Monday, 14 January 2019

The Greenway is now Quietway 22

The Greenway is a footpath and cycleway running for nearly five miles from Old Ford to Beckton, located on top of the Northern Outfall Sewer, which was built in the mid to late 1800's. Recently this five mile stretch has been renamed "Quietway 22", at a cost of £4.5m, and I suspect that TfL are declaring this upgrade as part of their "we've doubled the amount of protected space delivered under the previous mayor" claim.Whilst that would be a very dishonest thing for them to do there have been some improvements to the Greenway recently as part of the re-branding.

I first cycled on the Greenway back in 2003 when the section from Old ford, which currently cuts through the Olympic Park, went through the Marshgate Lane industrial estate instead. Back then this section was just a narrow shared path, in a pretty poor condition and littered with burnt out mopeds. Fast forward a few years and construction of the Olympic Park began, with the Greenway freshly resurfaced as it was used as a route for construction workers to access the park via Pudding Mill Lane DLR station, as well as a destination for people to view construction of the park, with a cafe built out of shipping containers opening in late 2009. During the Olympic Games there were plans for the Greenway to form two of the entrances for spectators to the games; for those on bike coming from Victoria Park and also for people coming via underground from West Ham station. Therefore in preparation the entire stretch from Old Ford to West Ham was upgraded prior to the Olympics, with separate paths for those on foot and on bike

As part of Quietway 22 lightning and CCTV has recently been installed to allow this route to be used 24 hours a day

The Greenway is dissected as the Great Eastern Railway and DLR lines cross it, this used to require a short diversion down to Marshgate Lane, before rejoining the Greenway immediately after the railway bridge

Marshgate Lane at the bottom of the Greenway in 2007
Marshgate Lane at the bottom of the Greenway in 2019

However this section of the Greenway, from Marshgate Lane to Stratford High Street, has been closed since 2009; initially for Olympic Park construction works, Crossrail then kept it closed and now Thames Water have taken over, meaning this stretch will soon notch up a decade of being closed, with no reopening date in sight. A new ramp was built several years ago from Marshgate Lane to the Greenway but remains fenced off

Prior to the closure of this section of the Greenway there was another barrier at Stratford High Street, literally barriers in the middle of a six lane road, meaning you had to cycle on the shared use pavement to Abbey Road to use the staggered crossing and return on the pavement on the other side of the road. The Olympic transport planners really wanted spectators to travel via West Ham and walk to the park along the Greenway, rather than use the Central or Jubilee line and risk overcrowding at Stratford. Therefore the West Ham route was heavily publicised, with the green sections of the greenway completely covered in asphalt and a new footbridge installed over Stratford High Street (visible on Streetview here) as well as a brand new direct pedestrian crossing underneath for those in wheelchairs or other mobility problems. A real shame then that the footbridge and direct crossing were only there for a few weeks of games time. The bridge was moved to the former coach park alongside for a few months before being dismantled and the direct crossing was reconfigured as a staggered crossing. Whilst a crossing does now exist for when the Greenway reopens at Stratford High Street, it'll take quite a bit longer to cross than it did during the games

I feel it is a missed opportunity that the bridge here was not constructed as a permanent walking and cycling bridge, as has been achieved over Eastway, between Hackney Marshes and the northern section of the Olympic Park. On the bright side Stratford High Street does now have protected cycle tracks on it, constructed in 2013, extended to Aldgate in 2016 and currently being extended into the centre of Stratford 

The (rather narrow) separate cycling and walking paths continue to West Ham station, with green mostly restored

Shortly before West Ham station the steps at Abbey Road have been replaced with a ramp

Leading to a new toucan crossing which links up with a resurfaced Channelsea path, on top of the culverted Channelsea River, which (almost) links up with Stratford High Street

Back on the Greenway and the separate cycling and walking paths stop as soon as you pass the steps and long ramp to West Ham station and the Greenway looks very much the same as it did when I first cycled here over 15 years ago, except with lightning added and the odd "Q22" sign added to the light columns

And a new ramp down to the path through rugby pitches and the Plaistow memorial recreation ground

We then come to Upper Road where a toucan crossing greets us, after negotiating the various barriers designed to keep motor vehicles out

Most people don't bother to push the button and wait for the green man, instead opting to cross this not-very-busy road unassisted. It isn't a main road so a disappointment that as part of the quietway upgrade a tiger crossing wasn't installed, giving pedestrians and cyclist priority over motor vehicles.

A tiger crossing on the much busier Lower Clapton Road in Hackney, as part of Quietway 2
500m later we cross Balaam Street, where barriers force you to cycle a short distance along the pavement to reach the crossing, which is very mush favoured towards motor traffic on the road rather the pedestrians and cyclists on the greenway, so a lengthy wait can ensue

A helpful local resident has felt the need to install warnings that you might well be mugged at knifepoint here, a reminder that quietways are not always the best solution and why protected cycle tracks are required on main roads nearby also.

200m later we have to cross Barking Road, quite a busy road, again requiring you to cycle a short distance on the pavement to reach the crossing

and less than 200m on we have to cross Prince Regent Lane, our 4th signalled crossing in less than a kilometre

The route does then continue for the next 2km to the A13 junction at Beckton, where it meets Cycle Superhighway 3, obstruction free, except for one road crossing on a bus only route to Newham General Hospital, so a very quiet road but I still think priority should be given to the Greenway here, rather than the road.

Another new ramp has been constructed down to Lonsdale Avenue 

The new ramp under construction in the summer of 2018, now complete
Queitway 22 ends at the A13 Beckton Junction (although the Greenway continues onto Beckton sewage works) so connects up with Cycle Superhighway 3, which runs alongside the A13. This can take you to Barking heading east and to Canning Town if going west (or even as far as Paddington if you're willing to mix it with traffic on Poplar High Street). Unfortunately it'll take you some time to reach it as you have to stop and wait at seven different shared crossings to get to the other side of the road

The ideal solution here would be a walking and cycling underpass linking the Greenway and CS3 under the A13 and also under Woolwich Manor Way, which would improve conditions for those on CS3 as well. An expensive solution but one that would be a routine upgrade for a junction like this in the Netherlands

Quietway 22 has brought a few small improvements to the Greenway, especially the lightning. However the lack of priority over roads and shared pavement facilities at Beckton and on Wick Lane at either end are a disappointment.

A safe, convenient traffic free walking and cycling route? Yes, the Greenway has been that for decades.

An increase under the Khan administration of the amount of protected space for cyclists, comparable to major road transformation projects such as those on Embankment, Whitechapel Road or Vauxhall Bridge under Boris Johnson? Absolutely not.


  1. Thank you for this impression of this impression of a route over a serious length in London. Could you add a map of the route with some marks where the pictures were taken?

  2. Can you tell me how, during the games, one got from the main games area to the Greenway. Did you go down past the South Lawn (or Orbit Circus as it was during the games), then via a path to the footbridge over Stratford High Street? I went back for the World Athletics Championships in 2017, and wanted to avoid the crowds going to Stratford Station. I found it very frustrating trying to find out how to get to the Greenway. Neither the Police nor the volunteers knew how to get there. I eventually found a way via Warton Road and Stratford High Street, but finding that the footbridge had gone, and a section of the Greenway was closed made it even more disorientating. I did walk to West Ham Station once, but unlike during the games, when I was part of a throng, only a few people went that way. Any information you have on this would be very interesting.

    1. Hi on foot the main stadium is very near the Greenaway which runs past on its way towards Hackney.

      Specyators were directed along the Greenway to West Ham tube st. The stairs down from Greenway to WH Station had substantial investment resulting in a fairly high capacity for people traffic.

  3. I was mugged and bike stolen on this route a week ago, just past the Statford High Street. This was at 4pm in broad daylight.

    Rode in a police van looking for the suspects for 30 mins and towards the end of the ride the police got a call saying someone else had been mugged for their bike further East on the Greenway.

    Avoid at all costs. This route is not properly policed and the CCTV is useless.

    What a disaster.

    1. Thanks mentioning this as I was about to ride this route for the first time on an expensive bike will bare this in mind.

  4. A mate of mine just got bike jacked, look out for a pair of black teenagers with just one bike, it is the get away bike, they were also after his phone but did not pull a knife.

  5. You reference riding on the pavement a short distance. While the Greenway/Q22 is a shared access pathway the pavement is still the pavement and rule 64 of the highway code states never ride on the pavement. The pavement is not part of the Greenway/Q22 it is the pavement. The fence line across the gates is the property line that defines the boundary between Greenway/Q22 and pavement.

    While a toucan crossing allows pedestrians to walk and cyclists to ride across. You still can't ride on a pavement to get to the crossing.
    Highway code... Section 64
    Something that confuses many cyclists is whether or not they are allowed to cycle on the pavement. According to Laws HA 1835 section 72 & RSA 1984, section 129, cyclists must not cycle on the pavement.

    1. Yes, I agree that a tiger crossing that gives people who are walking and cycling on the Greenway priority crossing and does not require people to cycle on the pavement should have been installed here

  6. A couple of these mugging reports have been put on the crime log of the Greenway Action Group