Cycling: City Consultation Launch and the Friends’ view

On the 16th April the City of London launched a Consultation process which will determine the level of future Cycling allowed in Wanstead Park, so this is a significant issue for all Park users.

Here is a link to the Consultation process. Please use this opportunity to let your view be known.

The topic of Park Cycling had been previously discussed at the Wanstead Park Liaison Group Meeting of 17th March as it had been raised by the Friends as an increasing issue of confusion for Park users.

The City in return had presented Two Options to the Friends Committee for their deliberation:

  • Option 1 – No Cycling
  • Option 2 – Cycling throughout the Park
Below is the Response agreed by FWP The Committee:

FWP Committee Response to Epping Forest Cycling Options 1 & 2 – April 12th 2021

The FWP Committee Members have now personally reviewed the EF Cycling proposal, and collectively discussed the options at their 8th April Committee meeting.

Unsurprisingly, there is NO support for Option 1.

We agreed that to ban cycling in the current climate would be a retrograde step which would only be welcomed by a small minority of Park users.

There was some support from Committee Members for Option 2 unconditionally.

Other Committee Members registered concerns regarding Option 2, preferring the model forwarded to Epping Forest (EF) previously, which was in favour of expanding cycling provision but recognising that some walkers would prefer space where cyclists were not allowed.

The main difficulties perceived in Option 2 were:

  • That the safety of paths in a Listed Landscape which would be compromised by greater cycling usage, at a time when EF state there is no additional budget for additional maintenance and/or the development of more suitable paths.
  • If cycling was ‘open’, what would prevent sensitive areas such as the Bluebell wood being used and damaged? How would cyclists be directed to use appropriate paths where the width and surface could withstand additional wear.
  • If the safety of pedestrians is reliant on cyclists following the Code of conduct, how will this be signed, monitored and enforced? Is it feasible to use barriers to moderate speed?

So Option 2 is not fully supported, but if EF choose to adopt it then the Committee would want to hear how the above risks, particularly Safety, might be best mitigated.

Those who were unable to fully support Option 2 recognised that their fears may be misplaced, but pointed to the difference between a rule allowing Cycling anywhere in Epping Forest, and anywhere in Wanstead Park with the increased risks that entailed.

If Option 2 is introduced, the Committee would welcome a Trial period and review.

Regarding consultation, we will of course be interested in your proposed process when made public and will support it as best we can.

You are already in receipt of the Wanstead Village Directory responses on the subject which were mixed. In addition, Gill James asked participants at the last litter pick which of the two options would be their preference. Again, unsurprisingly, most plumped for Option 2 with a noticeable generational difference in response. The young for ….. the older, predominantly against.

Please don’t hesitate to get back to us if further clarification is needed.

Best wishes

John Sharpe

FWP Chair

One response to “Cycling: City Consultation Launch and the Friends’ view”

  1. Why did they asked you to comment on only 2 options (no cycling or unrestricted cycling), when their consultation has a ‘Do nothing’ option. Do you feel you are being manipulated by the CoL? They know you could not vote to ban cycling for the reasons you give, so knew you would have to opt for options 2.

    My response the CoL consultation follows:

    I am afraid we will regret opening up the park to cycling everywhere without restriction. The paths are getting wider and wider and cyclists seem to prefer to go on the smooth verges rather than the gravel pathways making them wider still. I think we can accommodate some sensible cycle routes and should have bike racks at the entrances to encourage walking. Who wants cyclists going through chalet woods for example at the moment? The options in the consultation are rather too stark to my mind. So I vote for ‘do nothing’ and suggest we created a route from Northumberland Avenue past the park keepers houses and up to Warren road and retire the permissive route from the tea hut to the bottom of the golf course. That would give easier access to wanstead and allow cycling on one of the more robust thoroughfares in the park. Some people will always ignore any restrictions and any notices requesting them to follow certain routes but many people will comply with them. Because people don’t comply with current rules or find them confusing is not a good reason to dispense with them. I am a keen cyclist by the way.