To Deptford on Saturday to check out the Deptford Christmas Fair – typically, I was too late to get the borrowed bike checked over by the “bike doctor”, but I did get the chance to check out the ferris wheel offering free rides in the SE8 skies…
A lot of the fair was showing off some of the work Lewisham Council’s doing to make it more pleasant to walk and cycle from Deptford to New Cross. Margaret McMillan Park, which lies between Deptford High Street and New Cross station, has been revamped while Fordham Park in New Cross is having a makeover. In between the two, the once-grotty underpass under the station has been new lighting designed with artist Heather Burrell. There’s lots of new signs, big wide paths and snazzy new street lights.
The idea is to make this a popular route for walking or cycling, rather than an obscure cut-through – instead of battling the fumes of the A2, you can stroll through greenery between New Cross Gate and Deptford High Street. It works well – it’s not always appreciated just how close Deptford and New Cross are, and hopefully this will challenge perceptions that walking through these areas is somehow putting your life at risk.
One thing I’d like to see is promoting Deptford station as an interchange for New Cross on London Overground – the two stations are only a few minutes apart using this route and it’d be a valuable connection for people travelling from Greenwich and beyond.
It’d also be good if this walking/cycling route could be extended east from the high street towards the Ha’penny Hatch bridge to Greenwich, smoothing out the slightly awkward route through the Crossfields Estate and strengthing links between Deptford and Greenwich.
Unfortunately, though, Lewisham’s enlightened thinking isn’t matched on this side of the border, with Greenwich Council still proposing to turn Norman Road, at the other side of the Ha’peny Hatch, into a gyratory as part of its pedestrianisation proposals. A telling little detail about the Ha’penny Hatch is the signs on the Greenwich side imploring cyclists to get off and walk – there’s no such instructions on the Lewisham side.
Returning home along the river, I found a familiar problem had returned – the Greenwich foot tunnel locked with no signs of life…