Opening up new routes will give cyclists their park life

CROYDON COMMENTARY: A scheme to allow cyclists to ride through some of Croydon’s parks needs your support, writes KRISTIAN GREGORY

As Croydon Council moves towards legalising cycling in Park Hill Park, I’ve been asked if the Croydon Cycling Campaign thinks this is an important change worth fighting for. It’s a difficult question to field, as opening up the route via Park Hill is hardly going to open up the flood gates to hundreds of people cycling through into Croydon.

This is how cycling in Croydon is most of the time at present

This is how cycling in Croydon is most of the time at present

However, context is key, and given the context, it’s crucial.

The Sustrans Connect2 route aims to connect up green spaces across the centre of Croydon, creating a pleasant and attractive (albeit slow and indirect) route from east to west, passing through the very heart of Croydon. This is a route for leisure cycling, particularly for parents travelling with children. Without such links, parents cycling with children will be reduced to the kind of road conditions they face at present.

Croydon needs places where adults can take their children to learn to cycle. They need routes they can practice cycling with, and be able to make real journeys into the town centre accompanied by their children in safety. Child obesity rates in Croydon are soaring, with a lack of exercise a major contributor. Air pollution is severely damaging to the delicate developing organs of our young. We have to get people out of their cars and on to bikes.

Cycling in parks is a key part of making this vision happen. I fear some residents picture a small local park like Park Hill being overrun by racing cyclists. This route will never appeal to fast, racing or even commuting cyclists, however. This will appeal to adults with young children, the elderly and children cycling to school.

Riding bicycles in parks allows parents to teach children how to be safe when cycling

Riding bicycles in parks allows parents to teach children how to be safe when cycling

The Sustrans Connect 2 route is perhaps the only significant cycling project Croydon Council has attempted in the past eight years (the report to the council, from four years ago, can be seen here).

It’s a simple route, not changing too much, not costing much and not impacting on much. Resistance from residents on the adjacent road has dragged it out for years. Compare the impact of this scheme to what the residents by the Fiveways flyover are facing. Years of disruption, noise, air pollution and some may even lose their homes.

Getting people cycling will be much less disruptive in the long run than continuing support for our mass driving culture.

Opposition to this scheme also puts future schemes at risk. It’s demoralising for staff at the council working on the project and discourages councillors from attempting more cycling projects in future. So my plea to local residents and friends of Park Hill is this: Please help support us in our vision to make Croydon a safe and pleasant place for the future. We’ll all benefit in the long run.

  • This is an edited version of an article which originally appeared on the Croydon Cycling Campaign website, reproduced with permission
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8 Responses to Opening up new routes will give cyclists their park life

  1. Simply, an excellent idea and far better than the proposed Hammersfield Superhighway.

  2. Mel Saunders says:

    More room for bikes at the expense of feet – wheels belong on the road.

  3. It isn’t simply ‘wheels on the road’ though is it? it’s squishy human beings using bicycles fighting for space and survival amidst buses and lorries with no protected space.

    • Motorcycles don’t have protected space either but are required to pass a test, pay insurance and road tax.

      • Nick Davies says:

        Road tax was abolished in 1937. VED has had nothing to do with road building or maintenance for 78 years. That argument really is tiresome after all this time.

        Motorcyclists are obliged to have insurance due to the damage they might cause in an accident. Many cyclists wisely insure their bikes against theft and accident damage and third part liability is often included in such policies.

        • A bit pedantic on tax. VED technically correct but you will find the DVLA using the “tax” word on their website and everyone knows what I mean. RIP the “Tax Disc” love it or hate it. The point I was making is that cycling is totally unregulated and why should they have special protection compared to motorcyclists? I ride both forms of bike as well as driving a car. Unfortunately the worst behaviours I see is from cyclists (red light transgressions being one of the worst) who regulary ignore the Highway Code and there is precious little that can be done about them.

          • Nick Davies says:

            DVLA has “vehicle tax”. “Road tax” implies a tax to use the road, and is tediously used in discussions like this against cyclists to make out that they somehow don’t pay their way and have fewer rights as road users.

            If you want to play highway code bingo, try standing at a set of lights and counting the red light jumpers and mobile phone users. You’ll get a full house doing cars far sooner than you will bikes.

  4. Rod Davies says:

    It is encouraging to see traffic management in this proposal, and others, promoting the use of bicycles across the borough. See planning & trafffic mgmt proposals here (
    There are legitimate concerns about the behaviour of a minority of cyclists, and arguably cyclists should have some liability insurance to cover the consequences of any their actions that injure other people or cause damage to property. In terms of getting cyclists to observe the highway code, the police have demonstrated in inner London that enforcing the Highway Code by stopping and presumably charging offenders. The argument for some kind of equivalence between bicycles and motorbikes / scooters is absurd, as the weight, speed, acceleration and power of any motorcycle far exceeds that of a bicycle.
    From my own observations it seems that in some instances we are in an invidious cycle where drivers show scant regard for cyclists; who in turn use the pavement, and show scant regard for pedestrians. As the inner roads were cleared in the 1990’s by parking restrictions, it should have created an environment where cyclist could use the road. However, the void was filled with cars and trucks that seek to avoid the slow moving traffic in and around the town centre. Had the parking restrictions been accompanied with other traffic management measures such as lowering the speed limit to 15 / 20 mph, creating more one-way routes and installing width restrictions, then perhaps there would have been a more cycle friendly environment and we would have avoid some of the consequences of poor cyclist behaviour driven by lack of safe space for them.
    What we need is a promotion of respect by all drivers, motor-cyclists and cyclists for each other. There are also specific points across the town centre where pedestrians and cyclists confront each other, and far too frequently there are instances where cyclists show little regard for pedestrians.

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