Drivers and bus users in Charlton beware – your journeys are likely to get worse for a short while with some upcoming roadworks and traffic along Woolwich Road, though it will be worth it. However cyclists, rejoice as your journey will be improved. This is because the riverside cycle path will be improved and made easier to navigate through Charlton as part of the ‘Olympic Cycling and Walking Route Enhancement’.

It’s the path to the right of this view that will be widened.

Anyone who has cycled along the riverside path will know that when you get to Charlton you are confronted with large factories, and a detour is necessary. Sadly the riverside path cannot be continued directly along the river due to various wranglings apparently, so instead TfL have announced plans to make the diversion back to Woolwich Road and around the factories easier, negating the need to cross over the busy Woolwich Road for those travelling west from Woolwich.

Details on this council highways department document here (scroll down to page 51 onwards)

In the words of the council –

‘When cyclists riding eastbound from the Dome along the Olympic route get
to the Thames Barrier, they are diverted down Eastmoor Street and Hardens
Manorway, on to its junction with Woolwich Road where they join the
carriageway to continue eastwards; and then back onto the Thames Path via
Ruston Road at the Warspite Road roundabout.

The westbound route around the same stretch is far more convoluted, and
involves cyclists crossing Woolwich Road in at least 2 locations, where a
number of conflict points with motorists have to be negotiated. During
Olympic year, it is necessary to provide a safer alternative to the increased
numbers of cyclists expected to make this journey.’

To combat this there will be a ‘widening the northern Woolwich Road footway to a
uniform width of 2.4m wherever necessary; in particular along the narrower
path sections in front of Holborn College.’

This will be a two way cycle path on the one strip of widened pavement. A great idea meaning those cycling westbound along the Thames path from Woolwich do not have to cross all the way over Woolwich Road for a couple of hundred metres when taking the detour around the factories.  I like that it is being permitted on a shared path used by pedestrians. Cyclists & pedestrians are to be entrusted to behave responsibly Normally Greenwich Council seem way too concerned with avoiding this, to the detriment of common sense, practicality, and user friendliness. Just see their obsession with guardrails along so many roads in the borough. TfL have seen the light and removed thousands of miles of them, but Greenwich havn’t followed to any great extent. We must not allow people to cross anywhere except where they see fit apparently. Even though guardrails cost a hefty amount, look ugly, clutter up streets, encourage drivers to speed as psychologically they feel separated from pedestrians, and are dangerous for cyclists as they can be squeezed against them by traffic. Still doesn’t stop the council sticking them everywhere as they often seem stuck in 1960/70s thinking.

When I’ve been around Europe and some other UK cities, as well as some other rather more enlightened London boroughs, I see cyclists and pedestrians sharing footpaths which works well and makes cycling more attractive as less detours are needed. Of course there are limitations with it, as it will only work where paths are of certain width, and in busy areas it’s not always suitable.

For road and bus users, the road should still be two lanes wide as well so no reduction there, and no repeat of the disastrous Plumstead Road narrowing of a few years back which was supposed to penalise motorists, thus making bus use more attractive. All it did was make my bus commute three times longer at a cost of a million quid.

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