This week saw time to pop over the Greenwich and take a look at how a new stretch of Cycle Highway 4 between Greenwich and Deptford is shaping up.
As images show, much work appears to be almost complete on the new lane between a junction near Waitrose in Greenwich and Deptford Church Street.
Work begun back in November 2019 on what was known as Cycle Superhighway 4, though it’s now lost it’s super-ness and is rebranded as plain old Cycle Highway 4, running from Tower Bridge to the very edge of Greenwich.
The route was originally planned run to Woolwich ferry on segregated lanes through Charlton and Woolwich. That was cut back, though over the past year a temporary lane has been installed between Greenwich and Charlton. The stretch between east Greenwich and Charlton was covered here and opened last month.
Major revisions are being undertaken at the junction leading to New Capital Quay and Waitrose. Even at the time it was rebuilt around 2014 the design was decades out of date. Greenwich Council were told, it was ignored and now it’s being ripped out.
When TfL were consulting about this new stretch Greenwich were still requesting outdated design such as retaining large stretches of guardrail. Lewisham Council asked for a feeder lane on Deptford Church Street. TfL agreed to Lewisham’s request.
One of the most controversial elements is the removal of an eastbound bus lane on Creek Road – which TfL state will delay buses.
TfL noted in a reply to consultation comments that: “a journey time increase of up to 6 minutes is expected eastbound between Surrey Quays Road and Creek Road”.
That’s a fair few people held up for longer with the bus lane removal. This contentious issue will resurface again and again. How many bus lanes should be removed for safer cycling?
The new cycle lane passes many new-build homes along here, of which the majority are car free. One such block is now rising, with others on the way. They’ll be plenty of potential users of the new lane.
To the west, work currently ends just past Deptford Church Street:
Eventually it will head further west past Deptford High Street and relatively close to 3,500 homes at Convoys Wharf:
Then beyond that there’s the major issue of rebuilding a one-way system near Rotherhithe on the Lower Road. Consultation has been underway but work appears some way off.
Other major developments along this stretch are Deptford Landings (1,132 homes) and the Surrey Quays shopping centre rebuild.
However no final design is yet evident for much of this stretch, and this reveals a flaw with those original plans for a major new cycle lane for south east London, as cycling provision is still fragmented and in many places will remain so even when CS4 is complete.
When the lane reaches Greenwich it will now promptly end within metres, with cyclists then expected to divert to the river path. A few metres beyond and cyclists meet Cutty Sark Gardens, and then the problem of the Old Naval College.
Plans were announced for removing the Greenwich town centre one-way system and creating a cycle lane in the town centre but it’s all gone very quiet.
There is now a lane to Charlton from east Greenwich, though eastwards from Charlton cyclists must share a bus lane. There’s no apparent funds for the stretch to Woolwich. Cyclists then encounter more problems recently covered on this site.
Numerous new builds are being built in the middle of Woolwich yet the fastest link between segregated lanes to the west of Woolwich (eventually) and Plumstead (already existing) will see no segregated lane despite money being available and recently spent altering roads.
It’s a key missing gap with no plan to plug it.
This stop-start nature of segregated provision will impact upon usage. There’s still many key questions unanswered. Is there funding for Greenwich town centre and the Charlton to Woolwich stretch? What happens past Woolwich ferry to Plumstead Road?
It appears cyclists will be expected go on detours along the river’s edge rather than directly along Woolwich High Street and then Beresford Street to meet recently installed segregated cycle lanes on Plumstead Road. Not such a pain if on a leisure trip perhaps, but if modal change for routine journeys such as commuting or shopping is the aim – and it is – these slower routes aren’t ideal given new builds have been built alongside, money allocated from developers for street changes. They are happening, yet with no safe cycling provision.
For those living in Greenwich borough a lot of questions remain due to the curtailment of original plans – and a lack of focus in plugging gaps in provision. For those west of Greenwich a fully segregated and direct route to central London awaits when future stages complete. The Greenwich to Deptford stretch offers the first taste of more miles to come.