worcester Park can be unreliable during the morning peak. As buses sit in the queue the problem for bus travellers is then made worse as buses are turned short at, typically, North Cheam or New Malden. Bus lanes would be good but there are few places where there is enough road width.
  • Unless we change our transport habits the number of vehicles trying to use Central Road will only increase. Consider walking or cycling for all or part of your journey, it can be quicker and if you keep off the main roads it will be healthier.
  • Some mornings there is almost no traffic in Central Road! Traffic levels are always lower during school holidays but sometimes it is strangely quiet during term times. Sadly these times are an exception.

Any suggestions you might have for improvements to the traffic flow and levels will be gratefully received.