Sutton Council officers wrote to Get Sutton Cycling, and other stakeholders, on 19 February 2020 with the very welcome news that Transport for London had agreed to fund a link between the proposed Sutton to Morden/Colliers Wood Cycleway and St. Helier Hospital. A concept design had been completed, and a plan of this was provided (see Figure 1). Officers asked for feedback on the design by 28 February.
Get Sutton Cycling replied to officers, with feedback, on 21 February:
Thank you very much for the brilliant news that TfL and the borough are moving forward the link between the proposed Cycleway and St Helier Hospital! We are delighted that the green light has been given to deliver this major enhancement to the project.
Many thanks also for sharing the concept design. From an initial view on the detail, we are broadly very supportive. As outlined in our response to the original consultation, we really want the link designed with ‘future-proofing’ and ‘added-value’ in mind. There is a real opportunity to extend this scheme along all of Wrythe Lane. Therefore, before this scheme is signed off, we believe it would be useful to have some reassurance from TfL that bidirectional tracks on the east side of Wrythe Lane are the best infrastructure option to form the basis of an extended facility.
In regard to the proposals for the eastern end of the cycle-path, by the hospital crossing and Tweeddale Road, there is concern that the proposed shared-use area around the bus-stop, and the proposed toucan crossing, will introduce conflict between those on foot and those cycling in this crowded area. Also, the design plan of the proposed new two-way cycleway path, to link with one-way Tweeddale Road, would require users from Tweeddale Road to perform a tight 300-degree turn in order to access the path if delivered as shown. It would be appreciated if some thought could be given to address these issues.
Thanks again for your time, and your support for active travel!
A small victory for us….
In some ways, the confirmation that TfL has agreed to fund a cycle link between the Cycleway and St Helier Hospital, as a result of the consultation, is a small victory for us. After all, in our response to the Cycleway (St Helier section) consultation in November 2019, we said:
“…there are some aspects associated with the proposed Cycleway project in the St Helier area that could benefit from a review. For example, it would be welcome to see the provision of high-quality links to connect the Cycleway with St Helier Hospital and the David Weir Leisure Centre”.
Council officers then fed back to us the following month (overview here), saying:
“The original scheme did not include links however we are now looking at a link to the hospital as TfL have agreed to split the route in to 2 phases with the Bishopsford Rd to St.Helier Hospital section funded to implementation in phase 1 in 2019/20”.
It should also be remembered that we expressed our disappointment that there were “no plans to provide a cycle path link with St Helier Hospital, especially given that the Quietway passes within twenty metres of the hospital’s car park”, in June 2016 (see ‘Sutton’s proposed first Quietway: what is required to make it a success?‘).
…. but, how good is the proposed link?
As reflected in our reply to Sutton Council officers, there is broad support for the proposal. There is concern, however, that the design is not the best option. In our review of the feedback we had received from the council to the consultation we reaffirmed our recommendation, made in our response to the consultation, that Cycleway junctions ideally needed to be ‘future-proofed’ and that cycle infrastructure needed to provide ‘added-value’. In other words, any cycling infrastructure constructed as part of the link, would, ideally, be of as much use for people cycling along Wrythe Lane between, for example, Carshalton and Rose Hill or between Wallington and Morden, as it was for people cycling/scooting between the Cycleway and the hospital. That is why we have asked for some reassurance that bidirectional tracks on the east side of Wrythe Lane are the best infrastructure option to form the basis of an extended facility.
It is worth noting that one advantage of a bi-directional track on the east side of Wrythe Lane, as opposed to two, with-flow, protected, cycle tracks on both sides of the road, is that users of the facility will not be subject to a lot of interaction with traffic entering and leaving the hospital, as would likely be the case with a track on the west side.
It is also recognised that Wrythe Lane is not a cycling connection identified in the Strategic Cycling Analysis (SCA), and that, therefore, funding to grow cycling could be more efficiently used elsewhere in the borough (for example, between Wallington, Hackbridge and Mitcham).
So, all in all, broadly supportive of the proposals for the hospital link, but with some reservations. Meanwhile, we will continue to press for better cycling facilities in the St Helier area, including a more robust link between the proposed Cycleway and the David Weir Arena/Leisure Centre.
What happened next?
25 February 2020
The news that the public consultation on the Colliers Wood to Sutton Town Centre Cycleway – Sutton section was finally underway was received on 27 February 2020. The consultation had opened on 25 February 2020, with the online presence at Cycleway between Sutton High Street and Colliers Wood – Proposals in Sutton. We published a news update about this on 1 March 2020, see ‘Cycleway between Sutton High Street and Colliers Wood – proposals in the Sutton area’ informal consultation launched, noting the engagement sessions for early March, and the closing date of 23 March 2020. A Cyclescape discussion thread (#5174) for discussion was set up on 28 February 2020.
v1: 26.02.2020; v1.1 -2.03.2020: ‘What happened next?’ added with 25 February 2020 update.