Lower Lea Crossing: Is that it?

TfL are consulting on changes to the Lower Lea Crossing and Aspen Way Roundabout. It’s not too bad—tweaking some crossings here, widening some cycle tracks there, etc.

But it’s also not especially transformative: there’s already a cycle track here, and it already provides an important connection to the Royal Docks. Some of the changes will be nice to have, but they could’ve been better. One arm of Aspen Way roundabout on the north side, amazingly, still won’t even have crossings!

The bad news is that this scheme ties in to the Tidal Basin Roundabout and the Silvertown Tunnel. The Tunnel will bring much, much more traffic to the Lower Lea Crossing and Aspen Way. Maybe these changes to the Lower Lea Crossing cycle track are an attempt to mitigate these negative effects—but they’re nowhere near enough.

The consultation is open until Monday 12th February. We recommend responding and telling TfL:

  • The scheme won’t really make a difference to the number of people walking and cycling in the area.
  • TfL should build crossings on all arms of the Aspen Way roundabout, and they should all be separated for walking and cycling (no shared areas please.)
  • In the medium term, TfL should look at grade-separating walking and cycling at the roundabouts, like at the Green Man Roundabout.
  • Where the cycle track is interrupted for servicing entrances, drivers of servicing vehicles need to be given adequate warning to watch for people walking and cycling.
  • The main problem in the area will still be the Silvertown Tunnel, a 1960s quality urban motorway scheme which shouldn’t have been approved. This scheme, combined with the threadbare bus network and silly cycle shuttle bus, comes across as a tick-box exercise to let the Tunnel’s promoters pretend they’re doing something worthwhile for people who don’t have a car, don’t want one, or can’t afford one.

You can also read our consultation response here:


Silvertown cycle bus: Embarrassing

TfL are consulting on a long-awaited and much-needed new crossing of the Thames east of Tower Bridge. The bad news is, it’s not the bridge that got cancelled, or even a high quality RoRo ferry like the ones in Amsterdam. Why have an actual cycle crossing, or even a ferry you can cycle onto, when you could have… a bus with some bike racks?

A rendering of a bus stop with a futuristic-looking bus shelter, next to a single decker bus with bicycle racks on it and middle doors. Someone on a hand cycle is negotiating the entrance (although it's not clear how she'll be able to turn around once inside.) A commuter type wearing a tie, hi-vis jacket, and helmet, waits to load his bicycle on behind her. A woman sits on the bench holding a helmet, presumably waiting for other people to get onto the bus.

This is part of the new Silvertown Tunnel scheme, a new crossing for cars and lorries (with a piecemeal bus network) that will run from the Royal Docks to North Greenwich. We oppose this scheme as it stands, and this—presumably intended to say the scheme does something for cycling—is frankly embarrassing. There are many reasons it won’t work:

  • Larger cargo cycles unlikely to fit (meaning deliveries by car or van would enjoy an unfair advantage over zero-emissions last mile freight)
  • Adapted cycles are unlikely to fit—especially if the bus eventually looks like a minivan with a trailer
  • Unpredictable journey times
  • Low capacity that doesn’t allow for large volumes of people cycling
  • No clarity on what form the service will take, frequencies, operating hours, or whether a fare will be charged
  • The physical awkwardness of dismounting and loading your cycle into racks when getting on/off. We find it hard to believe the Silvertown Tunnel would’ve been approved if drivers had to load their cars onto car transporters to be driven through the tunnel

We can’t support the cycle bus scheme because it’s not viable as a 24/7, step-free, accessible cycle crossing that people will be able to use independently. Historical precedent suggests it is doomed to failure. It’s a box-ticking exercise that allows the promoters of the Silvertown Tunnel to pretend they’re doing something for people who don’t have a car, don’t want one, or can’t afford one.

Because of this, we have no confidence in TfL or the current Mayor delivering a viable cycle crossing east of Tower Bridge—despite the fact we desperately need them. We would love to be proven wrong, so invite TfL to seek funding for and commit to things that would actually work, including:

  • Increasing frequency and operating hours on the Woolwich Ferry, and removing the need for cyclists to dismount on the ferry decks
  • Abolishing fares on the Cable Car and extending operating hours
  • A new ferry at Rotherhithe, which TfL’s own modelling suggests could be very popular
  • Pedestrianising the Rotherhithe Tunnel, or the Blackwall Tunnel’s original Victorian bore (by TfL’s own omission, not suitable for high volumes of motor traffic, and built with a bend to prevent horses from bolting)
  • Building new fixed links—be that new cycle-only bores for the existing foot tunnels, or reviving the Rotherhithe Bridge proposal

Tell TfL to stop making excuses & do better

There’s a consultation open until this Sunday (10th September) where you can tell TfL what you think of these proposals. We’ve posted our response below in case you need inspiration, but we recommend telling them:

  • East London is crying out for actual river crossings that don’t require a car
  • A bus service that allows people to bring bikes as luggage is fundamentally flawed & won’t meet that demand
  • TfL should be prioritising high-quality crossings that would actually scale to large volumes of cyclists—ferries at the very minimum, and fixed crossings in the longer term

Freecycle feeder ride 2023

A large group of people cycle towards camera on a two-lane road with grass and greenery on either side and no other traffic.

Huge thanks to everyone who came along (all 53 of you!) to our annual feeder ride to RideLondon Freecycle on Saturday 28th May. Thanks also to our marshals (including Robin Stephenson for his photos, as always) and to Steve, our Ride Leader, who kept everyone safe on our gentle pootle from Stratford to the Bank (via Vicky Park, London Fields, and Shoreditch.) Thanks are also due to our friends from Waltham Forest and from JoyRiders who joined us for part of the journey there and back again en-route to Leyton!!

If you came along for the ride, and if you’d like cycling to be safe, easy, convenient, and fun every day of the year—why not join the London Cycling Campaign? Members get loads of benefits. Liability insurance and legal advice if you’re ever in a crash. Discounts for bike shops and insurance. A quarterly magazine. You can join as an individual or for everyone in your household, and over-60s, under-25s, and unwaged people get a discount. And right now (as of May 2023) you’ll also get a FREE bike pump if you join by direct debit!

Joining the London Cycling Campaign helps us in our campaign for safer streets for everyone. If you join LCC and you live in Newham, you automatically become a member of Newham Cyclists too.

LCC and Newham Cyclists exist to break down barriers and help people of all ages, all races, all genders, all abilities, and all backgrounds benefit from cycling as cheap and convenient transport. Unlike some other organisations, we aren’t bankrolled by fossil fuel firms; we don’t insist on fancy helmets or branded lycra or put people into categories. We believe cycling should be for everyone, not just the fast and the brave.

Joining LCC helps us continue our community outreach work; keeps our Fix Your Ride stalls alive so people can keep their cycles roadworthy; and helps us hold authorities and developers to account in eliminating danger from our streets. You can help us make cycling a mainstream, inclusive, and convenient mode of transport for everyone in Newham and beyond by joining LCC today.

Lots of people with bicycles standing on a paved area (separated from the road by bollards) waiting to set off.

Consultation response: Silvertown Tunnel bus network

We have responded to TfL’s consultation for its initial proposals for the Silvertown Tunnel bus network.

We oppose the Tunnel in general, and also specifically oppose these proposals.

They do not provide anything like a sufficient bus network to mitigate the effects of opening a new urban motorway funnelling traffic into Newham—only one of the new bus routes even serves Newham, and the other is an express from south east London to Canary Wharf.

We would like to see the Tunnel re-tooled as a crossing only for a more substantial public transport network, along with walking and cycling—for which 24/7 step-free links east of Tower Bridge are desperately needed but currently sorely lacking. The mooted cycle-bus trial is also missing from the consultation—so with the Silvertown Tunnel, active travel modes get absolutely nothing.

The consultation is open until tomorrow (11th Jan.) We encourage locals in Newham and beyond to respond with their own views.


Consultation response to LLDC’s Carpenters Road designs

The London Legacy Development Corporation is consulting on highway designs for Carpenters Road, due to re-open with the East Bank/Stratford Waterfront development. The planning references are 22/00256/AOD and 22/00249/NMA and can be checked on LLDC’s planning register.

We have been consulted throughout the design process for this as part of LLDC’s Sustainable and Active Travel Group, and this early engagement has been welcome.

We support the principle of a cycleway on Carpenters Road, but are concerned about the details of the proposals. In particular, we worry that they repeat mistakes made elsewhere in the park (e.g. on Montfichet Road) and don’t adequately deal with speeding and rat-running, which was a major problem before Carpenters Road closed for construction (over 80% of vehicles exceeded the 20mph speed limit.) We think that a longer term solution must involve serious measures to reduce traffic, which would then unlock space for better walking and cycling provision.

You can read our consultation response PDF below.


Take Action: Say YES to plans for new look Westfield Avenue and a fresh start for cycling in the Olympic Park

An artists' impression of a two-way cycle track next to a wide pavement and a 2 lane road, with rain gardens separating the track and the pavement. People say, "so much space!" and "no more dodging trees & bus stops!" and one silhouetted person cycling is marked out as "this could be you in 2025!"

For a long time, Westfield Avenue has been one of the worst places to cycle in our borough. Pedestrian lights across tiny crossovers. Surprise obstacles. Pavement parking. Crossings where you’re expected to wait up to four times on caged traffic islands for the light to turn green. It’s an embarrassment to the Olympic Legacy.

We’re thrilled that the London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council are consulting on a brand new design for Westfield Avenue, which they hope to start building next year and finish by 2025. This is unlike anything we’ve seen in the Olympic Park before: a high quality, best-practice design from the start, with people walking and cycling taking priority over motorists. It’s been 10 long years, but this is much better late than never!

A two-lane road across a bridge, with a bus stop island accessed by a zebra crossing over a two-way cycle track, a pavement on both sides, and planters separating the cycle track from cars.
WESTFIELD AVENUE PLANS: Convenient, comfortable, at a human scale

LLDC and Newham need to know that local people want it. If you visit Westfield or the London Stadium, or if you live nearby at the Carpenters Estate, or in Hackney Wick, East Village, or International Quarter—tell them “yes please!”

Visualisation of a road with trees on both sides and a 2-way cycle track on the left side, with bus stop bypasses and a lighted pedestrian crossing.

Take action by Saturday 30th July

Here’s how to tell LLDC and Newham Council that you like the plans for Westfield Avenue’s makeover:

  1. Go to westfieldavenue.commonplace.is. You might need to provide your email address
  2. Click “Have Your Say”
  3. On the proposals for Westfield Avenue:
    • Say “Strongly Agree” for widened pavements, widened crossing points, improved lighting, and location of bus stops
    • Say “Strongly Agree” for a 3m cycleway separated from the road and pavement with crossings, relocation of bus stops and loading bays, additional cycle stands and e-bike charging, and additional Santander cycle hire facilities on Westfield Avenue
    • Say what you think of the idea to move the Aquatics Centre cycle hire stand to Westfield Avenue, and also the locations of the motorcycle parking, taxi rank, loading bays, and the crossovers and side roads (e.g. at Glasshouse Gardens and Turing Street.)
  4. On the “Additional Features” page:
    • Say “Happy/Love It!” to the seating, trees, and planting on Westfield Avenue
    • Say what you think of the redesigned Stratford Walk (the bridge between Westfield and the Aquatics Centre)
  5. If you have time to write any more…
    • Support the new one-way southbound on Olympic Park Avenue—this will eliminate a rat-run through residential areas and allow a continuous cycle route across the railway line
    • Ask for further work in the future to redesign Marshgate Lane junction, to separate all modes and reduce speeds
    • Ask for a smooth, flat cycle track that’s accessible to all kinds of cycle (including tricycles, wheelchair clip-on hand cycles, recumbents, etc.)

Our Response

You can read our response to the consultation here. We strongly support the proposals, but suggest additional changes to the Marshgate Lane junction in future to fully separate all modes.


MSG Sphere: Open letter to Sadiq Khan

We have written to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to ask him to refuse planning permission for the MSG Sphere when it is referred to him. You can read the text of the letter here, or see the PDF we sent to the Mayor and Dr Will Norman (London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner) at the bottom of the page.

Dear Sadiq,

RE: Please refuse the MSG Sphere planning application (approved by LLDC)

We are Newham Cyclists, part of the London Cycling Campaign.

We are writing to ask you to direct refusal of the planning application for the MSG Sphere (19/00097/FUL) in Stratford, and insist the applicant makes changes to the proposed venue’s transport strategy and public realm design.

The MSG Sphere scheme as approved by the unelected members of LLDC’s planning committee:

  • Locks in a 0.44% mode share for cycling and potentially thousands of extra car trips to each event
  • Builds an important new cycle link that would be heavily used by schoolchildren going between East Village and the London Aquatics Centre—only to then routinely close it at peak times (including school run times) to allow ingress/egress to the Sphere
  • Endangers local people by proposing a highway design for Angel Lane that constitutes at least two “critical fails” according to the Government’s LTN 1/20 standard, locking out safe cycling on Cycle Future Route 7 for potentially decades and building in community severance
  • May overwhelm Stratford station, an already dangerously-congested station which is a critical link for many people (particularly key workers, who have to travel no matter what.) The Sphere proposals only include one extra entrance to the station, and propose nothing to fix the congestion in the platforms and subways
  • Provides no legal mechanism for Newham Council to stop the building operators from showing obnoxious or distracting advertising on the building’s surface that could propose a safety risk, by granting an advertising consent for illuminated video content on the Sphere’s surface for a quarter of a century
Continue reading “MSG Sphere: Open letter to Sadiq Khan”