Thursday 4 April 2024

Equinox Ride Report

 What better way to celebrate the victory of day over night than to head over to East London
for a survey of cycle infrastructure? We may be lean, green, pedalling machines, but we are
also never boring. But how to get there?
All rides (except the Summer Solstice Ride) start at The Sultan for the simple expediency of
providing a destination to return to, and the further necessity of gathering thoughts and
reflections over a few jars of suds. So, 10am on Sunday 24 th March saw us head to the
Wandle Trail and thereon up to the mighty Thames. We had a headwind.
Mingling with joggers (many) and dog walkers (few) along the Thames Path to Battersea
Park was straightforward enough, apart from the headwind. Battersea Park deserves a
special note for urban cyclists. There’s a water fountain from which it’s possible to refill a
water bottle near the steps with the red handrails, and there are loos just to the west of the
coffee caravan. Very nice.
We crossed Chelsea Bridge and took CS8 to Parliament Square, then on to CS1 (highly
controversial when proposed, highly popular once installed) to Tower Bridge. All into a
headwind. We saluted the mural to the Battle Of Cable Street and eventually arrived at
Limehouse Basin where our survey begins.
The path alongside the Limehouse Cut is narrow and well-used by pedestrians. We dinged
our bells, smiled, nodded and thanked our fellow path users and were saluted in kind. The
track’s in great condition and suitable for everything down to a 25mm tyre. There are a
couple of heavily cobbled sections under bridges where riders have to dismount or face
death by vibration. A section suspended over the water concludes path. Take note of the
latter Merton and Wandsworth Councils: this is what’s possible for the missing part of the
Wandle Trail at Earlsfield.
And then it’s The Greenway! Exactly four miles of perfectly smooth, super-wide, shared use
tarmac connecting Stratford to Barking. Somehow the headwind disappeared and we purred
along past the architecturally interesting pump house (did I mention that The Greenway is
built on top of a giant sewage pipe?) and spectacular views of the Beckton Alps. Nothing to
report other than the pleasure of what’s possible and a recommendation that you get
yourself over there to experience this Wonder Of The Modern World for yourself. There are
a few police posters at the beginning of the ride demanding caution and vigilance due to the
activities of thieves. This is sad to have to pass on, but forewarned is forearmed, I suppose.
The passage to Greenwich through the Isle Of Dogs started on the lovely Beckton Corridor
which threads a green ribbon through new housing and industrial units. Cycling provision
becomes rather chaotic before breaking down altogether north of Royal Victoria Dock. The
headwind returned. We made sacrifice to the elevator gods and were blessed with working
lifts at both ends of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.
Our pulses quickened as our tyres rolled onto the newly completed Cycleway 4 (Greenwich
to Tower Bridge). Fully segregated, two-way cycle path with clearly marked priority over
turning traffic. Proper little cycle traffic lights kept us respectable. We could have been in
Holland. Well, OK, maybe not Holland. Belgium then. But it was really easy to use and
didn’t send us off on wild diversions to avoid inconveniencing cars. We kept the headwind.
Then it was over Tower Bridge and joining up with the outbound route for our return to
Wimbledon where we pooled our thoughts in The Sultan.

Forty five miles taken over four and a half hours including plenty of stops to look at this and
that and a longer break for lunch. The four major cycle facilities we inspected set a high
mark for other boroughs, but one couldn’t help the feeling that once off those tracks we’d be
back to the same difficulties we see elsewhere. Very enjoyable nonetheless and well worth
the mileage out there and back. If you’re keen to have a look for yourself, either drop us a
line or pop along to our next meeting and we’ll send you the gpx file to load into your gps.