Monday 13 April 2015

The Raynes Park to Wimbledon Town Centre Cycle Route

MCC member Harry Cole takes a closer look at one of Merton's present day cycle routes.

With the news that Kingston Council have had a public exhibition of their plan for a Cycle Path from New Malden Station to the Car Park at the Raynes Park Social Club, and are apparently keen to press ahead with the construction phase, I decided to take a critical look at the existing path it will connect to from Raynes Park Station to Wimbledon station.

This is a shared path throughout its length, except for the short sections at Wyke Road and Alt Grove before it joins St George's Road in Wimbledon. It is a generally good quality Tarmac surface with the railway fence on one side, and the rear fences of properties along the other. The railway fence is a good quality one, more than can be said for many on the other side with are generally in poor repair and covered in graffiti. There are lampposts along the whole length, though I imagine that in the dark it might seem rather unsafe.

My main concerns are the crossings by the Raynes Park and the Lower Downs Road tunnels, the variable width in places, and the ending of the path in Wimbledon.

Going from the station at Raynes Park, there is a narrow shared path by the café and then a crossing by the tunnel. It is difficult to see to the right from the kerb and traffic comes through the tunnel at some speed. As some of this is HGV it is intimidating.

Once on the path itself there is the occasional obstruction and consequent narrowing…

…until the next bridge crossing at Lower Downs Road.

Here, there are markings on the pavement indicating that maybe a dropped kerb is going to be installed, though again cars and small vans can approach at speed from the right without warning.

Back on the path it opens out somewhat as it passes the school playing fields until it passes a footbridge over the railway. This is too steep to carry cycles over, but could provide an alternative route to Dundonald Park.

Continuing on you reach the end of the path at another footbridge which I believe the council has plans to install tracks on to enable bikes to be wheeled over, and turn into Tabor Grove where a dropped kerb is needed.

Finally, the cycle track ends at St George's Road where there is no space for cycles at all and an inconspicuous sign indicating a right turn to the station.

Generally, the path, despite the two dangerous bridge crossings, does provide a way of avoiding road traffic between the two stations. Less confident riders might find the rather isolated feel of the path, especially after dark, too off putting and might prefer the route on residential roads south of the railway tracks. These though will feature lorries and buses along the Kingston Road where there is only a painted line for security.

When the council puts forwards its plans for joining the section from Raynes Park to New Malden, I will have a look at these with a similar critical eye.