Peterborough Road cycle path

Peterborough Road from Bishopsford Road (Photo Charles Martin, 2 August 2014)

Peterborough Road, looking east from Bishopsford Road
(Photo: Charles Martin, 2 August 2014)

On the 31 July 2014, Get Sutton Cycling wrote to Sutton Council to ask for a new design to the cycle path linking Peterborough Road with Bishopsford Road in the Wandle Valley ward. The email is reproduced below.

To: Lynn Robinson, Senior Engineer, Highways, Transport and Smarter Travel, London Borough of Sutton
Alex Forrest, Principal Transport Planner, London Borough of Sutton
Rebecca Jones, Area Manager (south and east London), Sustrans
Cllr. Margaret Court (Wandle Valley ward)
Cllr. Jason Reynolds (Wandle Valley ward)
Cllr. Hanna Zuchowska (Wandle Valley ward)
Amy Summers, Activism Coordinator, London Cycling Campaign Lynn, Alex, Rebecca, Margaret, Jason, Hanna and Amy,

The attached photo [see below] was recently received from Stephen Hart, a London Cycling Campaign supporter in Sutton. The location is Peterborough Road looking west towards the cycle link with Bishopsford Road (A217) and the London Borough of Merton (see Google Maps or the Sustrans NCN map). The photo highlights the requirement for alternative arrangements for vehicle parking, and a realignment of the cycle path, at this location. Although Stephen mentioned in his email that the situation when the photo was taken was worse than it normally is, he also made other useful and valid points. These included noting that the surface of the cycle path is poor, and that large bollards and posts take up a lot of space (i.e. they are too large, there are too many of them, and they are poorly sited).


Peterborough Road, looking west towards cycle path link to Bishopsford Road
(Photo: Stephen Hart, July 2014)

We are passing this information on to you because the (potential) importance of this cycle path cannot be underestimated. It not only forms part of the National Cycle Network (route 20), the Wandle Trail, and the Avenue Verte, but it also enables cyclists (in theory) to use quieter roads when travelling between Sutton and Merton. In a few days time (on 9 August) there is to be a cycle ride from Sutton to central London to feed into the Mayor of London’s Ride London weekend (an annual event). Peterborough Road will be part of the route. Occasionally, EcoLocal, a charity based in Carshalton, provides cycle rides for people with disabilities using adapted bikes and tricycles, from the David Weir Arena to Morden Hall Park. Again, Peterborough Road is the route taken as there are few, if any, alternative options.

For all these reasons, the existing access to the Peterborough Road path is simply not good enough to qualify as a good or suitable cycle facility. This infrastructure may have been acceptable when low levels of cycling were expected, or when cycling was seen as a purely leisure activity. But when cycling, which is increasingly been seen as a form of transport, is growing, then something much better is required. A good cycle path would be a path that was appropriate for use by a large number of people on bicycles, either for cycling to work, school, or other day to day activities. A good cycle path would encourage sustainable mobility and facilitate inclusivity of use.

This email is being addressed to all of you in the hope that, between us, a new design for this Peterborough Road cycle path, that will give clear and unhindered access for cyclists, can finally be produced. On behalf of Get Sutton Cycling, I look forward to hearing what you have to say on the issue, and to discuss proposals and ideas.


Charles Martin
Sutton borough coordinator for the London Cycling Campaign
31 July 2014 | @cyclinginsutton | #space4cycling
Get Sutton Cycling represents the London Cycling Campaign in Sutton

Cllr. Jason Reynolds promptly replied on 2 August:

Good morning Charles

Firstly thank you for raising this issue with us.

We will look into this matter and report back to you shortly.

Cllr Jason Reynolds
Ward Councillor for Wandle Valley
London Borough of Sutton

So what are the options for Peterborough Road? There are certainly many examples at nearby locations that illustrate how the provision here could, arguably, be improved. One such example is the linked footway and cycle path between Leominster Walk and St Helier Avenue in the Ravensbury ward in the London Borough of Merton, as shown in the photo below (for location, see Google Maps). This link, at the western end of Leominster Walk, not only provides an essential connection with St Helier Avenue that is free of vehicular traffic, but also connects with Chester Gardens on the other side of St Helier Avenue, and so effectively, and importantly, connects two sides of the St Helier Estate.

Photo showing the delineated footway and cycle path at Leominster Walk, looking east from St Helier Avenue, 22 August 2014

Delineated footway and cycle path at Leominster Walk, looking east from St Helier Avenue
(Photo: Charles Martin, 22 August 2014)

This wider path certainly facilitates more space, and there are fewer obstacles and clutter. But does it provide the best option for everyone, and is this the best that can be done in light of the new London Cycling Design Standards that aims to deliver consistently higher standards from emerging best practice? Whatever is provided, it has to work for everyone.

Clearly, to work as a cycle facility, it is important that people ensure they keep the access/egress point clear when they park their vehicle. But this is not the only issue. One resident of Leominster Walk told me that they had to regularly look out for inconsiderate cyclists “whizzing past at speed” when they walked out of their front garden gate.

A photo showing the interface between the trafficked street and the cycle path/footway at Leominster Walk, looking west towards St Helier Avenue

The interface between the trafficked street and the cycle path/footway at Leominster Walk, looking west towards St Helier Avenue
(Photo: Charles Martin, 22 August 2014)

Perhaps, therefore, a cycle track, dedicated to cyclists and providing physical separation, may be more appropriate than a cycle path at this location. This would not only reduce the likelihood of conflict between users, it could also help keep access clear. Furthermore, by helping to create a more robust cycle network, many more people would undoubtably be encouraged to try cycling for some of their local journeys. And that, of course, is what Space for Cycling is all about. On the other hand, facilitating a cycle track could have an impact on the amount, or distribution, of the existing green space. It is important to consider these issues, and many more, when considering the Peterborough Road to Bishopsford Road cycle link.

In September, Get Sutton Cycling will be re-visiting Peterborough Road and Bishopsford Road. This time the visit will be with representatives of the Council, and, as suggested in our 31 July email, this will be an opportunity to consider the options for improvements that can potentially benefit everyone. If we get it right, this will be the first stage towards making Peterborough Road a better place in which to live, to walk, to play, to cycle and to park the car. With longer term aims of providing protected space for cycling on Bishopsford Road (the Space for Cycling consideration for the Ravensbury ward in Merton) and at Rosehill roundabout (our ‘ask’ for the St Helier (Sutton) ward), a transformation in the experience of cycling in Sutton would well and truly be underway.

Update 30 October 2014

Following a visit to Peterborough Road on 17 September 2014 with supports of Get Sutton Cycling, the Council has agreed to proceed with a review of this cycle path. At the Council’s Cycle Forum meeting on 29 October, Lynn Robinson confirmed that this was being looked at and and that improvements would be financed from “minor funds”.

Update 27 October 2015

At Sutton Council’s Cycle Forum meeting on 16 September 2015 (so, nearly a year later), Lynn Robinson advised that the upgrade to the Peterborough Road cycle path, a “minor” cycling improvement, would go ahead before the end of March 2016. “Keep Clear” was to be painted on the carriageway (see Notes from our September 2015 meeting).

Update 19 January 2016

An update on Peterborough Road, received from Sutton Council on 19 January 2016, simply stated “No action”.

Update 25 April 2016

At Sutton Council’s Cycle Forum meeting on 15 March 2016, the “no action” stance for the minor schemes work on Peterborough Road, reported in January 2016, was questioned. After all, if it takes eighteen months to get nowhere with this, what chance is there of getting any mini-Holland funding should this be a future option?

We were told that work on Peterborough Road (expected to comprise of nothing more now than painted “Keep Clear” signs) was now to be carried-over to the next financial year (April 2016 – March 2017). This was a result of a resource issue, linked to the council’s ongoing restructuring. This included the introduction of “shared services” with Kingston. Furthermore, a lot of people within Sutton Council were retiring, and were not being replaced.

Some more information was then provided. The Strategy and Commissioning team is now led by Ian Price (formerly Paul Blunt who has left), and Ian is in charge of both Kingston and Sutton. There are three people working for Ian specifically on “parking”. That’s interesting, becasue, of course, parking and cycling are linked, and the issue with Peterborough Road is as much to do with parking as it is cycling.

One of the responsibilities of the Design and Delivery team is to manage and deliver the LIP programme. This team is currently not well resourced and, as a result, many of the the LIP schemes have not been delivered this year and are being carried forward to the next year.

It would be useful to have a statement outlining these issues from Sutton Council. So we asked Cllr. Manual Abellan, who was present at the Cycle Forum meeting,  if this could be arranged.

It was confirmed that Peterborough Road will be dealt with in the coming financial year





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