WANSTEAD: Row over cycle route plan

DISAGREEMENT exists over the location of the final section of a major cycle route.

Plans to complete the Roding Valley Way through Wanstead were first put forward more than seven years ago as part of a scheme to improve cycling and walking links from Essex to the River Thames.

Opinions are divided between residents, cyclists and councillors over which of three options would be best for the location of the last segment of the route - between Redbridge Roundabout and Empress Avenue, in Aldersbrook.

Members of the Redbridge branch of the London Cycling Campaign (LCCRG)- and half of all respondents to a public consultation on the scheme - favoured Route A, which would run behind a row of houses in Royston Gardens in Wanstead before following the path of the River Roding.

But their hopes may be dashed after councillors from Area One committee asked officers to look at routes B and C instead as a compromise to residents in Royston Gardens who complained that route A would cause 'increased security risk' to their properties.

Chris Elliott, joint co-ordinator of the LCCRG, said route A was the best option for cyclists and that their presence was actually more likely to help improve security in the area.

He said: "We favour route A because it's more open and safer.

"It runs high along the side of the river in a clear area where you can see what is around you.

"The other routes have problems. They run right next to the motorway which will be really noisy and unpleasant.

"There are also real security issues with the other routes.

"I don't see how cyclists could be seen as a security risk. I'd argue that having cyclists going past would improve security on route A."

These views were backed by fellow member David Giddings.

He said: "Route A is better for cyclists.

"The safety of cyclists must be taken into consideration. Women on their own may not feel safe using the other routes."

Only two of the 13 Royston Gardens residents who responded to a public consultation on the plans backed route A - with a large majority opting for route C, which would run alongside the A406 past a disused allotment site.

No Royston Gardens residents voted for route B.

Masood Mirza of Royston Gardens, said they were justified in opposing route A.

He said: "There's enough problems with kids damaging fences and graffiti here already.

"Why can't (the cyclists) just ride across the football pitches. There's no need to go so close to people's backgardens."

Another resident, who did not want to be named said: "We're not against cyclists. We just don't want lots of people going past our houses all the time."

Snaresbrook ward councillor Peter Goody said: "We (took) account of the security issues surrounding route A, while recognising that this was the cyclists' preferred route.

"Of routes A and C, we favoured C but felt that route B might be a useful compromise in that it avoided the security problems of route A but provided some of the more scenic routing, away from the A406, which the cyclists were looking for.

"Our formal decision asks officers to consider the proposals further and determine whether route B or route C would be more suitable.

"Given the concerns of residents and the needs of cyclists, between routes A and C we would have to choose C, but we would suggest that route B may be a compromise for the way forward."

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