Brent Cyclists belives that allowing responsible cycling on suitable paths through Brent's parks is essential for developing cycling as a mode of transport and significant leisure activity in the borough, essential for completing a practical and attractive cycle network for the borough, and essential for training children and other novices to cycle. However, Brent's parks and open spaces do not, in general, offically allow cycling. Under bylaws, cycling is allowed in Gladstone Park between narrow hours on weekday mornings, but not at other times, and at no times in other Brent parks.
Gladstone Park: there is officially no cycling allowed there most of the day
The Draft Strategy for Brent parks 2010 stated:
The government's emphasis on green travel has raised cycling onto the political agenda and meant that there is increasing amounts of funding for cycling projects. We continue to improve cycle routes within the borough incorporating, where possible, parks and open spaces that are accessible after dark.
However, so far there has been rather slow progress on actually creating practical routes through the parks, and the legal position remains that a general ban is in place, which seems to contradict the fact that there are aparrently official cycle routes in Brent's parks, in particular in the Brent River Park. The whole thing needs sorting out.
Current Park Routes
There is an attractive and quite long cycle route through the Brent River Park in Wembley, but it does not connect well with roads the the west end (the Harrow Road-north Circular road intersection), and at the north end it decamps into the Wembley Park industrial estate with no good route through to Wembley Park itself.
The Transport for London Cycle Guides also show (in dark green) cycle routes across Roe Green Park, round Gibbons Recreation Ground, round the edges of the Wembley Playing Field (between Tokyington Avenue and High Road, but very narrow), across Vale Farm Sports Ground, Maybank Open Space, King Edward VIII Park, Roundwood Park and One Tree Hill Recreation Ground. However, since the parks by-laws forbid cycling in these places, apparenly, there is a contradiction in the official information. What can be said however is that Brent is not actively preventing responsible cycling on paths in any of its parks.
The Corporation of London rather than Brent Council controls Queens Park and is totally opposed to cycling there. Cycling in Queens Park is banned.
Fryent Country Park
Proposals from Sustrans for "Greenway" links through Fryent Country Park in 2008 caused a storm of protest from local conservationists. Brent Cyclists did not support these proposals, as we felt such routes would not be very useful and very hard to build (the areas are often waterlogged) and we can see the environmental case against. What we are calling for in this area is cycle paths alongside Fryent Way.
There is an obvious route for a cycle path through Fryent Country Park, alongside the main road, the A4140 Fryent Way, which would have no environmental impact and be a useful, direct route.
Welsh Harp Open Space
There are two cycle paths across the Brent part of Welsh Harp Open Space shown on the London Cycle Guides, and an extension of these paths in the Barnet part of the open space, north of Cool Oak Lane, is physically cycleable, though the surface is porous. These paths are pleasant but not all that useful, and indeed are little-used. Brent Cyclists wants to see these paths extended and improved so they connect across the Open Space and West Hendon Playing Fields north to south, providing a traffic-free route for pedestrains and cyclists from Kingsbury Road to Birchen Grove. The legality of cycling on them in both Brent and Barnet of course also needs clearing up. Ultimately we think a circular route could and should be created around the reservoir, which would be a very attractive leisure facility, and much needed. Currenly, there is nothing like this in NW London – the nearest extended cycle circuit off-road is in Richmond Park.
The Welsh Harp has a cycling history. It was the site of the first track races in Britain, and the overgrown stadium can still be seen, just west of the north end of the reservoir. It is still marked "cycle track" on most maps as if it were still in use - sadly, very far from the case!
The open spaces round the Welsh Harp reservoir are scenic but very little used, because they are hard to access by bike or foot, cut off by major roads. They have great potential for cycling, but they need to be connected up.
Efforts to improve cycle (and walking) provision around the Welsh Harp are made very difficult by the split in ownership of the area. It is partially the responsibility of Brent Council, partially of Barnet Council, and partially of the Canal and River Trust (which used to be British Waterways). Policy between these bodies is supposed to be co-ordinated by the Welsh Harp Joint Consultative Committee. In past times British Waterways obstructed attempts to get a connection between the open spaces on opposite sides of the dam because of their concerns about "security". We had hoped that the new body, the aparrently more cycle-friendly Canal and River Trust would take a more construcrtive attitude, but the issue has so far not been re-opened. Brent Cyclists made a detailed submission to the consultation on the Welsh Harp Mangement Plan in March 2010, attached here, and this remains a good statement of our positiion.
|BC Welsh Harp management plan response.pdf||55.88 KB|