TfL: 'It's madness' - pole in middle of Bromley Council cycle lane

The utilities pole is in the middle of a TfL-funded cycle lane in Orpington, Bromley.
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South London residents have been left bemused by a utility pole in the middle of a cycle lane on a main road.

The cycle lane on Crofton Road, Orpington, was built after being approved by Bromley Council in 2018.

Michael O’Donnell, 55, said the path is rarely used and was speechless when he saw the pole.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “My friend lives up in the top end. It’s madness, they spent God knows how much money building it.”

He added: “He comes down here every day to the station and he always says it’s a complete nightmare. They’ve made a complete balls-up of it.”

Michael O’Donnell, 55, was speechless when he saw the pole. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)Michael O’Donnell, 55, was speechless when he saw the pole. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)
Michael O’Donnell, 55, was speechless when he saw the pole. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)

Bromley Council documents from 2018 said the cost to deliver the cycle lane on Crofton Road was £673,000, with the money being made available by Transport for London (TfL).

Several councillors raised concerns about the scheme before it was built, arguing there was no proof of a demand for the path and it was not a good use of taxpayers’ money.

“It’s probably not the safest idea…" said Gabi Paplauskaite, with a degree of understatement. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)“It’s probably not the safest idea…" said Gabi Paplauskaite, with a degree of understatement. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)
“It’s probably not the safest idea…" said Gabi Paplauskaite, with a degree of understatement. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)

The council proceeded with the project, saying it would encourage cycling and that the funds from TfL would be lost if they were not used.

Gabi Paplauskaite, 20, said she previously used the cycle lane for her job, but that she has not seen anyone on it since the pole appeared.

She said: “It’s probably not the safest idea… To be honest, I think it was a waste because they did it two years ago, or something, and they’ve redone it and it looks exactly the same."

Tim Webb, 66, said he noticed the problem three weeks ago and that the pole wasn’t originally in the cycle lane.

Crofton Road was recently widened by Bromley Council, at a cost of £77,000, to resolve traffic issues in the area, according to council documents from November 2022.

Mr Webb said he felt the work was rushed and the council should have spent more time planning the solution.

Tim Webb, 66, spotted the problematic pole in the middle of a TfL funded cycle lane. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)Tim Webb, 66, spotted the problematic pole in the middle of a TfL funded cycle lane. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)
Tim Webb, 66, spotted the problematic pole in the middle of a TfL funded cycle lane. (Photo by Joe Coughlan)

He said: “It’s one of those topics, if you ask anyone in Orpington, that will come up time and time again as a great white elephant. And the latest incident just makes it a mockery… I’ve been at night and that [hazard tape] is not reflective. So the concern people have is that someone goes charging into it.”

He added: “I’ve got nothing against cycle lanes. I think they’re a good idea, but I think the money from TfL maybe could have been used more wisely.”

The offending pole in Crofton Road in Orpington, Bromley. Photo by Joe Coughlan)The offending pole in Crofton Road in Orpington, Bromley. Photo by Joe Coughlan)
The offending pole in Crofton Road in Orpington, Bromley. Photo by Joe Coughlan)

Openreach is reportedly responsible for the utility pole on the path.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Our pole was in place before the cycle lane was created; we’re working with the council to make sure it’s safely relocated.”

Bromley Council said in a comment on FixMyStreet on October 24 that the issue was being investigated.

The council and TfL were approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.