Wednesday, 26 May 2010

More than just a ride

On Saturday 22 May the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign and Sustrans went on a bike ride that was both pleasant and revealing. Led by Neil Collingbourne from Sustrans 13 riders followed the river Ching from Folly lane to Chingford station. Sustrans has committed much time and effort to clearing parts of the path and promoting it to Waltham Forest Council as a viable Sustrans walking and cycling route. I think everybody on the day agreed that Sustrans has our full support on this.

Clearly there is much to be done yet. To the west there is potential to link up with the Lea navigation carrying National Cycle Route 1. The path between Folly lane and the A406 North Circular road is accessible, but rather narrow and overgrown. Nevertheless it something of a hidden treasure running along a pleasant brook flanked by a golf course and school sports grounds.

At some point the A406, one of the big road building sins, must be crossed. We chose the ramped footbridge, although using the underpass under Billett roundabout may be a better option, not least because it leads directly onto the quiet route along the Ching without having to negotiate the rather hostile supply roads to the local supermarket.

Once on the marked cycle route along the Ching the ride is again very pleasant indeed. Whereas the official LCN route continues through quiet streets and Larkswood park to North Chingford, we persisted in following the river Ching.This meant going down the quiet Cavendish road and turning left onto Winchester road, which can be quite busy and is rather narrow. But after only a couple of hundred meters we turned into a very nice path opposite Haldan road, which took us under the railway bridge. Cycling is prohibited there, which surely can be changed given the very poor alternative for cyclists crossing the railways.

Emerging on Beech Hall road we crossed over into Beech Hall Crescent only to turn left immediately behind some kind of garage. This really did not look like a feasible path. But a sense of adventure and a healthy dose of stubbornness revealed the river again and the path would be perfectly fine, had it been maintained. So again some work to do to make this one of the nicest parts of the route.

Turning left onto Hale End road we took a right straight away into Vincent road. At the end of this coul-de-sac we joined yet another beautiful off road stretch and we decided to go via Gordon avenue and Falmouth avenue into a Forest path back along the Ching. There may well be a route that stays with the river avoiding Gordon avenue, something yet to be explored.

The path parallel to Forest Glade does need draining to make it useable all year round and we chose to go on Forest Glade in the end. After a right and left into Waterhall avenue we reached the roundabout at the bottom of Friday Hill. This one really does need proper cycle facilities and high speeds must be addressed to enable cyclists and pedestrians to use it.

It appears Neil saw the steep hill (Friday Hill) and couldn't resist the challenge. Now there is nothing wrong with a steep hill, but the adjacent road is not very pleasant at all and we quickly realised we lost track of the river and should have gone via Newgate street and Chingdale road - another bit to explore next time.

As it happened we ended up on Normanton Park, crossing Whitehall road and following Long Deacon road and Beresford road. These are relatively minor roads, but appear to be popular rat runs. There clearly is scope for a modal filter or traffic calming to make this better for cycling and walking.

For this last stretch to Chingford station it might be worthwhile trying to stick closer to the river again. I'm sure with the support of Waltham Forest Council and Sustrans we will work out a great route in the end. For this brilliant ride our thanks go to Neil and all others at sustrans for pursuing their campaign and putting so much work into it.

Friday, 14 May 2010

WFcycling gets cycle facility fixed

I suppose the Thames Water contractors could be forgiven for overlooking the cycle cut through between Forster road and Low Hall lane. So when they finished their water mains work they put down a normal kerb stone in instead of a dropped kerb.
A WFcycling member spotted this, recognized the danger and alerted Thames Water. Thanks to Andrew at Thames Water it was fixed very swiftly and is made safe again.
Of course we would still like to see the cycle cut through rebuilt to the standard of the one just 100m further down the road at Essex road. If you want to support WFcycling on this, get in touch.

Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Coppermill lane: E17s true 'cycle super highway'

The fact that Waltham Forest has no route earmarked as one of the Mayor of London's cycle super highways may not be such a bad thing given all the criticism they raise.
However, if you want to experience mass commuter cycling without the need of any infrastructure, come to E17s Coppermill lane. The modal share for cycling in the morning peak must be one of the best in London.
Granted the main reason for this may be that it is a dead end road for motor traffic and in any case a minor road. Another reason may be the dreadful conditions on alternative routes (Ferry lane and Lea Bridge road).
But hey, who is to complain. Use Copper mill lane, glide down to the Walthamstow Marsh nature reserve, take a deep breath and see how great London can be for cycling.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Cycle/pedestrian collision

Unfortunately there has been a collision where a cyclist injured a pedestrian on Selbourne road junction with Hoe Street in Walthamstow E17 London. This was reason enough for one of the more active campaigners in the borough to state how he has always said the junction was unsafe and his email to councilors, council officers and the press implies we, the Waltha Forest Cycling Campaign had been complaicent about this and that we are somehow 'in bed' with the council.

Clearly I could not leave those public accusations unanswered and replied emailing the following (names removed):

Dear XXXX,

Firstly I would wish Ms Bateson a good recovery despite the gloomy prospects given by the hospital. I am very worried that she got struck there with or without the lights working, as anybody should be able to easily stop in such a situation. However, my knowledge of the incident only comes [from] the newspaper article.

It is particularly shocking that the perpetrator fled the scene and I do hope that he or she can be caught. Only last month have I raised Waltham Forest's hit and run problem with the Transport Liaison Consultative Group where I highlighted that especially pedestrians and, although not in this case, cyclists are at the receiving end of this menace and Waltham Forest has one of the worst hit and run rates in London.

With regards to the junction design I have directed your concerns to the council as soon as I received them some time ago. I have also used the junction to see for myself and must say that with the lights working I had no problem, but I know other people found it poorly designed. What did occasionally happen was that people crossed at the pedestrian lights when they were red and the cycle light was green. This does not surprise me at all as the pedestrian green phase is ridiculously short particularly at peak times. This has sometimes caused conflict for me, but never to an extent where a personal injury accident could have resulted.

During the road works at this junction the cycle lights were simply covered and so were the pedestrian lights in fact. I reported this dangerous problem to the Council and was informed that it is a TfL matter. I had to assume that the Council would inform TfL, but did so myself as well, as I thought it was an urgent problem.

I don't recall noticing any changes following my complaint. True, since the lights for most of the junction have been reinstated the cycle lights remained covered and I have no idea why. Maybe the Council or TfL can explain.

I will ignore your underhand comments directed at the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign. Our members and activists do a sterling job with limited resources and can in no way be made responsible for the safety of any junction. All our dealings with the council and indeed anybody else are completely transparent and public and to suggest that there is some sort of backscratching going on is frankly ludicrous. Just what benefit you think WFCC would get out of such a deal I have no idea.

I am very sorry you decided not to extend your membership and hope you reconsider soon, so you can benefit from the many things the LCC has to offer and (...) be part of London becoming the model cycling city of Europe. I hope you will continue alerting the Council and us to any cycle related problems though.

Best wishes


The follow on story published in the Waltham Forest Guardian is based on this email and you are welcome to make up your own mind whether the author represented my views correctly.