Cycling into the future: Where to ride with Charlton’s new cycleway coming?

Faraday Works
Faraday Works – the long-closed Siemens factory – is on the Thames cycle route

The pandemic has pushed many people to get back on their bikes or try cycling for the first time. CLAIRE SELBY is one of them. With Charlton’s new cycleway under construction, she’s been brushing up on her cycle skills on the Thames Path…

Prompted by a couple of my dearest female friends who bought cycles in the first lockdown, I finally bit the bullet a few days before Christmas and got myself a city bike. I used Cycles UK in Deptford and found them ridiculously helpful for a complete novice. Panniers, rack, mudguards, a helmet and a lock later I wheeled my way out of the shop. I knew I could cycle most of the way back to Charlton along the river on the Thames Path but I hadn’t actually done it.

Context here: I haven’t cycled since I was about 14 years old, which is a long time ago and not in London. I didn’t like the idea of trying Boris bikes, and there are unbelievably no hubs yet near Charlton or Greenwich. But sometimes you just have to go for it, and go for it I did.

During the first lockdown I had three local walks I did very often: Charlton via Westcombe Park to Greenwich via the park, walk up and across to Blackheath Village and then Charlton round the O2 via the Thames Path. I got reacquainted with my local area again quietly as I had done through mudlarking over the past couple of years on the foreshore outside the Anchor and Hope. Traversing the area by cycle is quite different, but much more fun. You realise just how long a bus can take. Cycling along the Thames Path will never get old or dull for me. The absolute exhilaration of being near the river, on a designated and pretty decently maintained surface is quite the rush.

From my house off Woolwich Road I can easily cut down the usually quiet Horn Lane, use the Bugsby’s Way crossing and go down Peartree Way right up to the yacht club and then have a glorious cycle right around the O2. Soon I’ll be able to come out of my road and go immediately onto the new cycle track either all the way to Greenwich or Woolwich.

Thames Path bridge
The metallic bridge on the Thames cycle path

My favourite part of cycling in Charlton is the Thames Barrier. If you cycle from Woolwich and follow the Thames Path, you cycle alongside the river on your right, across the white metallic bridge by the marvellous Thames-Side Studios and slide right down the slope onto Warspite Road. Hook a right, sneak through the gate and cycle alongside the beautiful old warehouse buildings. How long until Faraday Works opens? I can’t wait! You come to a small restriction barrier, onto tarmac humps and there you are – the Barrier! It feels so un-London I love it. Did you know it has its own Twitter account? The glistening peaks of the Barrier hit with sunlight never fail to delight me.

I recently learnt of a proposal to build a bridge alongside the Barrier, why ever not? Recently I arranged to meet a friend there: as I got there I realised he was on the other side of the river.

My next goal is to use the Woolwich Ferry to go north, which should be an adventure. Sadly due to the redevelopment west of the ferry means you can no longer cycle right beside the river, you have to take an awkward ride or walk alongside the road and then rejoin a diversion through one of the new developments. But oh, it is surely worth it because as soon as you pop out, you are right alongside the almost mythical Woolwich Dockyard fishing lakes. Apparently there is still a 40lb carp in there somewhere according to one of the lads fishing there.

South London Aquatic Centre
The old South East London Aquatic Centre in Woolwich, which has been earmarked for development for many years

On cycling trips around the Peninsula, I have played with cycling back on part of the new cycle lane westbound from Greenwich towards Charlton. As long time residents and avid readers of The Charlton Champion will know, one of the main reasons for this cycle track being developed was the number of fatalities on the Angerstein Roundabout. Even as a pedestrian it is always quite hairy crossing the A102 – the car is king. As a cyclist now, you can’t take an unbroken route to cross it but they have made it a little easier by widening lanes and utilising the pedestrian lights to enable you to cross while still mounted. You still need to press three crossing buttons to do it though so it’s not entirely seamless.

Cycleway 4
Work is continuing on the new cycleway along Woolwich Road

The traffic on Woolwich Road and around the Blackwall Tunnel has always been terrible ever since I moved south of the river about 24 years ago. Lockdown is the only thing that has made it less congested, and the new cycle lane makes things more accessible.

If you are also starting out or getting reacquainted with a bike there is an excellent company called Cycle Confident, which offers free cycle lessons for adults. I had one lesson in that weird limbo between Christmas and New Year amongst children with fancier bikes than mine, scooters, roller skates and everything in between. I highly recommend them and have booked a second now Covid restrictions allow.

I found this which is great:

Claire is on Twitter at @sitdowncomedian and blogs at Medium.

Do you have any hints and tips for local cycling? Please share them in the comments below.


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Work starts on Charlton’s new cycleway along Woolwich Road

Cycleway 4 extension end
This is where the cycleway ends…. for now

Work is starting on Charlton’s new cycleway, extending the segregated route from the Angerstein roundabout in east Greenwich to the junction of Anchor and Hope Lane.

The first phase of the new route, between Old Woolwich Road and Farmdale Road, opened just before Christmas, and gives cyclists their own protected space on the road, separated from other traffic by wands. A crossing was also installed at the Angerstein roundabout, where two cyclists died in 11 years after colliding with lorries.

Now early work has begun on the second phase, which will continue the route past the Greenwich Shopping Park to Anchor and Hope Lane. Changes will include bus-stop bypasses, enabling riders to get around bus stops, and traffic lights at Gallions Road.

Turning from Woolwich Road into Gallions Road will be banned for motor vehicles to improve safety for cyclists, while a “cycle gate” will be introduced at Anchor and Hope Lane to give riders time and space to get away ahead of other traffic. The northbound slip road onto the A102 is also to be closed as part of this phase of work.

Last year TfL consulted on segregated lanes along the rest of the A206 to Woolwich; however, this section is currently being covered by wider bus lanes.

TfL says the Woolwich Road is “amongst the top 5% of routes in London which have the greatest potential for cycling to increase, but only if we build infrastructure to give people the confidence to cycle”.

The route is, in time, meant to become part of Cycleway 4, from Tower Bridge to Woolwich, but only a section from Tower Bridge to the Rotherhithe Tunnel has been built, alongside the route in east Greenwich.

Construction work is continuing on a section of route in Creek Road, Deptford, but plans for the rest of the route to and through Rotherhithe have not yet been confirmed.

Work is also due to start soon on an extra section at the central London end, taking the route as far as London Bridge.


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TfL ‘monitoring’ effects of widened bus lanes through Charlton

Woolwich Road
Transport for London says the widened lane improves safety for cyclists

Transport for London says it is monitoring the effects of widened bus lanes between Charlton and Woolwich after over 2,000 people signed a petition calling for them to be removed.

The lanes have been widened between Anchor and Hope Lane and the Woolwich Ferry to assist buses and improve safety for cyclists, cutting the ordinary traffic lanes down to one in each direction.

In January TfL consulted on plans to build a segregated cycleway between Charlton and Woolwich, which would have had a similar effect, but after the coronavirus pandemic the route between Greenwich and Charlton was prioritised instead. Eventually TfL hopes there will be a continuous cycle route between Tower Bridge and Woolwich.

Bus lanes were widened as an interim measure – and introduced to Woolwich Church Street for the first time – to speed up services and to add some extra safety for cyclists. However, they have been blamed for increased congestion on Woolwich Road and Woolwich Church Street.

A petition created three weeks ago by Gagandeep Singh says there are “vehicles queuing up all day and evening”. By Thursday evening it had gained 2,359 names. One signatory claims it took them 90 minutes to travel between Woolwich and Charlton; another said: “It’s impossible to get out of the roundabout at Warspite Rd. Traffic jams are terrible all day long.”

While there has been a huge jump in traffic since the end of the first coronavirus lockdown, there has been congestion where drivers attempt to filter from two lanes to one at the junction with Anchor and Hope Lane. While the wider bus lanes – which replace narrow cycle lanes on Woolwich Road – allow cyclists to overtake buses at stops, they are not continuous. This means riders still have to take their chances with HGVs and other fast-moving traffic at roundabouts – despite the introduction of a 20mph speed limit on the route.

Woolwich Road
Two lanes merge into one at Anchor and Hope Lane

A Transport for London spokesperson told The Charlton Champion the widened lane had been introduced as part of its Streetspace programme “to create more space for people to safely walk and cycle”.

He added: “The bus lanes push general traffic and HGVs further away from cyclists; making this corridor a much more pleasant and less intimidating route, and provide a link from Woolwich into the Cycleway that is currently being built between Greenwich town centre and charlton. These lanes are an interim measure while we work on the permanent scheme that was consulted on earlier in 2020, and which would provide a two way segregated cycle lane taking people from Woolwich all the way into Greenwich, and eventually into central London.

“Bus lanes protect buses from congestion and ensure journey times and intervals between buses are more reliable. Bus lanes will help guard against a damaging car-led recovery by improving bus journey times and safety for Londoners making journeys by public transport and the increasing proportion travelling by bike.

“Changes made as part of the Streetspace programme are being introduced on a temporary basis under temporary traffic orders, and will be monitored after implementation to ensure they deliver the expected benefits. Monitoring along the A206 corridor will include reviewing cycle flows, perception of safety, collision rates, general traffic flows and bus journey times.”

Woolwich Road
The widened lanes do not run across junctions

He continued: “We are reviewing the operation of the bus lanes with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and the data we are collecting is helping to inform these ongoing discussions. Where appropriate, adjustments to the scheme will be made if they aren’t performing how we expected. The new measures will be in place for up to 18 months, after which the monitoring strategy will form a key part of discussions between TfL and the council as to whether the scheme should be removed or made permanent.”


Woolwich Ferry to Anchor and Hope Lane, Charlton: Bus lanes as interim measure, funding for cycle route not yet certain

Anchor and Hope Lane to Farmdale Road, Greenwich: Work yet to start

Farmdale Road to Old Woolwich Road: Due to open early December

Old Woolwich Road to Old Royal Naval College: Uses existing routes

Old Royal Naval College to Norway Street, Greenwich: Awaiting funding application

Norway Street to Rotherhithe Tunnel: TfL in discussions with local councils, plans due in coming months

Rotherhithe Tunnel to Tower Bridge Road: Complete

Work is continuing on the cycleway between Old Woolwich Road and Farmdale Road, which will see a safer crossing put in place for riders at the Angerstein roundabout. It is due to open in early December – about two months later than planned.

The TfL spokesperson said: “This is later than originally anticipated for a number of reasons, including delays in our supply chain for temporary materials, issues with ducting identified when on site and a recent design change to Vanburgh Hill bus stops to assist bus operations.

“We are currently finalising plans for the section of cycleway between Charlton and Anchor and Hope Lane and will announce our proposals and construction timescales shortly.”

A small section of Cycleway 4 is already open between Tower Bridge and Rotherhithe Tunnel; TfL said this week that plans for the section through Deptford would be announced “in the coming months”.


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