April 2000 - June 2001
It has been a great first year for Greenwich Cyclists with loads of rides, events and campaigning for better cycle infrastructure. Well done to everybody who has got involved! This first annual report summarises our main activities from April 2000 to May 2001, and plans for what we hope to do over the coming year.
Our Annual General Meeting is on 6 June 2001 at The Forum, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich.
Greenwich Cyclists have developed in the first year from being a small group of people concerned to develop cycling in Greenwich into a major local voluntary group. On a operating budget of £1,000 we:
- have organised over 50 rides in Greenwich and south east England,
- publish a monthly newsletter, Pedal Power distributed free
- have a web site (www.greenwichcyclists.org.uk),
- have organised cycle training for over 70 people in Greenwich
- are regular contact with several hundred local cyclists.
We have lobbied Greenwich Council to improve cycling infrastructure in the borough, and were instrumental in opening part of the Thames cycle path in April 2001 at Mast Pond Wharf in Woolwich. We have also worked with the Council in relation to the path around the Dome, Woolwich Arsenal, Greenwich Peninsula. We have been consulted by Transport for London.
In 2001 we were appointed official Sustrans Ranger for the National Cycle Network between Greenwich and Dartford. We are the first cycling group in the United Kingdom to be given Ranger status by Sustrans.
In October 2000 we proposed to Greenwich Council plans for a Car Free Day festival in Greenwich town centre on 22 September 2001 which we hope the Council will now support.
Forming Greenwich Cyclists:
Following leafleting of cyclists passing through Greenwich one wet morning in March 2000, over 30 people attended a meeting at The Forum in East Greenwich on 12 April to discuss cycling in the borough. Talks were given by the Borough Cycling Officer, Dave Moorhouse, London Cycling Campaign Director Peter Lewis, and by Isobel Stodart, the London Project Manager for Sustrans, the charity developing the National Cycle Network. At that meeting it was agreed to set up Greenwich Cyclists.
The group was formally set up in April 2000, and we have met regularly on the first Wednesday of each month since then. We agreed to be affiliated to the London Cycling Campaign and have a formal constitution and equal opportunities policy. This helps in attracting funding.
Aims of Greenwich Cyclists:
Our aims have been refined into three main activities:
We organise numerous rides ranging from short local rides of 2 - 3 miles for inexperienced and young cyclists, to participating in the overnight 120 mile Dunwich Dynamo from London to Suffolk - and all distances in between;
We engage with Councillors and Council officers to lobby for improvements in local infrastructure including better cycle routes and cycle parking;
We are developing our membership and publicity for various events in Greenwich.
Greenwich Cyclists was been funded for the first year by a single grant of £400 from the Greenwich Agenda 21 scheme. We rely on the work of volunteers. We encourage anyone to get involved. However, we have also been successful in raising other monies for particular activities including funds to run events during Greenwich Women's Week, and a Greenwich Pride Award of £1,000 towards producing cycle maps and guides. We have applied for other funds in order to cover our regular overheads which include hiring rooms at The Forum for our monthly meetings, publishing our newsletter and publicising our rides. Unfortunately an application to Greenwich Council's Social Inclusion Unit for funds to cover these costs was declined, but we shall continue to apply for funds from various sources.
Greenwich Cyclists have organised 54 rides in our first year, together with various other rides with local groups. These include local short rides organised for all ages, families and novice cyclists, as well as longer rides throughout south east England for more experienced cyclists.
We have started regular "Kids and Parents" monthly rides starting at John Harrison Way on Greenwich Peninsula or outside St John's church on Stratheden Road, on the north side of Blackheath. These rides along the Thames Cycle path are designed to be off road and safe for children. When the route by the Woolwich Arsenal is finally opened we hope to organise rides from the Woolwich Waterfront along the river - again off road and safe.
Liz Delap, Eeva Berglund, Barbara Henley, Barry Mason Jim Watkins and Bob Woodliff have led a surprising and innovative variety of other rides: along the Thames path west to Richmond and Richmond Park, and many trips east to Erith, Dartford, Gravesend and the 65 miles to Whitstable. We tend to design our own rides and never repeat them, each to the same destination is varied, many are new explores. We've crossed the Thames at Dartford and Gravesend and explored the Rainham Marshes. We joined a big charity ride to Windsor, and back. We went to Southend and up to Burnham via the ferry. We went to Dungeness and the Romney Marshes several times. Ten of us went to Cornwall for a long weekend in May 2001 and cycled from the Tate St Ives to the Eden Project at St Austell. Lots of rides were gentle docklands explores and variations of our "locks, docks and one smoking ferry" ride. We went to Kew's new millennium seedbank at Wakehurst Place and organised a professional guide for a Greenwich history tour by bike. 23 people turned up for the unrehearsed last resort ride - a brave explore where we got the train to Whistable and rode round the coast to Dover; 12 resorts in a day and much swimming. The most memorable ride - perhaps the overnight Dunwich Dynamo. These are all social rides, paced to suit everyone. Distances vary from 10 mile Docklands explores to the Dunwich Dynamo which is 120 miles.
Millennium Festival of Cycling:
In June 2000 we organised our main summer event, a series of 12 rides during the Millennium Festival of Cycling which attracted over 100 local cyclists. The highlight of the week was the Solstice Ride starting at Greenwich at 2am (yes am) to Soho and then on through London to Primrose Hill to watch the sun rise on the longest day, 21 June 2000. This coincided with the formal opening of the National Cycle Network. The focus of the network in London is Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich, which is the junction of four routes through the capital. Greenwich Cyclists joined others to celebrate the day both at the main Sustrans event on the South Bank and at a cyclists reception in Greenwich addressed by the Mayor of Greenwich. Other rides that week included a Greenwich history ride, and a police-escorted commuter convoy ride to breakfast with Southwark Cyclists.
Greenwich Cyclists have been campaigning all year for better provision of cycle infrastructure in the borough. Despite some developments, notably the Thames Cycle Path, the record of Greenwich Council has been mixed. We are particularly concerned that Greenwich Council failed to spend its allocated budget for cycling in 2000, particularly as a lack of funds is often given as an excuse for not providing more cycle infrastructure. We hope that Greenwich will do better over the coming year.
We are also concerned that existing cycle routes and infrastructure along some routes have been poorly planned with little understanding of the needs of cyclists. Accident figures for cyclists in Greenwich are not good, and recent serious accidents have occurred to cyclists using existing cycle routes suggesting that a lot of further work is needed to make this form of transport safe and attractive for people to use.
Greenwich Cyclists conducted a series of surveys and questionnaires of cyclists in the borough, between June and October 2000. These have shown that there is considerable demand to cycle, particularly from people wishing to cycle to work, but that people are concerned about road safety and the lack of adequate cycle lanes and cycle parking facilities. People highlighted the fact that many fast direct routes between Woolwich, Greenwich, Eltham, and central London and Docklands have little or no provision for cyclists, or what provision does exist is poorly conceived, making journeys between these centres by bicycle dangerous and unattractive. This is frustrating for many.
Journey times by bike between Greenwich and central London or Greenwich and Canary Wharf are considerably less than either car or train, and are rarely subject to delay. Our surveys have shown that over 300 people pass through Greenwich each morning on bikes travelling to central London and Docklands. Greenwich Cyclists considers that Greenwich and other neighbouring councils need to consider the issue of fast, safe cycling commuter routes much more seriously. Cyclists have highlighted Greenwich town centre and Creek Road as particularly dangerous, yet these roads are the main cycling route into London from the borough.
Greenwich Cyclists have been approached about the issue by Transport for London and the London Cycling Campaign, and we intend to pursue our ideas for a protected commuter cycle route over the coming months.
In addition we have lobbied for more funds for Safe Routes to Schools initiatives. We are pleased that Greenwich Council has applied and been granted funds to employ extra officers to pursue this initiative and we look forward to working with the relevant officers on this.
Successful new cycle routes:
We have been successful in encouraging the Council to develop several routes. In mid-2000 we supported a proposed route along Pear Tree Way on the Greenwich Peninsula and this is being completed in June 2001. In April 2001 we lobbied the Council to open part of the Thames River path at Mast Pond Wharf, just west of Woolwich ferry terminal. This was built in one week and opened just in time for the Mayor's Ride on 29 April. We have also lobbied hard for the Woolwich Arsenal riverside route and the riverside route around the Dome to be opened. The Woolwich Arsenal site was opened on 27 May, and we hope the route around the Dome will be opened at the end of June 2001.
Greenwich Council Interim Transport Plan:
In April 2000 we wrote a formal response to the Council's Interim Transport Plan. We welcome the fact that the Council has stated that cycling should be a priority method of transport in Greenwich, but most people in Greenwich are nervous of using bikes for local travel because of dangerous roads and a lack of an integrated cycle network. Despite Greenwich Council stating in the ITP that cycling and walking are priority areas above car transport, it is clear that this is not always put into practice. For example, the recent road changes in central Greenwich in late 1999 ignored the needs of cyclists. Cycle routes on main roads used by commuter cyclists are not continuous and are rarely protected. A classic example is Woolwich Road which has been widened to four motor traffic lanes and cycle lanes. The new cycle lanes are not continuous and no physical protection such as bollards or kerbs has been installed to divide the heavy motor traffic on that road from cyclists. This means the cycle lanes attract few cyclists despite this being a flat and direct route that could link Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich. We hope that protection can be installed, and that similar errors are not repeated by the Council, given its priorities as stated in the ITP.
We have a good working relationship with Dave Moorhouse, the borough cycling officer, and have been highlighting areas where improvements in provision for cyclists could be made. Dave has been working on a series of cycle route improvements throughout the borough and we look forward to supporting him in this.
We have proposed to various councillors that a formal cycle and pedestrian liaison committee be established, attended by councillors, relevant Council officers and interested groups that would meet regularly to consider many of these issues. Similar groups exist in other London boroughs and work well.
Cycle training and Greenwich Womens' Week:
We have organised formal training by women for women for novice or nervous cyclists who are keen to ride but have not had sufficient experience to feel confident. We have teamed up with Brixton Cycles who organised cycle training for novice cyclists. In March 2001 we organised four rides and two cycle maintainence courses for women as part of Greenwich Women's Week. The events were supported by a £400 grant from Greenwich Women's Unit which helped to pay for professional cycle trainers. Mel Alwood of Brixton Cycles came and led rides as well as the two maintenance sessions. 66 women attended the events. Over 20 women attended one of the maintenance sessions, highlighting the strong demand for this kind of event in Greenwich. We intend to organise regular courses for women and men later in 2001 which will include training in simple cycle maintenance, riding skills and information about cycling in and around Greenwich. We hope to work closely with the Road Safety officer at Greenwich Council to develop this type of course.
Mayor of Greenwich's Ride:
Greenwich Cyclists organised and stewarded the Mayor's bike ride from Greenwich to Erith along the river Thames cycle path on 29 April 2001. The event attracted 350 riders (up from just over 100 riders the year before). The event was so successful that it is hoped to make it an annual event in Greenwich. Next year we hope to attract many more cyclists. The event raised over £3000 for local disabled children's charities.
Publicity and special events:
In May 2000 we started our monthly newsletter which is distributed to several hundred cyclists. Pedal Power has proved popular with local cyclists and has allowed the group to publicise rides, meetings and also campaign on particular issues including highlighting problems for commuter cyclists. Ten editions of Pedal Power have been published, and we look forward to developing the newsletter over the coming year. We need help producing and circulating the newsletter.
We have launched our website: www.greenwichcyclists.org.uk
Rides and news are publicised on the website and in Pedal Power.
London Cycling Campaign:
We have good links with LCC and with local affiliated groups including Southwark Cyclists and Lewisham Cyclists. We will continue to develop these links and work closely with all groups, particularly in developing proposals for cycle commuter routes. We go to a couple of meetings a month at LCC HQ.
In August we had a stand at the Charlton Athletic Football Club open day. Barry Mason did a live broadcast extolling the virtues of cycling to two very plump DJs on Millennium FM, and we raffled a bike kindly donated by Action Bikes. We also organised a cycle assault course for over 200 young cyclists. We hope to develop further links with the club.
We have been developing excellent links with Sustrans, the engineering charity responsible for developing the National Cycle Network. We now work closely with Isobel Stoddart, the London co-ordinator for Sustrans developing the network and links to the network in Greenwich. Isobel has been to several of our meetings, and we meet with her regularly to discuss cycle planning issues. We are developing a proposal for a London cycling centre of excellence in Greenwich which is receiving strong support from Isobel and her colleagues at Sustrans.
In April 2001 Greenwich Cyclists was appointed official Sustrans Ranger for the National Cycle Network between Greenwich and Dartford. We are the first cycling group in the United Kingdom to be given Ranger status by Sustrans and we look forward to co-operating closely with Sustrans to expand the National Cycle Network in Greenwich.
The Future - Plans for 2001:
We have published a programme of rides for 2001. This will be developed through the year, but we intend to increase the number and range of rides. In particular, we intend to have regular local rides for novice and inexperienced cyclists, and to explore different parts of the borough. Following the success of the events during Greenwich Women's Festival in March 2001, we intend to try and raise resources to organise a series of evening training courses for adults which will include bike maintainence and information about local cycle routes and resources.
We are organising seven rides for National Bike Week 2001 between 16 and 24 June (more than any other London borough group!).
The Mayor of Greenwich's Sponsored Cycle Ride 2002:
Following the success of Greenwich Cyclists organising the Mayor's Charity Ride on 29 April 2001 we hope to be involved in next year's ride and to attract many more cyclists. We hope to turn it into a major South East London event.
In July 2001 we shall be at the Plumstead Anti-Racist Festival with a stall and cycle assault course for children.
Car Free Day 2001
In October 2000 we sent a proposal to Greenwich Council for Greenwich to organise an event in the town centre to be publicised as a "Visit Greenwich without your car" festival on 22 September 2001 to coincide with national Car Free Day and Open House Weekend. Our idea was to build on similar successful events held in Southwark, Lambeth and Camden in September 2000. Car Free Day has received support from Transport for London, and we are pleased that Greenwich Council has been positive about the idea. We have developed some exciting ideas to work with local organisations including theatres, museums and local market traders to animate a day of street entertainment and fun which could transform Greenwich town centre. We look forward to working with Greenwich Council over the next six months to make such a day a success. We hope that Greenwich could be a flagship event in London.
We look forward to continuing to work with Greenwich Council to develop cycle routes, cycle parking and other infrastructure in the borough, and with Sustrans to complete the National Cycle Network route along the river Thames. We are hoping to improve feedback from the council as to its plans for cycle routes so that local cyclists can be involved in the planning process and developing routes - cycle routes need to go where cyclists want to ride!
We are developing excellent relations with Transport for London (TfL), and will be supporting and working with the new Cycling Centre of Excellence being set up by TfL. We are already supporting a scheme for a commuter cycle route to link Greenwich and central London.
Our regular monthly meetings happen on the first Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm at The Forum, 177 Trafalgar Rd, East Greenwich. Be there!
SCHEDULE OF RIDES
21 MAY: WE HELPED SET UP AND STEWARD THE FIRST GREENWICH MAYOR'S RIDE TO
10 JUNE: GRAVESEND
17 JUNE: THAMES PATH LOCAL EXPLORE
18 JUNE: LOCKS, DOCKS AND ONE SMOKING FERRY
20 JUNE: BIKE BREAKFAST
21 JUNE: SUMMER SOLSTICE SUNRISE RIDE, AND SUSTRANS LAUNCH
23 JUNE: AFTERWORK RIVER RIDE
24 JUNE: GUIDED HISTORY RIDE
25 JUNE: LEWISHAM PARKS AND GREEN CHAIN RIDE
12 JULY: DUNWICH DYNAMO
22 JULY: GRAVESEND FERRY AND OVER
23 JULY: WOOLWICH FERRY AND DOCKS EXPLORE
6 AUGUST: CHARLTON FOOTBALL CLUB
12 AUGUST: SOUTHEND AND BURNHAM
27 AUGUST: DUNGENESS
3 SEPTEMBER: WINDSOR AND BACK
8 SEPTEMBER: GRAVESENDAND OVER
22 SEPTEMBER: CAR-FREE DAY IN SOUTHWAR
24 SEPTEMBER: DOCKLANDS 30 MILER
8 OCTOBER: SURREY HILLS FALLING LEAVES
14 OCTOBER: DUNGENESS
22 OCTOBER: DOCKLANDS EXPLORE
4 OCTOBER: WHITSTABLE
11 OCTOBER: GRAVESEND AND OVER
19 OCTOBER: PECKHAM PARKS
4 NOVEMBER: WHITSTABLE
11 NOVEMBER: GRAVESEND AND OVER
19 NOVEMBER: PECKHAM HISTORY RIDE
2 DECEMBER: THAMES PATH TO RICHMOND PARK
10 DECEMBER: DARTFORD BRIDGE AND OVER
17 DECEMBER: PARKS RIDE
31 DECEMBER: NEW YEAR'S EVE RIDE
13 JANUARY: REDHILL
21 JANUARY: KENT HILLS MEANDER
3 FEBRUARY: SOUTHEND AND ESTUARY EXPLORE
11 FEBRUARY: DOCKLANDS AND LEA VALLEY
18 FEBRUARY: DARTFORD AND OVER
25 FEBRUARY: DARENTH VALLEY
10 MARCH: BEGINNERS RIDE
10 MARCH: WHITSTABLE
11 MARCH: FLOOD BARRIER
17 MARCH: ROAD SKILLS RIDE
17 MARCH: GRAVESEND AND TILBURY FORT
18 MARCH: DOCKLANDS AND EXCEL
25 MARCH: BISHOPS STORTFORD
7 APRIL: DUNGENESS
22 APRIL: BURNHAM
29 APRIL: MAYOR'S RIDE TO ERITH
5 MAY: LOCKS, DOCKS ETC
6 MAY: ESSEX ESTUARIES
11 MAY: ST IVES, MEVAGISSEY AND THE EDEN PROJECT WEEKENDER
19 MAY: BURNHAM FERRY
27 MAY: MACMILAN CHAIRTY RIDE TO WOOLWICH ARSENAL
2 JUNE: LIZ'S SUDBURY RIDE
3 JUNE: WATERLINK WAY AND GREEN CHAIN