If you are a resident of, or traveller through, this fine neighborhood, you may have noticed an agitated-looking cyclist riding around in a large circle and swearing a lot. That was me. I've been trying to follow the official quiet route through Battersea, and frankly, the London Cycle Network signing leaves a lot to be desired, at least if your objective travelling through rather than taking up residence in Battersea. Sometimes the signs are there and point you in the right direction. Sometimes the signs are there, but point you in the wrong direction. Sometimes they are there, but hidden. And sometimes they are missing.
Come with me, dear reader, on a quick tour and I'll show you what I mean (sorry about the quality of some of the photos):
We've just crossed Trinity Road, we're in Nantes Close. Where now?
Yes: we need to go left where those bollards are. No sign to give the game away though. If you don't know it's there you can quite easily cycle straight past the turn.
OK, we're back on track, over Plough Road and in John Baines Road (see above). We need to go left onto the pavement, just where that black car is in centre-shot. Again, no sign. If you look very carefully, just to the left of the tree, you'll see the blue direction sign in Winstanley Road. Onward to Clapham Junction, and across Falcon Road into Este Road. Suddenly, a dead-end sign (below)! Where did I go wrong?
Never mind, keep going, and the blue signs appear again:
Left onto a path and into Wayford Street. At the end we have this:
There's only one sign, saying (I think) "Battersea, The City, Greenwich". But it seems to be pointing back where we came from. Or is it left? It so happens we want to go right into Cabul Road. Aptly named - the infrastructure here is rather like you'd find in Afghanistan.
And another dead-end sign (above). But we'll persevere:
...and we're rewarded with a blue sign.On along the path to Latchmere Road.
Across Latchmere Road and along the footway. A blue sign, I think saying End of Route. But anyway, nothing to indicate we need to go right into Burns Road.
But it's OK, once you're in Burns Road the blue signs are back with a vengeance (above), sending you right when you should be going straight on.
And if you do go straight on, you're rewarded (above) with a blue cycle route sign. That's nice. Right at Reform Street (no pubs here, which is a shame as I could use a drink), left into the sylvan paradise of Sheepcote Lane, then Culvert Road. We should be going immediately right into Rowditch Road but there's no sign (below).
Then finally, we need to go left by Rollo Court, but again, no direction sign (below).
Now it could be I'm following the wrong route, but because the numbering is not consistent, it's impossible to tell. The blue cycle route signs just have a cycle on, and no number. There's no colour coding either - everything is blue. I got lost three or four times before I managed to figure the route out, and I've lived in southwest London most of my life. What chance does a newcomer to London have of following these signs? Part of the problem is the route itself. It's a mixture of quiet and busy roads, footways and paths. It's not been designed as a cycle route - it's just a mishmash of whatever happened to be there already. You never know what to expect, which is why you rely so heavily on signs, which - er - can't be relied on.
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