Wallington ought to be a honey pot for people on bikes. It has major shopping chains, but on a human scale, plenty of smaller shops and varied eating places, a regular farmers’ market, a post office and a railway station popular all day, not just for commuting. There are large secondary schools just north and south of the town centre which is surrounded, literally encircled, by residential areas made up of quiet roads, which easily link together to make reasonably pleasant cycle routes, some already signed and some not. To the north you can link up with signed route 75 from Sutton to Croydon through Beddington Park, and to the south there is an alternative route between the same areas. To the west there is national cycle route 20 which runs north and south. All those residential streets should be full of people cycling from home to their local town centre.
However, you don’t see too many people cycling to Wallington town centre. It is not surprising why.
National route 20 (Park Lane) is a busy, heavily trafficked road, with a nasty piece of cycling infrastructure on the Boundary Road rail bridge which forces cyclists out into fast flowing traffic. At the southern end of Boundary Road there is a busy roundabout with unhelpful cycling provision; at the northern end (Park Lane) there are busy road junctions.
In Wallington, Woodcote Road has been narrowed through the shops. On a bike you share the one lane in each direction with buses that have stopped to load up in the middle of the traffic flow, other traffic stopping and starting at traffic lights and trying to overtake buses in both directions, plus cars reversing out of parking places, not to mention pedestrians darting over the narrowed road.
It is true there is a neat protected cycle contraflow by Lidl in Beddington Gardens. Nice idea- could be copied in so many places. But what does it lead to? Manor Road/ Woodcote Road, full of cars, buses and lorries moving off at speed from traffic lights just north and south of the rail bridge. Crossing over into Ross Parade means a nasty right turn too. No wonder some cyclists use the wide pavement under the railway bridge.
So Wallington may be surrounded by good cycling areas but the town centre, despite its attractions, is a fortress designed to keep bikes out.
Is there an alternative way in? One road parallel to Woodcote Road is Shotfield (to the west), but it is often full of traffic, including buses and coaches etc., usually moving fast, along with cars eager to get in or out of the car park.
Strangely there is another possibility.
This route – with one exception – requires only a relatively small amount of attention, to create a kind of cycle superhighway (well, a clear route without too much traffic) from Beddington Park all the way south almost to Woodcote Green, allowing someone on a bike easy and safe access to all the shops and other facilities. It is a way of opening up the cycling potential of the whole area, because it links with other routes, with residential areas and it provides safe and easy access on a bicycle to the Wallington town centre area.
|Route description from the north to the south||Action needed|
|1||Beddington Park, from signed route 75 to the car park||Allow cycling on the very short distance between route 75 and the road to the car park; perhaps improve the surface.|
|2||Car park to Croydon Road||Signage needed|
|3||Crossing Croydon Road||There is already an island refuge for pedestrians. This could be adapted to accommodate cyclists.|
|4||Bute Road||No action needed apart from signage|
|5||Right into Belmont Road||No action needed apart from signage (Melbourne Road could be used as an alternative)|
|6||Left into Bridge Road||No action needed apart from signage|
|7||Across the railway bridge||No action needed apart from signage|
|8||Ahead up Clarendon Road||Road markings need to be improved at the southern exit from the railway bridge. The current situation leads a cyclist on this route to believe they have priority over Ross Parade traffic; yet motorists approaching from Ross Parade are also led to believe they have right of way over the junction with Clarendon Road. This is an extraordinarily dangerous situation.|
|9||South end of Clarendon Road: slope up towards Stafford Road.||Need for dropped edges and signage to make this a cyclable route.|
|10||Crossing Stafford Road.||Although there are traffic lights nearby, to control cars using the supermarket car park, this is currently a major barrier for cycling. It is not easy to cycle across Stafford Road; it is not easy to walk your bike across Stafford Road either. It is the one point on the route that needs significant attention. This is the only major work needed on this route.|
|11||The whole length of Onslow Gardens to its junction with Shirley Road, where it is possible to join other established cycle routes or simply make use of the quiet back streets to continue a journey to the west, the south or the east.||No action needed apart from signage.|
This should be an easy win. No parking to be removed. Only one major piece of thinking required for Stafford Road. Plus some signs and road markings.