Cycling into confusion in Greenwich

Cllr Spencer Drury writes “Today I attended a meeting between Greenwich Council Officers and a police officer to look at the signs telling cyclists where they could and could not ride in the area of the Cutty Sark. 

The meeting was instigated by me when a local resident complained cyclists were riding along the narrow footpath which runs alongside the Thames in front of the Royal Naval College buildings. On investigation, Council Officers said that there were many signs informing cyclists about where they should ride (which should not be on that path) but local police officers assured me that the signage was so confusing that no reasonable person could prosecute or fine a cyclist because they could argue they did not know where they could cycle. 

We started at the Trafalgar pub where the signs are completely clear that you should not ride on the path.  However, as you walk further along the path, there is another pole bearing a ripped but still readable sign identifying this path as part of the National Cycle Route.  Towards the end of the path is the gate where cyclists are supposed to turn in to follow the route through the centre of the Royal Naval College buildings, but this gate was closed and the sign which should have pointed cyclists through it was hidden behind a hoarding which contractors had put up. 

 As we moved towards the Cutty Sark there was a post which was covered in signs informing cyclists that they should dismount but also letting them know that this was a national cycle route. I don’t think any reasonable person could have guessed where they were supposed to cycle, dismount or just not go.

In the plaza by the Cutty Sark itself, the situation was equally unclear and as cyclists went past the dismount signs, but followed the National Cycle Route ones it was clear that people were just going where they thought was right. 

The Council Officers seemed genuinely amazed to find that the carefully placed signs clashed with others placed there by other organisations many years before but could understand the confusion. None of this was helped by the building work, which I think is already behind schedule. 

However, it was one of those rare moments as a Councillor where you thought that the meeting instigated by you had actually improved understanding and might lead to a clearer way forward for cyclists and pedestrians alike.”