853

news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

Posts Tagged ‘cycling

Cycling in Greenwich borough: Two steps forward, one step back

with 6 comments

It’s the simplest things that make cycling easier – and safer. Until recently, the single greatest improvement to my pedalling life was Lewisham Council resurfacing the main road out of Blackheath Village. Prince of Wales Road was treacherous, potholed, and grim. Now it’s like velvet. No more uncertain bouncing around, no more swerving around great dents or slowing down to absorb the bumps. Safer, and with fewer surprises for drivers. (Other areas of Lewisham borough haven’t been so lucky, mind.)

Together with Greenwich Council putting down a new surface at Blackheath Standard, it’s made a kilometre-long stretch a simple ride.

New cycle lanes on Charlton Road as well as Woolwich Road and Trafalgar Road have helped too. They’re not perfect, the deathtrap that is the Woolwich Road flyover is still being swerved while more radical ideas like redesigning side streets are being ignored. And the less said of the leadership’s road-building policies, the better. But they’re encouraging moves in the right direction.

Thames Path, Greenwich

Greenwich Council’s done some more super, simple cycling things recently. Nearly four years ago, I grumbled about the 1990s cobbles that interrupted the Thames Path at Greenwich Millennium Village. A couple of months back, they were finally sorted.

Now, all they need to do is indicate the pedestrian and cycling sides of the path a bit more clearly, and it’ll be nearly perfect (which is more than you can say for pedestrian and cycling provision in the rest of GMV).

Charlton Road

Back up in Charlton, the wider cycle lane was blighted by a dangerous build-out into the road at the Charlton Road/Wyndcliff Road junction, just as you approach a zebra crossing.

Build-outs – where the pavement juts into the road – are a 1990s thing. But with cyclists encouraged to ride on the left of the road, this can bring bikes into conflict with motor vehicles – particularly as many drivers have an unfortunate habit of trying to race you to a point where the road narrows. One – to assert the primacy of buses on the A206 – was removed from a bus stop on Woolwich Road when the new cycle lanes were put in last year.

Now, the Charlton Road horror has been fixed – though it could do with resurfacing – and the street is much safer.

So, at least in the north-west of the borough, some positive’s action’s being taken to make cycling safer. Sadly, though – the reverse is happening in the deep south. Head out to Eltham, go down Avery Hill Road – a hairy stretch treated as a racetrack by many drivers – and you’ll find a brand new build-out…

Avery Hill Road, 24 August 2014

From what I can gather, it’s to make it easier for Greenwich University students to cross the road after they’ve taken the 286 bus to their Avery Hill campus. But the first time I came across this, I found myself with a speeding berk bearing down on me as I moved to avoid this new obstruction in the road.

It’s not safe, and considering the good work being done in the north of the borough, it’s baffling as to why this would be installed in the south.

But it’d be churlish to ignore the good work that’s being done in areas like Greenwich, Charlton and Blackheath. If Greenwich Council really wants to encourage cycling – and there is a strategy now in place – then it needs to be consistent across the borough, and its highways engineers need to checking their “improvements” against this, rather than going for the first solution they can think of.

Will 2014 be the year of cycling in Greenwich borough?

with 18 comments

Blackheath Royal Standard
An interesting plan crept out of Greenwich Council with zero publicity before Christmas – it wants to put in a special cycle lane at Blackheath’s Royal Standard, to make pedalling through the area easier and safer.

The idea came from Greenwich Cyclists. If you’re cycling from Vanburgh Park towards Old Dover Road, it’s intimidating for new cyclists to have to circumnavigate the Standard, and can feel a bit dicey. So why not have a contraflow lane to cut straight across to Old Dover Road?

Blackheath Standard cycle plan

So, there it is. It’s a notable plan, because while Greenwich has been pretty good at widening cycle lanes and improving what’s already there; this might just be the first scheme on an existing road aimed at newer cyclists.

Most experienced cyclists will find the Standard a cinch (especially now it’s been resurfaced with new lighting) but it’s a worry if you’re a newbie. So it’s an important development, and I think it’s one which deserves credit.

You could have commented on it, but the oh-so-quiet consultation ended yesterday. Some things still need some work…

But there’s another way to have your say about cycling in Greenwich borough – the consultation into Greenwich’s cycling strategy ends this Friday. If you pedal around SE London, it’s worth a read and worth having your say too.

Written by Darryl

7 January, 2014 at 7:30 am

Greenwich Council discusses cycling, councillors fail to show

with 28 comments

A Monday night at Woolwich Town Hall? Well, there’s been better ideas for start-of-week thrills, but turning up to the catchily-titled Sustainable Communities and Transport scrutiny panel was the only show in town if you wanted to catch up on what Greenwich Council is doing for cyclists.

There’s a fair bit going on below the radar – you can read about it here – and if you listened to Greenwich Council’s officers talk, you’d feel that cyclists (and potential cyclists) were in safe hands.

But there were not one, but two elephants in committee room 4 last night. One was council leader Chris Roberts’ personal refusal to speak to London cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan.

The other… where were all the other councillors?

On the seven-strong committee, only two – chair Hayley Fletcher, and Peninsula councillor Mary Mills – bothered to show up, along with independent Tory Eileen Glover, co-opted onto the panel. Labour councillors Mick Hayes, Don Austen, Matt Pennycook and Dick Quibell clearly had more pressing concerns than showing up to a meeting they’re paid to attend. The same went for Tories Nigel Fletcher and Adam Thomas.

One councillor had an illness in the family and another was on holiday; while Nigel Fletcher’s day job meant he, oddly, was at the Labour party conference. Matt Pennycook may well have been electioneering. As for the others… heaven knows. It’s not like these people get paid to represent us or anything. Oh.

So the meeting limped on, unable to make any decisions because there weren’t enough members there, but the discussion was interesting. Direct mention of the Gilligan farrago was delicately sidestepped by the officers, and it was made clear that council officers were trying to get hold of every (other) piece of funding available. But Greenwich’s senior transport planner, Kim Smith, added that these “paled into insignificance” compared with the sums available under the schemes Gilligan is promoting.

Not that Greenwich would have been able to get all of the loot. It was confirmed that Greenwich wouldn’t have been eligible for the “mini-Holland” funding which is being offered by City Hall, having been firmly told it doesn’t count as outer London, but neither does it qualify for sums being offered to central London boroughs. (This was a subject cabinet member Denise Hyland seemed a bit clueless about at back in July.)

But as for what Greenwich would be entitled to, we were told TfL hadn’t been in touch with the council for nearly a year on Cycle Superhighway 4, which is due to run from London Bridge to Woolwich. While all the routes are up for review, Andrew Gilligan told Lewisham Cyclists last week that CS4 will be the last to be developed because of the intransigence of Greenwich’s political leadership.

Beyond this avoidable mess, though, there was discussion of those under-the-radar things discussed earlier – work on finally sorting out Cutty Sark Gardens so people can legally and safely cycle through it to the foot tunnel; the “missing link” in the Thames Path between the Thames Barrier and King Henry’s Wharf in Woolwich; some work on Canberra Road, a useful cut-through in Charlton; pointing out to Royal Parks that its signs for cyclists in Greenwich Park aren’t much cop; a joint scheme with Lewisham (cripes!) to link Greenwich station with Deptford High Street and onto New Cross; and some work going on in Avery Hill Park, Eltham.

Nothing fancy and showy, but all good solid work. And if Greenwich councillors actually cared, they might even get some more work done.

It wasn’t just cyclists let down tonight – anyone that’s cursed trying to get from the south of Greenwich borough to the north by public transport also found their concerns ignored, as the councillors missed a report about just that. We learned Transport for London has decided Kidbrooke to North Greenwich is a “priority corridor” for a public transport boost, but also that there’s no news on the final “DLR on stilts to Eltham” report – commissioned by the council two years ago, but not through the transport department. Odd.

There were other issues raised too, but hey, if Greenwich’s councillors can’t be bothered to show, why should you be interested? Was it laziness, or pique at the Gilligan issue, or just a dreadful coincidence? Who knows?

Here’s a map showing how low the rates of cycling are in Greenwich compared with other London boroughs (click it for a larger version). If Greenwich councillors really want it to change, they’ll have to do a lot better than they did last night.

But perhaps this current crop of councillors simply don’t want it to change.

London Cycle Revolution map

Written by Darryl

24 September, 2013 at 7:30 am

Ride London Freecycle – Good, but not good enough

with 3 comments

Ride London Freecycle, 3 August 2013

Like most of the good things Boris Johnson promotes, this is another one that actually started under the previous mayor. Yesterday’s Ride London Freecycle – once the London Freewheel – was great fun as ever.

But getting to the start at Tower Hill and back showed how far London has to go in really becoming a cycling city, and how little progress has been made since then. A weekend of two-wheeled fun is one thing, but the real hard work is in making sure the whole capital is a city fit for cycling.

On the way up there via Blackheath, I saw a cyclist wearing a Ride London bib pull out of Westbrook Road into Kidbrooke Park Road, a road which makes for hairy riding at the best of times. But he didn’t pull out onto the carriageway, he did a left onto the pavement and cycled up that instead. I couldn’t help wondering if he’d actually just taken a train to Blackheath rather than cycled all the way back.

I took a friend who was riding in London for the first time, and while cycling along the Thames Path isn’t the quickest way to get to central London, it’s certainly the most scenic and pleasant. And riding over Tower Bridge is usually great fun. It wasn’t yesterday, though – a bottleneck of traffic and a badly-parked ice cream van meant it was slow and unpleasant going – and this was the main route into the Freecycle for many from south of the river. On the other side, there were people wheeling their cycles back on the pavement, rather than taking on the traffic. I even saw a bike being carried on top of a car, but that could have been unrelated. Closing this iconic old bridge to motor traffic was clearly a step too far for a “cycling city”.

The Freecycle itself was great – it’s been made bigger, thankfully, cutting the bottlenecks of the past. Being surrounded by children having a whale of a time was something special. But while making loads of noise in the Blackfriars Underpass was fun, I saw a couple of nasty crashes – when it’s sunny outside the underpass, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the lack of light inside.

On the way back, we took one of the few genuine innovations that has done some good – Cycle Superhighway 3, through Wapping and Poplar, before swooping down through Cubitt Town to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. It’s a step above the other cycle superhighways, but while linking the route up has been a good thing, CS3’s separated cycle lanes – and traffic signals – were there long before blue paint was slapped down.

Ride London Freecycle, 3 August 2013

How easy did Transport for London make it to get back from Ride London? By not bothering to adjust the traffic signals, long queues of cyclists built up at the end of Royal Mint Street, where they were only given eight seconds to cross Leman Street. Clearly TfL’s “smoothing traffic flow” only applies to those on four wheels.

For all the great fun of Ride London, including this weekend’s amazing sight of amateur and pro cyclists charging down the A12 and through the Docklands for the London Surrey Classic (next time, how about through the Blackwall Tunnel and out to the North Downs?) it’s not going to do a single thing to make the streets safer for cyclists.

At the moment I’m watching the BBC’s Ride London coverage, where an elected politician is being treated once again as a national treasure. “It’s a magnificient symbol of what we’re doing for cycling in this city,” Boris Johnson told an interviewer, unchallenged, less than a month after two cyclists were killed in a week in central London. If Michael Gove held a national spelling competition, he wouldn’t be allowed to get away with saying it was a symbol of what he was doing for education. So why does the mayor of London get away with it?

It’s easy to shut roads for a weekend’s pedalling party, but the real hard work is in making it easy for people to cycle to work, to school, to the shops. Maybe with the appointment of Andrew Gilligan as cycling commissioner, we will finally to get somewhere with this (except in the rotten borough of Greenwich). But until we see concrete evidence (or rather tarmac evidence), while Freewheel/Skyride/Freecycle will continue to be a success in its own right, it’ll also be a symbol of a wider failure.

Prudential Ride London website

Update 00.15 Monday: The Ride London website quotes Boris Johnson talking about 50,000 “amateur cyclists” on Saturday’s Freecycle – does that mean people who drive cars are “amateur motorists”? It’s very unlikely Johnson came up with those words himself, but this City Hall clanger won’t do any good in persuading people that cycling is a thing that normal people do to go to the shops or wherever.

The night the wheels fell off at Greenwich Council

with 9 comments

The main highlight of Wednesday night’s Greenwich Council meeting was meant to be the motion about Greenwich Council’s refusal to deal with Andrew Gilligan, London mayor Boris Johnson’s cycling ambassador.

But it ended up being a bad-tempered farce of a meeting, which somehow managed to drag on for three-and-a-half long hours, partisanly chaired by new mayor Angela Cornforth, even down to denying partially-sighted councillor Eileen Glover the chance to get amendment papers in large print so she could take part in debates. In five years of looking in on these meetings, it was the worst I’ve seen.

The ruling Labour group is opposed to webcasting their meetings – nobody has tried to video them from the gallery, and the rubbish acoustics make recording hard – and from performances like Wednesday night’s, you can see why. If people were able to see clips of what went on, Greenwich’s councillors would be laughing stocks. The rambling excuses of hapless cabinet members would be revealed, seeking to blame anyone but themselves for their own failings.

As for leader Chris Roberts, he looked like he wanted to be somewhere, anywhere else, hunched at his table, alternately sulking and snapping at anyone who dared to criticise what was going on.

There are Labour councillors who want change, but are biding their time. There are freshly-minted candidates for safe seats who’ll be on the council next year, who also want change. Wednesday night may well have been one of the last hurrahs for the Dear Leader and his cabinet of the walking dead. But what will come next?

Don’t mention Gilligan – running scared of the cycling debate

I’ve already mentioned the cynical manoeuvre of completely replacing a neither here nor there Tory motion on health with an amendment about Lewisham Hospital’s A&E, when Greenwich Labour councillors hadn’t even bothered to pass a motion opposing its closure when it was under threat.

A similar thing happened with the cycling motion. A motion criticising the council’s refusal to talk to Andrew Gilligan was replaced by a bizarre amendment which replaced the entire text with some meaningless words about how wonderful cycling is, grumbled that TfL is more interested in central London cycling, moaned that Greenwich wasn’t mentioned in the mayor’s cycling plan, and said the council would “press TfL to complete the Thames Path”, something that’s actually Greenwich Council’s job.

Tory councillor Matt Clare opened the debate. “One local blogger has described the Conservatives as, I quote, being to the left of the council’s authoritarian Labour leadership on cycling. I’m afraid that due to the lack of decent cycleways in the borough, all of us cyclists have to track to the far left.

“In the ward I represent, Eltham South, there are numerous examples of roads that are impassable to cyclists such as myself. On Court Road, many cyclists use the pavement, including council employees – I don’t judge them for that.

“Most importantly, however, the Woolwich Road flyover, where Adrianna Skryzypiec lost her life, needs urgent and radical solutions. And who better to bring the solutions we need, than someone who’s highly articulate, someone who’s already got an audience and is being heard out there, and lives in our own borough, and knows it far, far better than the others?”

Regeneration cabinet member Denise Hyland cited figures which she says show Greenwich is one of London’s safest boroughs to cycle in – reeling off statistics at length. But what she failed to mention is that the low number of accidents reflects the low number of journeys taken by bike in Greenwich – which hasn’t seen the rise in cyclists seen in neighbouring Lewisham.

While she welcomed the mayor’s cycling policy, she added: “It is rather central London-centric – Crossrail for bikes, central London grid… and as an inner London borough, Greenwich is actually ineligible to apply for the [mini-Holland] process. I think some exceptions have been made for that, but we are ineligible as an inner London borough.”

So why didn’t Greenwich (which actually counts as an outer London borough in TfL’s recent Roads Task Force document) ask for an exemption? Hey-ho.

Even more weirdly, Hyland then referred to “the successful [sic] implementation of cycle superhighways from south of the Thames – Wandsworth to Westminster and Merton to the City – but they require a connecting bridge across the river. That reflects our case that more river crossings are needed”. It’s worth pointing out that cyclists would be barred from the Silvertown Tunnel that Hyland endorses.

You can hear more from Hyland and deputy leader Peter Brooks here:

Two words weren’t mentioned: Andrew Gilligan.

Labour’s amendment was passed around, and the fireworks were lit. Tory Nigel Fletcher said it was “quite clearly out of order”. “This is not a motion about cycling, it’s a very specific point about the relationship between this council and the mayor of London’s cycling commissioner.” Mayor Angela Cornforth, who you could feel flinch every time the council leader moved, wasn’t going to let her leader down and refused to entertain the Conservative objections.

An impatient Chris Roberts, hunched in his seat, twice objected to opposition councillors’ speeches, clearly trying to stop the “G” word from being mentioned

Worse was to come. When the Tory leader Spencer Drury tried to mention Gilligan, Cornforth intervened, claiming it was out of order as irrelevant to the amendment. He said that even local London Assembly member Len Duvall – an ex-Labour leader of the council – had intervened to try to persuade the council to talk to Gilligan.

Significantly, ousted Labour councillor Mary Mills made an intervention to ensure the work of her own cycling panel, which had included backbenchers and the general public, was recognised among the rowing.

“Wherever something is inconvenient to the party opposite, they chose to pretend it doesn’t exist,” added Nigel Fletcher – but Chris Roberts – doing his “I wasn’t going to speak but…” party trick – claimed he had Boris Johnson’s top team’s numbers on his mobile, and that relationships with City Hall were good.

Labour’s amended motion was carried – but they way the party leadership had carried on left a nasty taste in the mouth. You can read a full report from Mark Chandler at the News Shopper, while Tory candidate Matt Hartley has his own take on the issue.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel, July 2013

Work soon on the foot tunnels… but report kicked into long grass?

This is a big one – Greenwich Council has started the process of finding contractors to restart work on the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels, despite an independent report into the fiasco of their refurbishment not being finished. In October 2012, independent expert John Wilmoth was called in to write a report on the council’s processes when dealing with large projects, followed by one on the tunnels project itself. The first was done quickly, the second still hasn’t emerged. Originally, it was said the council would need to wait for these reports to be completed before restarting work.

Now it’s changed tack, and work’s going ahead.

According to Denise Hyland: “In discussions with our independent expert, we [have decided] the most important thing is to get those tunnels finished. So we have decided, within the boundaries of the October 2012 report to cabinet, to proceed with a procurement exercise to get those tunnels finished.

“As for the report by the independent person, I think this council would agree that the most important thing is for this council to finish the tunnels, both for our residents and those of Newham and Tower Hamlets. As for a timetable, I’m afraid it’s too early to say.”

What of the report? It’s likely to be sharply critical of the council, and particularly the department that Denise Hyland runs. It wouldn’t be a surprise if it was now delayed until after May 2014’s council election – particularly as there are rumours that Hyland fancies herself as the next council leader.

Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

Listen to the end of that clip of Denise Hyland above and you’ll hear something that never normally happens – a Labour councillor asking a question. Peninsula Labour councillor Mary Mills broke convention to ask Denise Hyland for recognition that the Greenwich Ecology Park’s Green Flag award be recognised by the council – Labour councillors are usually forbidden from asking questions in council meetings.

The threat to the park from a 20-storey tower was mentioned in public questions – but Denise Hyland, who despite being in charge of regeneration also sits on the planning board – could only be non-committal.

A clash and some facts on Greenwich Time

Chris Smith, the leader of Greenwich borough’s Liberal Democrats, criticised the propaganda in council weekly Greenwich Time in public questions. In response, Chris Roberts slagged off the Liberal Democrats.

But we know now how much advertising revenue Greenwich Time has made in the past three years, both from external sources and from within the council. This came in an answer to a question from me.

2010/11: Internal – £379,754.35 External – £198,982.31
2011/12: Internal – £411,538.55 External – £224,893.26
2012/13: Internal – £403,938.56 External – £254,272.45

We also know how much it spends on freelance editorial and sales staff.

2010/11 – £227,621.63
2011/12 – £177,192.59
2012/13 – £206,880.90

Council leader Chris Roberts claims the council saves £2.3m each year in using Greenwich Time rather than existing local papers for ads, and that no council staff work on editorial or sales for GT.

Pavement charges for small shops

Environment cabinet member Maureen O’Mara was quizzed about charges being brought in for small shops to put things on the pavement. She claims some businesses support it as it’ll bring certainty as to whether or not what they’re doing is legal.

She was questioned later by Tory Geoff Brighty, who asked if it was such a good idea, why the council hadn’t introduced it before. When a front page story about the issue in the Mercury was mentioned, she responded: “I must admit I don’t read the Mercury, so I have no idea what’s on its front page.”

Fires on Plumstead Common blamed on Boris Johnson

A spate of fires on Plumstead Common was brought up from the public gallery by Liberal Democrat candidate Stewart Christie. Maureen O’Mara’s response? To go on about Boris Johnson’s fire service cuts, which haven’t happened yet (and to which her own official response was pitiful).

There was another fire on the common yesterday afternoon. A blond-haired man was nowhere near the scene.

Greenwich Tories protest over council’s cycle tsar snub

with 5 comments

Trafalgar Road, Greenwich

Greenwich Council’s refusal to deal with London’s cycling tsar Andrew Gilligan is to be raised by Conservative councillors at this Wednesday’s full council meeting.

It’s a move that will raise eyebrows among watchers of the capital’s cycling issues – Conservatives on the London Assembly have walked out of debates on cycling safety in tantrums over unrelated issues.

But as often happens in Greenwich borough’s through-the-looking-glass politics, the Tories are staking out a position to the left of the council’s authoritarian Labour leadership.

Council leader Chris Roberts is personally refusing to deal with the journalist, appointed by mayor Boris Johnson to be his one-day-per week cycling commissioner earlier this year, and launched an ambitious – if only partially-funded – programme of improvements to boost cycling and make it safer.

Roberts has ordered that the whole council should have nothing to do with Gilligan, who lives in west Greenwich and has criticised the leader and his council in his Telegraph and Greenwich.co.uk columns – even though this means Greenwich is believed to be the only one of London’s 32 boroughs to refuse to speak to him.

Last month, cabinet member Denise Hyland attempted to justify the snub, saying Gilligan “is a journalist who has blogged and written about significant issues of public policy within Greenwich and it is our view that he has an irresolvable conflict of interest”, adding that the council would deal with officers at City Hall and TfL rather than with Gilligan.

The Tory motion reads:

Council disagrees with the Cabinet Member’s suggestion that Mr Gilligan has “an irresolvable conflict of interest” and considers that his superior knowledge of our Borough should be something which works to Greenwich residents’ advantage.

Council regrets that Greenwich is the only Borough not to meet with the Cycling Commissioner to help plan spending on infrastructure to support cycling across London.

Council considers that the actions and comments of the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member with regard to the Cycling Commissioner places our residents at a clear disadvantage as plans are developed to improve cycling across London.

In particular Council wishes to express clear support for the ‘Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London’, most notably in its plans for a network of direct, high-capacity, joined-up cycle routes. In addition Council supports the Vision’s plan for ‘Mini-Hollands’ in the suburbs and Mr Gilligan’s support for the linked Dutch ideas of bike-specific traffic lights, station cycle hire, and streets designs that could be implemented in London.

Council calls upon the Leader of the Council or Cabinet Member to meet with the Cycling Commissioner as soon as possible to ensure that Greenwich residents (like Mr Gilligan) are not disadvantaged by the Executive’s failure to engage fully with the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London.

While it’s good that this issue is being given a proper airing in a council meeting – especially from a party which, nationally and at a London level, has a poor record in taking cycling seriously – the motion is certain to fail, and be replaced by one praising the council’s current approach, which backbench Labour councillors will be bullied into voting for, with a few digs at the coalition and Boris put in for good measure.

Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising if the motion has been placed with one eye on giving outgoing leader Roberts maximum discomfort at the last council meeting for three months. Greenwich certainly isn’t an anti-cycling borough, but under the current regime improvements and welcome initiatives such as creating a borough-wide cycle map have been given a low profile. It’s something some potential new leaders may be keen to change, to emulate other Labour boroughs such as Camden, Hackney and Lambeth.

Incidentally, this London-wide map of where people cycle to work from is telling – based on figures from the 2011 census, you can see how figures fall off sharply beyond Charlton and Blackheath (apart from an area around Woolwich Common – cycling squaddies?) – obviously distance is a factor, but if there’s any politicians in this area who want to take cycling seriously, there’s a challenge for them to consider.

Greenwich and Charlton’s new cycle lanes – what do you think?

with 31 comments

Trafalgar Road, Greenwich

It’s been a few months now since new cycle lanes were installed on parts of the A206 through Greenwich and Charlton, along sections of Trafalgar Road and Woolwich Road. While they’re nowhere near the Dutch-style lanes many cyclists want to see – and there’s still nothing happening to make the notorious Woolwich Road flyover safe – they’re bigger and clearer than their predecessors. They’re typical of the kind of cycle safety work Greenwich Council has put in over the past few years – while it’s not likely to entice anyone new onto two wheels, it tends to make things a little easier for those who already pedal. Until there’s a change of leadership, this kind of thing is the best we can hope for.

That said, there’s a few concerns. One I’ve heard is that sticking a traffic island at the foot of Victoria Way in Charlton has made Woolwich Road less safe for bikes by narrowing it. I’ve got no opinion on that, but I’ve certainly found that raising the level of Victoria Way at that junction has encouraged cars to divide into two lanes – blocking it for cyclists. It’s funny what the absence of a kerb does.

But more generally, it’s the fact that these shiny new cycle lanes carry no legal protection whatsoever. There’s not much point in creating a cycle lane if you then allow people to park in it.

Woolwich Road, Charlton

I only do a few hundred yards of the Woolwich Road each morning, but the days when the cycle lane is clear all the way through are rare. But I’m lucky. Head into Greenwich, and things get a lot worse…

Thanks to Matt Drewry for this video, which he stuck up on Twitter when this came up in conversation. He shot it during yesterday morning’s rush hour as he cycled through Greenwich. The problem here’s pretty clear – Iceland and Tesco supermarket delivery lorries blocking the lane (and a great chunk of the rest of the road, too). There’s a similar issue on Creek Road in Deptford, too, with Tesco lorries blocking the bus lane.

So what’s to be done? A supermarket needs deliveries, but is it possible to shift those deliveries to a quieter hour? And with Sainsbury’s occupying space in the (Heart of East) Greenwich Square development, is this problem going to occur there, too?

There aren’t easy answers. But with cyclists’ safety back on the agenda after more needless deaths, this kind of thing has to be taken into consideration – not just when designing roads, but in wider planning, too.

Any council can spend as much as it likes on white paint and create a cycle lane. But if that lane’s always blocked when it’s most needed, then its really needs to go back to the drawing board.

Written by Darryl

19 July, 2013 at 7:30 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 504 other followers