On your bike, Greenwich

If you cycle in the borough of Greenwich – which I don’t, but I’m thinking about it… – you might like to know that Greenwich Council is looking at expanding and improving cycling facilities. It’s very early days, but a panel of councillors has been set up and they’ll have their first meeting on Tuesday evening. They aim to produce a final report next summer.

Part of the reasoning for setting up the panel is a feeling that the rest of the borough may have been neglected as resources have been concentrated on the national cycle route along the Thames Path, another is to provide the obligatory “Olympic legacy” – although with Great Britain’s cycling success and the stunning velodrome taking shape at Stratford, that actually doesn’t sound as hollow as cynics might suggest. All this needs to fit in with the mayor’s plans for London as a whole (a cycle superhighway through Deptford, Greenwich and Woolwich isn’t due until 2015) and what neighbouring boroughs like Lewisham, Bexley and Bromley offer. Oh, and this will be against the backdrop of what may be savage cuts to the council’s budget.

As a non-cyclist, what’s always deterred me is the roads – two deaths on Woolwich Road last year show the risks, and there was a nasty-looking accident at Deptford Bridge on Wednesday. But it’s not like I don’t know the backstreets, and Charlton Road has a great long cycle lane. A more stubborn problem, though, is the terrain – living on a steep hill doesn’t make cycling tempting.

Then again, though, I could be tempted if it was easier to cycle to North Greenwich Tube – dual carriageways and retail barn car parks get in the way of access to there and the Millennium Village – and there was plenty of secure spaces – although currently the bikes are under the watchful eye of a parked-up snack bar. If the gap in the riverside walk between the Thames Barrier and King Henry’s Wharf, Woolwich, was filled in, that would be incredibly useful for many.

One thing that struck me the other day was how little of Greenwich Park is open to cyclists – not that many take any notice of the ban on bikes in mich of the park, but it does seem strange how many logical routes through the park are blocked to those on two wheels. Cycle stand provision seems quite patchy as well – with, for example, none at all in the Greenwich-controlled parts of Blackheath. Not very easy for me to cycle up to the Standard for shopping, then. The Greenwich Cycling website shows where they are.

The panel is chaired by Peninsula councillor and occasional 853 commenter Mary Mills, who’s been talking with Greenwich Cyclists to get their ideas. But if you’ve any suggestions you’d like to throw in, I’m sure she’d be interested to hear from you.

4 comments

  1. Cyclestreets.net can be very useful for planning routes. I don’t know where you live but I just tried a route from the top of Charlton Church Land to North Greenwich and it came up with 3 suggestions – a fast route, a balanced route and a quietest route. (Often the quietest route will involve dismounts onto foopaths.) But this is what it came up with

    http://www.cyclestreets.net/journey/216550/

    Obviously, there’s not much you can do about the hills apart from trying to find dog-leg routes up the incline – up, along, up, along – that are longer but give you a chance to take the climb in stages.

  2. Greenwich have got some of the best roundabouts for cyclists in London though – two of the roundabouts on Woolwich Road are a highlight of my morning commute. Cycle lanes integrated into every step of the roundabout, so you can turn left without having to wait? THE DREAM. I do notice far fewer cyclists on that end of my commute though, compared to the vast hordes of the Clapham Cycling Mafia at the start. Wonder why that is.

  3. I’d second what Deptford Dame says – there’s a pitiful lack of cycle parking in the town centre – a few always over-crowded stands by Waterstones, one lone stand within spitting distance of the Picture House,and that’s about it.

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