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Protected cycle track in Waltham Forest

Award-winning Enjoy Waltham Forest scheme makes it easier to travel by bike

The Healthy Streets Scorecard results for 2019/20201 showed Waltham Forest came seventh out of all the London boroughs for length of protected cycle track (which was estimated to cover 9.1% of its entire length of road). As part of its award-winning Enjoy Waltham Forest programme, the Council is investing in segregated cycle lanes to make it easier than ever before to travel by bike. We asked the Council to tell us about Lea Bridge Road’s transformation.

Lea Bridge Road

In October 2019, the Council officially launched an eight-kilometre fully-protected route along Lea Bridge Road (Cycleway 23) running from the Waltham Forest boundary with Hackney to Whipps Cross (four kilometres in each direction).

The former Whipps Cross Roundabout – now Whipps Cross Interchange, completed in October 2019 – has also been transformed with a new public space, planting, priority pedestrian and cycling crossings, segregated cycle lanes, dedicated bus stands with future-proofed capacity and 1,000sqm of former road space handed back to Epping Forest as a wildflower meadow.

In late 2019, construction started on extending the Cycleway 3km further to enable people to cycle between Waltham Forest and Redbridge and to central London and beyond. The extension of the route to the east will create a new two-way protected cycle track between Whipps Cross and Water Works roundabout in Redbridge. These works will be completed this summer, with a further stretch being planned and funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) beyond the roundabout right up to the Redbridge border.

In March 2020, the Council completed the extension of the Leyton to Blackhorse route from Boundary Road to the junction with Lea Bridge Road, providing segregated cycle tracks on both sides of Markhouse Road for its whole length.

The Enjoy Waltham Forest programme of work has been made possible by Transport for London’s (TfL) award of £30 million in 2014 through the Mini Holland programme which provided three boroughs – Waltham Forest, Enfield and Kingston – with funds to reduce car use and turn local areas into safer, greener and healthier places for Londoners to live.

Prioritising road space in favour of active travel

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader of Waltham Forest Council, on Lea Bridge Road's Cycleway 23.
"On Lea Bridge Road, we've re-prioritised the space in favour of cyclists and pedestrians."

Waltham Forest Deputy Leader, Clyde Loakes, told us:

“We’ve installed 29km of segregated cycle track across the borough, together with seven secure cycle parking hubs at key stations and approaching 500 cycle hangars on residential streets, making it easier for residents to store their bikes and use them more often.

“On Lea Bridge Road, we’ve re-prioritised the space in favour of cyclists and pedestrians; so far this year, over 200,000 cyclists have used it.”

“Across the borough we’ve seen an increase in cycling of 103 per cent, and decrease in car use of seven per cent, since we started improving local infrastructure through our Enjoy Waltham Forest programme. In turn, we have seen a marked improvement in air quality.”

Cllr Clyde Loakes tells the Healthy Streets Scorecard about changes to enable walking and cycling in Waltham Forest

Campaigning was instrumental in securing a #Street4Everyone

Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner at London Cycling Campaign
"There's been an explosion in the diversity of people cycling since the track was installed."

Simon Munk, at London Cycling Campaign (LCC is one of our coalition partner groups), was part of the successful campaign for a segregated Cycleway.

He says: “Lea Bridge Road’s protected cycle track shows what an outer London borough can do with political will and some funding. Whipps Cross roundabout used to be one of the most dangerous spots for cycling in the borough. Now it’s got plants and greenery and safer cycling. This, along with low-traffic neighbourhoods, demonstrates what LCC and others campaigned for, and won here, and is continuing to campaign for across London.

“There’s been an explosion in the diversity of people cycling since the track was installed. You’ll see families cycling and kids on their own, and people on trikes, not just lycra-clad fitness freaks like me. If we want to get more people cycling across London, we can’t just push them into the road. We need many more protected tracks like this.”

Simon Monk from LCC tells the Healthy Streets Scorecard about the campaign for cycle tracks on Lea Bridge Road in Waltham Forest

A novice cyclist’s experience

Rob Allan by Lea Bridge Road Cycleway 23.
"It's great to be able to use an important artery, but not have to stress about the danger from busy traffic."

Having a segregated cycle track on Lea Bridge Road has been a boon for Robert Allan, who only learnt to cycle fairly recently. Rob is a self-employed professional musician who now cycles on Cycleway 23 every two to three days en route to different parts of London for his job. During lockdown, he used it every day as part of his exercise routine.

Rob had free group lessons with ‘Cycle Confident’ (a Waltham Forest Council initiative) in nearby Jubilee Park and found Lea Bridge Road’s segregated track has been extremely helpful for practising his new skills and gaining confidence.

He says: “I never learnt to ride as a kid and first got a bike about 18 months ago. The segregated cycle track on Lea Bridge Road has been the perfect transition from cycling around the park and back roads to riding on busy roads.

“It’s great to be able to use an important artery, but not have to stress about the danger from busy traffic. This is a really fantastic initiative and I hope that more borough councils follow suit.”

Rob Allan tells the Healthy Streets Scorecard about using the protected cycle tracks in Waltham Forest

  1. The Transport for London estimates of protected cycle track were the position as of March 2019. This data has not been updated since that date, so Healthy Streets Scorecard (HSS) 2020 uses the same data as HSS 2019. []

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