Sunday 17 May 2015

Wimbledon Quietway

The Wimbledon Town Centre to Plough Lane section of the London Quietway network is currently being planned for delivery in 2016. The work is at an early stage, and will continue to change before formal public consultation.

This article takes a look at the current configuration of Merton Councils planned route, along with an alternative route in order to examine the problems and benefits of each. The Merton Cycling Campaign have not yet taken a position on its preference, and would welcome comments from anyone interested in this important project.

The New London Quietways

The London Quietway network was first announced in the Mayor's Vision for Cycling published in 2013. Intended to compliment the high capacity Superhighways, the Quietways would be designed for those wanting a more relaxed journey on low-traffic side streets.

The Mayor declared the following objectives for these new routes:

  • They will be direct.
  • They will be better-surfaced.
  • They will be clearly signed.
  • Each route will be delivered as a whole, not piecemeal.
  • They will not give up at the difficult places.
  • Barriers and ‘Cyclists Dismount’ signs will be removed as far as possible.
  • Where directness demands the Quietway briefly join a main road, full segregation and direct crossing points will be provided, wherever possible, on that stretch.
  • We will use judicious capital investment to overcome barriers (such as railway lines) which are often currently only crossed by extremely busy main roads. Subject to funding, land and planning issues, we will build new cycling and pedestrian bridges across such barriers to link up Quietway side-street routes.

The full text of the Mayors Vision document can be read here - Mayor's Cycling Vision

Proposed Route

The Wimbledon to Clapham Common route, is part of the second stage of London Quietways, all scheduled for delivery in 2016. The London wide view of all the 2016 routes can be seen here, though some sections including those in Merton are already out of date. Plough Lane and Haydons road are both major roads, which had once been considered but are now avoided.

In Merton's latest proposal, after arriving at Plough Lane via the Wandle Trail the journey would continue via the southern section of the Trail, making a diversion eastwards, before turning west across the Garfield Road Recreation Ground. Following a fairly direct route it then crosses Haydons Road before proceeding down South Park Road to Wimbledon Town Centre.

At 2.6km, compared to the 1.5km direct distance between the start and end, it must be questioned whether this route meets the basic Quietway design criteria of being "direct". The use of the Wandle Trail does provide a route completely free of motor traffic, but those using it would actually be travelling away from their destination for that section of their journey.

This video shows the route as it appears today.

Alternative Route

An alternative route was discussed at the 7th May meeting of the Merton Cycling Campaign, based on experience of preferred routes amongst members who ride into central London via the Wandle Trail and the old London Cycle Network. The most common route is to follow Queen's Road towards the Ashcombe Road railway bridge. After crossing the railway, turn right onto either Cromwell Road or Haydon Park Road, then cross over Haydons Road. Continue on towards Havelock Road, turn left and exit via the bicycle routes either side of the swing gate onto Plough Lane.

After reviewing this route, it was found that the traffic on Queen's Road at peak hours is considerable, leaving a narrow road with often stationary traffic on one side and buses approaching on the other. With this in mind and with some consideration of the two roads by which to cross Haydons Road, the following option was felt to better meet the definition of a Quietway.

The route avoids most of Queens Park road by following King's Road. A short one way section prevents it from reaching South Park Road, but this could be resolved with a cycling contraflow which would also enable another exit onto the broadway for those continuing straight on. Even with this small diversion, it is a considerably shorter option at 1.9km.


This section of the Quietway is just one part of a network that will reach out to Sutton, Kingston and beyond. Its predecessor, the London Cycle network was criticised for being indirect, and only being as safe as its weakest parts which were sometimes busy main roads and junctions with limited to no protection. In the Mayors vision, the priorities for the Quietways were that they would be both direct and safe, and that where necessary capital investment would be used.

We would urge the designers to consider all options to make this route the best it can be, including investment in new infrastructure if they improve the route as measured by all criteria.

The Merton Cycling Campaign is interested in the views of any individual or groups that wish to comment on this project, including those from surrounding boroughs who may use it in the future