Old Royal Naval College
The Old Royal Naval College grounds have been closed since the start of the lockdown Credit: The Greenwich Wire

The Old Royal Naval College says it is “monitoring government advice” on reopening its grounds, after calls on social media for it to allow cyclists once again to help them navigate their way through Greenwich.

Routes for both pedestrians and cyclists from west to east Greenwich have been severely cut since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, with the Thames Path closed by Greenwich Council and the gates of the college grounds also closed. In addition, pedestrians have been hit by Greenwich Park closing at 7pm, leaving busy Romney Road as the only route connecting the two parts of SE10.

While Greenwich Council has widened pedestrian space in the streets around the market, this has left less space for cyclists, who then also have to compete with fast-moving traffic on Romney Road because of the closure of the college grounds, which are on the Thames cycle route.

Two years ago, Oliver Speke, aged 46, was killed after he was struck by a lorry while trying to cycle along the road.

“Cyclists are still condemned to sharing a very narrow space with vehicles in the town centre and Romney Road,” the East Greenwich Residents Association said on Twitter.

“Nothing will change,” it said, until the Old Royal Naval College “does the right thing and reopens the cycle route through their grounds.”

Great start and a huge boon to pedestrians but cyclists are still condemned to sharing a very narrow space with vehicles in the town centre and Romney Road. Nothing will change that until @orncgreenwich does the right thing and reopens the cycle route through their grounds. https://t.co/fp0rdhiiRR

— EGRA (@EGRA_London) May 18, 2020

However, a college spokesperson told 853 it was watching government advice and warned that any opening would have to be “gradual”.

“We are monitoring advice from the government and working with all our partners on plans to gradually reopen the Old Royal Naval College,” she said.

“The reopening of our grounds and buildings will have to be gradual and phased with everyone’s experience likely to be different from usual, including the need for us to manage capacity.

“Our charitable objectives are to conserve and protect this historic site. We also have a duty of care to our staff including our small team of groundsmen; our site users and visitors and we are reviewing all our health and safety policies and procedures with everyone in mind to ensure we open spaces safely and responsibly.”

Greenwich Council has pledged to bring forward plans for a Greenwich to Woolwich cycle route if it can get funding from TfL, which has included the route in a map of planned schemes to enable people to ride safely during the pandemic. TfL itself has planned to bring forward completion of its Cycleway 4 route from Tower Bridge to Deptford Creek Bridge.

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