Finsbury Park: cycling and safety

Strictly of local interest: this is from my response the Friends of Finsbury Park consultation on park safety. You can give your own response the consultation at this link.

The park safety plan should address the need for selected cycle routes after dark.

After-dark closure of park gates is superficially attractive, but in my twenty years of walking past this park there has never been a time when people weren’t able to get in through gaps made in the fence. Maintaining that fence must be a lot of work! So the question is not whether people who want to be there can get in, but whether people who are in the park (whether through a hole in the fence or because the gates are kept open) are safe.

And, note also needs to be taken of the role of the park as a hub for active transport, both walking and cycling.

When the park gates are open and passage through feels safe, communities on different sides of the park are connected for people travelling by foot or bike. When the park is closed, the connections between those communities are severed, as if on opposite sides of a motorway. Consider here the Oxford Rd/Stroud Green side of the park and the Manor House/Woodbury Downs area, well connected when the park is open, very far apart when it is closed.

The park is also an important hub for cycle longer distance cycle routes, with heavily travelled routes radiating from the park in several directions. Many of the roads bordering the park have heavy motor traffic and insufficient space for safe cycling. This makes the park a useful place to pass through on a bike – and also, for many, it feels like a much safer place than on a road like Endymion, Green Lanes or Seven Sisters in the sections where those roads border the park. When days get short in autumn and winter this leaves many cyclists without safe routes through or past the park.

The present heavy use of the park for cycling through-routes persists despite that fact that the locations and design of entrances, and the paths through the park, are often not well set up as cycle routes: there is no route paralleling Green Lanes, the Oxford Rd bridge is too narrow, there is no good connection from Wightman Rd, and so on. There is good reason to think that cycling provision in the park can, should, and will be improved. For instance:

  • The Mayor and TFL have identified Seven Sisters Rd as a part of a strategic cycling corridor (Tottenham Hale – Camden); unlike many parts of that corridor, the segment of Seven Sisters adjacent to the park is not wide enough to accommodate both cycle lanes and bus lanes. To achieve a continuous bike corridor without compromising bus service, a route through the park seems likely. To shut such a route at night would entirely defeat its purpose.
  • An entrance to the park from Alroy / Wightman roads, to accommodate the substantial cycle traffic coming down Wightman, is proposed in the final report of the Haringey Council’s Green Lanes consultation.

For these reasons, the safety plan for the park should include a small number of well-lit, all-hours routes for both cyclists and pedestrians.

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