Thames Path, Charlton, 9 February 2013

It hasn’t been the best of weekends to enjoy it, but the Thames Path is one of the best things about this part of London. If you take the borough as a whole, Greenwich borough has the longest riverfront in London, and as well as a walking route, it’s a designated cycle route too.

A scrutiny panel of councillors has been looking into ways of improving it as a cycle route, and officers have come up with a report – you can read it here (4MB PDF). It features some good ideas, such as sorting out the irritating cobbles at Greenwich Millennium Village, changing signs so they read “North Greenwich” rather than “Blackwall Point”, and (yes!) installing cycle stands outside the Pelton Arms pub.

Councillors are meeting on Tuesday night to discuss it – and the public’s welcome to come along and ask questions if they want. A lot of attention will be on plugging the gap between the Thames Barrier in Charlton and King Henry’s Wharf in Woolwich, something which would dramatically change the way the path is seen – as well as helping people access the fantastic Second Floor Arts facility at Warspite Road.

Thames Path, 9 February 2013

That said, hopefully there’ll be room for my own gripe to be addressed – sticking some signs up to get pedestrians out of the cycle path by the cable car (and cyclists out of the pedestrian bits), where markings were worn away by the cable car contractors and not reinstated, while the pedestrian bit was never marked.

I’ve seen some sights commuting along the path over recent months, and sooner or later someone is going to come a cropper – or prompt someone else to come to grief – some day for paying more attention to their iPad than their surroundings.

My other gripe is that it doesn’t do much about improving access to the path – but this seems like an encouraging start.

20 replies on “Talking about cycling on Greenwich’s Thames Path”

  1. A lot to look at here, but looks pretty intersting on scanning through the PDF! I use the path almost very day on my cycle route to and from work on the Woolwich Arsenal up to Greenwich so any improvements would be welcome!

  2. I quite the cobbled sections, there not massive, and add a little Paris Roubrix to the ride. The bigger problem on that part of the river is the amount of sand on the route, whcih is you’re not experienced, causes accidents.

  3. Enough of the whinges about pedestrians not paying attention please. It’s a path that cuts across a tourist / infrequent visitor transport exchange and it really isn’t hard to make allowances. On top of that the council has stupidly allowed new flats to be built right up alongside cycle path on the peninsula, and of course theres plenty social housing which equals plenty children without a garden. Cyclists need to get a grip and stop being so militant. I saw some idiot riding straight at a toddler screaming for her to move just the other day. At least the GMV cobbles slow bikes down a bit. And yes I do ride a bike regularly, including for commuting.

  4. Hi,

    Thanks for mentioning the report. There’s an awful lot in it but there’s a lot of promise. I hope that we can make quick progress on the ‘missing link’ and the rest is a gradual process but it’s a start. Some councillors did a site visit at the weekend to see those aspects of the path and I hope we can do that again later in the year to see how things have progressed.

    The trouble with shared space is that you have to share it. I think that a little consideration from everyone, and acknowledgement that everyone including cyclists have a right to use the path, could go a long way. The lack of signage is noted and I’ll raise it.

    If anyone has any comments feel free to email me on

  5. I think it depends on the cycle route we want. (Or the council wants.) I’ve just cycled back in the sleet from London Bridge, and not being brave enough to face the Rotherhithe Tunnel roundabout with a face-ful of snow, I took the cycle route through the Surrey Docks – there’s plenty of cobbles on that, but they’re flat, like the ones on Ballast Quay, and it’s meant to be a low-speed leisure route anyway, like most of the rest of the path. No problem here.

    But the stretch on the east side of the peninsula looks like it has been designed as somewhere where cyclists can go a bit faster – it wouldn’t have the separate lane otherwise. The cobbles may be designed as temporary checks on speed, but they’re the wrong shape and as they are, they’re frankly dangerous.

  6. What Thames cycle path? The last time you could pedal from say Greenwich to the Dome along the river unobstructed by building works and closed sections Benedict the First was still Pope.

  7. No Darryl I didn’t describe the post as a whinge, just the pointless throwaway last comment that undermines any arguments that vocal cyclists like yourself make about inconsiderate motorists. Fact is that no matter how green the tarmac, and how reflective the signposts, people who come to the O2 or for a dangle on the cable car have other things on their mind and will wander into the cycle path. Ring your bell, slow down, even stop and try to explain that the pictures of bicycles on the floor are a pretty good hint, but don’t for a moment expect that to ever change.

  8. I don’t consider those cobbles dangerous, there not loose, there aren’t gaps between them, and they’re certainly not the most bobbly I’ve ridden across in London. There there as much to warn car drivers that there on a shared area, for 5 seconds you just have a bit of a rumble.

    The same applies for the area east of the Canal in Woolwich, the area is crap cause its floods on regular basis when the barrier closes, during the summer its pretty good, in the winter you have to dodge a few puddles, but then if you’re riding in the winter, you’ll likely to get wet and have to clean the bike on a regular basis anyway. I suspect the Environment Agency might object to soft defences being covered in tarmac.

    Getting ride of the pointless barriers and gates is for the important thing, as well as the council getting the route cleaned on a regular basis, there is, and has been a real problem with broken glass, and it not being cleaned. Give me 5 seconds of cobbles, over trying to get a shard of glass out of a wheel, and having to fix a inner tube (hate it, hate it, hate it)

  9. Thanks for the heads up about this.

    I just emailed Mary Mills and asked the council does not remove the cobbles. As someone who lives by the river there and has children who play on the grass and play area anything that slows down the cyclists is good.

    Many children, resident and visiting, use the area to play, scoot and ride their bikes and is not an area suitable for high speed travel.

    Only last summer I was forced to push an aggressive cyclist off his bike before he hit someone elses child.

  10. @Sacha & Craig: cyclists and pedestrians aren’t the only people who use the path (or who would if it wasn’t so patchy). The cobbles are unpleasant and unnecessary. And there are other effective ways of slowing down traffic if that’s so much of a problem.there – I don’t agree that it is.

    And pushing someone off their bike? It sounds like you’re the person with a aggression problems!

  11. Actually the guy I pushed off his bike was thankful I had stopped him from running over and seriously injuring someones toddler.

    I helped him up and he apologized to the parents and I apologized to him. He was relatively unhurt, the toddler wouldn’t have been.

    But my point is that in the summer than is an incredibly busy area, with children, runners, skaters, pedestrians and cyclists. 90% of the cyclists are happy to slow down or glide around other users of the path, but a small number treat the run as a speed track, and it just isn’t safe to cycle at full pelt through crowds of people, past children’s play areas and people’s front doors.

  12. Sacha, if they’re flat topped cobbles (what the Germans delightfully call kinderkopf) then its a Paris-Roubaix experience. Britain’s little stony cobbles are very different and IME a danger to cyclists and pedestrians in the wet.

    Beyond that it sounds like the path suffers from being in such a secluded place by the river. Gets dirty and sandy in bad weather, attractive to ne’er-do-wells who leave broken glass. Out of sight, out of mind?

  13. They are flat topped, wide, not very stoney, and set pretty flat to the concerte they are set in. They are far from nasty and high.

  14. They are bumpy and very nasty if you have a racing bike with narrow HP tyres. Unlike theFlandrain ones, they are not overlapped so you can get stuck in between them. Dangerous. Whatever you think of them, they do not comply with DoT guidance on shared use path surface treatment.

  15. Cor blimey, let’s celebrate something together for a change. Some of the report was done in very close consultation with Greenwich Cyclists, and any consultation is so very welcome from our Council. But as the late great Barry Mason used to say “implementation is all”.
    PS We were not consulted about the sets (they are not cobbles) near Harrison Way and would probably have no view whatsoever.

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