So, you’ve found a way onto it, and negotiated the secret cycle superhighway up to North Greenwich station. Just before Queen Elizabeth II pier, there’s the left turn to the station… clunk!
Yes, the way to North Greenwich station has been fenced off by some jobsworth. It’s worth reiterating a bit of blindingly obvious history here – the Millennium Exhibition site, aka the Millennium Dome and latterly the O2, was opened in 1999 as part of a “car-free zone”. As environmental concerns rose during the early years of that new millennium, much of that car-free aspect was, er, tossed in the dustbin, with park-and-ride commuters encouraged to fill a huge car park next to North Greenwich station.
But how easy is it to commute by bike using North Greenwich station? Not easy enough. But, to be fair, there is some progress. Having your way to the station fenced off, however, is not part of that process.
I understand that the O2’s owners claim there’s room for 200 cycles to park near their venue. But where? The vast majority use this area in North Greenwich station, under the watchful eye of a snack bar. It’s a bit busy.
There’s some sorry sights here, though… it doesn’t really inspire confidence.
But where are the other cycle parking spaces? How about these?
That’s North Greenwich station in the distance, by the way. Not very appealling.
There’s these, locked away in an old Dome car park that’s now playing host to the London Soccerdome.
So that’s how cycle parking was at North Greenwich until recently – shoddy, to say the least. But in recent weeks, some new stands have appeared, serving students at Ravensbourne and workers at the new office blocks which have sprung up…
So there’s hope. A third rack appeared outside Ravensbourne after I took these photos. But what’s needed is a proper facility as close to the station as possible – there’s room at Peninsula Square – and some people already (presumably illicitly) park there.
Transport for London could help too – there’s plenty of space by the North Greenwich taxi rank, if cabbies and cyclists can learn to live with each other.
Finally, navigating around the Dome site is not easy, especially on event nights. This is a little easier now with the opening of a new road, Cutter Lane, which runs to the beginning of the path to the pier – but it’s no good for those who park at the traditional spot by the snack bar.
Fixing this will need heads banging together, and it shows the downside of giving up so much public space to private interests. AEG Europe, the Homes and Communities Agency, Transport for London and Greenwich Council all have some sway here.
But if all these groups can work together – creating a real, easy to access cycle superhighway up to the peninsula, then making North Greenwich a safe and secure place to park a cycle, it could create something unique in London and would be an achievement to be proud of. In the long term, it may just be more useful than anything Boris can do with blue paint.