Crystal Palace Transition Town Transport Group

Cycle routes in Crystal Palace Park, part 2

A couple of days ago I wrote about cycle routes in the park, ahead of the launch of Bromley & the GLA’s 15-point consultation on how to spend £3.4m upgrading the park.

You can read their 15-point plan here:

… and take the survey here:

It’s important to recognise that not all of their 15 points may be implemented – there may not be enough money to do everything, and some are likely to be contentious. In particular, the removal of commuter car parking means nearby residents may be faced with more cars clogging up their roads – or a CPZ, neither of which are likely to be popular.

If you want better cycling facilities in the park, the most important thing is to assign points to item 15 “Cycle access from Rockhill entrance” on the second page of the survey.

We think it’s important that even if some of the bigger plans don’t happen, for whatever reason, the smaller fixes we outlined last week don’t get lost.

So how do these plans affect our proposals for cycling quick wins?

The most significant items on the Bromley plan, from a two-wheeled point of view, are as follows:

(3) Demolition of the turnstile buildings on the central axis

This presents an opportunity to reinstate step-free access on both the east/west central axis, and the north/south ridgetop path, and a connection between the two. A two-stage ramp would cost a considerable proportion of the available £2.4M, but at present, people who can’t tackle stairs have very poor connectivity in this part of the park, and no access to the NSC from the east at all, so this work should be a priority.

(14) A wheeled sports facility

If this is to be a BMX facility, there will be a significantly increased volume of young people arriving at the park on two wheels. Local authorities responsible for the crossings approaching the park must ensure that they can be safely used by young cyclists. We say go for it – there is a good skate facility less than a mile away, or 7 minutes by bus (the legendary “Bloblands” at Norwood Park), but the nearest BMX facilities are at Mitcham Eastfields and Brockwell Park, both 4 miles away and with no direct rail connection (NB: boards can be carried on a bus – BMXs cannot!)

(15) Cycle access at Rockhills

This one is excellent news, and something we’ve been calling for for some time. (We’ve discussed it using the name of the access road – “Old Cople Lane” – whereas Bromley use the name of the adjoining caravan site – “Rockhills”). In any case, well done LB Bromley – bringing this forward will put greater emphasis on Southwark getting the forthcoming Fountain Drive roundabout work right.

We recognise that there are competing interests for limited funding available to the Park, and propose that LB Bromley approach the Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, to see if Mayor’s Cycling Vision funding can be made available to assist with this work, leaving more of the current £3.4m available for other projects.

And what’s missing?

The Bromley plans represent a well-balanced spending plan and, if most of the 15 points can be delivered in some way or other, excellent value for money. However, there are a few omissions which we’d like to see addressed:

Path resurfacing.  The gravel used around the Italian garden and the upper terraces is cheap to maintain and stands up reasonably well to the park’s mix of uses, including occasional heavy vehicle access for fairs and other special events. However, it’s very hard going for cycles, wheelchairs and small-wheeled prams / buggys. We would like LB Bromley to consider putting in a smoother surface, if one can be found that is cost-effective to install and maintain and in keeping with the character of the park.

Signage, lighting and access. The park has the potential to be a useful local connector for pedestrians and cyclists between local town centres and public transport connections. At the moment, much of the park is poorly lit, public transport connections and walking distances are not well signposted, and the security arrangements are an unsatisfactory compromise – gates locked at night in various places, but anyone intent on criminal or anti-social behaviour can easily find a way in.

Given the late opening hours of the National Sports Centre (open to the public until 21:30, staff on site until 23:00), and the park’s utility as a pedestrian and cycle route to and from the NSC, we propose that the park be operated on a general principle of 5am-midnight or 24 hour access. This requires significant work on the presently inadequate lighting. We propose low-level (bollard or ground level) lighting be installed along all the main pedestrian routes, self-solar-powered if that can provide an adequate amount of light during winter, low-level so as to cause minimal disturbance to wildlife habitats within the park. 24-hour warden cover would discourage any serious anti-social behaviour.


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