Safety improvements in Greenwich town centre are to come before any scheme to change the notorious Woolwich Road roundabout, which has seen two cyclists killed in nine years, London’s walking and cycling commissioner has told 853.
Software engineer Edgaras Cepura was killed on his bike at the notorious junction last month, while fashion website supervisor Adrianna Skrzypiec died in a similar incident at the same spot in May 2009.
But a scheme to make Greenwich town centre better for pedestrians and cyclists will go ahead before the rest of the A206 is looked at, Will Norman says.
He was speaking at the opening of the opening of the Thames Path’s “missing link”, a new pathway between the Thames Barrier at Charlton and King Henry’s Wharf in Woolwich which fills in a gap along the riverside path.
The £1.5m “missing link” opened after 15 years of lobbying by Greenwich Cyclists, and campaigners are now turning their sights onto fixing the flyover, where the A206 meets the Blackwall Tunnel approach road.
The A206 to Woolwich – including the roundabout – was due to be improved as part of the Cycle Superhighway 4 scheme, which would have provided a segregated lane between London Bridge and Woolwich.
But plans now only cover Tower Bridge to Deptford Creek Bridge.
Norman told 853 the Woolwich Road was in the top 25 routes in London that needed attention for cycle safety: “Cycle Superhighway 4 was separated out under the previous administration into chunks, and the section from Greenwich to Woolwich was downgraded as part of that decision.
“Earlier this year, we undertook the strategic cycling analysis which is looking at how we prioritise public investment as we go forward. In this, the route from Greenwich to Woolwich formed part of one of those top 25 routes.
“So the first part of that we recently have been looking at is the Liveable Neighbourhood programme, which makes improvements in areas, and we’ve been working with the borough to address concerns around the gyratory and making that safe, which as you know has millions of people coming to visit the Unesco world heritage site.
“Then clearly the next section is to work with the borough on the next part of the route, with borough officers and politicians and coming up with the best way to tackle that.”
Pressed on when action would take place at the Woolwich Road roundabout, he replied: “That is why we are working with the borough – it’s a borough road, and we are hugely suppportive of this, and we are committed to working together to solve this. and we want to sort this out as soon as possible.”
Norman said there was no date for any improvement at the roundabout.
The new cycle route does at least allow cyclists to avoid a stretch of A206 between Charlton and Woolwich. It uses a ramp to pass from the Thames Barrier site into the Westminster Industrial Estate – the old Siemens factory, which dominated the area before closing in 1968 – before passing Thames-Side Studios and the Arts Cafe. A second ramp at the end of Warspite Road then takes walkers and cyclists above the riverside before rejoining the existing Thames Path at King Henry’s Wharf.
Closures by developers aside, the completion of the “missing link” now means near-uninterrupted access to the Thames right through Greenwich borough from Deptford to Thamesmead and beyond, as well as improving cycle access to both North Greenwich tube and the forthcoming Woolwich Crossrail station.
Norman said: “This really sits at the heart of what the mayor and his team are trying to do: to enable more people to be more active, to get out of their cars and actually enjoy exploring the city and finding new spots. Far more people can access this and use it as part of their daily lives.”
New signage indicates that the link will eventually be joined to Quietway 14, a cycling route which currently runs from Blackfriars Road to Canada Water station.
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