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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We’ll think again about our consultations, Morris Walk developer Lovell says

Lovell Trinity Park render
Lovell’s proposed view from Maryon Park – where Denmark House stood until recently

The developer behind the redevelopment of Morris Walk Estate says it will reconsider how it presents its consultations after presenting residents last autumn with a series of confusing QR codes.

Lovell, which is knocking down the 1960s estate on the Charlton-Woolwich border and turning it into the Trinity Park development, launched a virtual consultation with residents last year ahead of submitting a planning application to Greenwich Council.

However, it took the form of a series of videos that could only be accessed by using QR codes. The Charlton Champion decoded the consultation to present the videos individually in a story last October.

In a residents’ newsletter released just before Christmas, Lovell said: “Concerns over the inaccessibility and complication of the online QR codes and videos have been carefully considered and will be taken very much in consideration in the next steps in the aim to create a more accessible and easy-to-understand platform.”

The estate, built on cleared slum housing between 1964 and 1966 and named after its most notorious street, originally had 562 council homes. Of the 766 homes promised on the new development, 177 will be for affordable rent (about half market rent) with 76 available for shared ownership.


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Talk to TfL and council officers about Charlton’s new cycleway and other Streetspace schemes

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

We’ve not been sent any information about this (engagement, eh?), all we’ve seen is a little-noticed tweet from Greenwich Council, but it’s worth flagging up – TfL is holding an online event on Monday 14 December to explain and discuss its plans to create a cycle route between Greenwich and Woolwich.

The first section, which begins at Old Woolwich Road and stops at Farmdale Road, right where Greenwich becomes Charlton, is due to be finished by next week after being delayed for about two months. A second section, through Charlton to Anchor & Hope Lane, is due to follow soon after. A third section, to the Woolwich Ferry roundabout, is currently being covered by wider bus lanes until funding can be found for cycle lanes – which have led to some traffic problems as drivers adjust to only having one lane rather than two.

The cycle route is part of a wider plan to create a continuous cycle route between Tower Bridge and Woolwich.

TfL analysis showed that Charlton and Woolwich would benefit most from low-traffic neighbourhoods (darker scores are higher, see the full details)

The wider Streetspace scheme also includes the blocks on through traffic in west Greenwich and new proposals for streets around Maze Hill. There is nothing for side streets in Charlton, despite rat-running problems here, and TfL advice that suggests that streets between the A102 and Woolwich town centre would benefit most from measures to to block rat-running – advice based on factors including traffic and casualty levels, cycling potential, schools, population density, deprivation and low car ownership.

Here’s chuck-out time at Fossdene school – hardly a conducive and friendly environment for walking and cycling, with pedestrians penned in and cars dominating what should be a residential road.

Plenty, then, to discuss. You can sign up using this form for the meeting, which runs from 6pm to 7.30pm.


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