Havering Borough Council had a long held aspiration to develop a cycling and walking route alongside the Ingrebourne River, from Dagnam Park to the River Thames. This would provide useful links between communities and cycle and pedestrian access to essential local amenities. However, despite some existing sections of path being well used, major barriers existed, notably crossing the A12 and A127, and the narrow footbridge at Branfil School. There were also legal issues, crossings of borough roads, sensitive sites requiring new paths and flooding to consider.
“ We zoomed along a beautiful open country route on a smooth path. The route was very easy to follow and there was plenty of room for us all. We would encourage everyone to get on their bikes. ”
Sustrans worked with the Council to develop a continuous 13-mile route from the M25 at Dagnam Park via Harold Hill, Hornchurch and Upminster to the Thames at Rainham. This was done by improving existing paths, creating new traffic-free sections to link existing routes together and installing safer road crossings for pedestrians and cyclists. The work was divided into three stages with the final one, involving complex road crossings to the section between the A127 and Upminster, proving the most challenging.
In an area of traditionally low cycle use, the scheme has created a direct and attractive route that connects communities right across the borough and gives pedestrians and cyclists attractive and safe spaces for local trips. It opens up numerous everyday journeys, such as allowing children to comfortably cycle to Branfil School or the local community to access St Georges Hospital. Additionally the route links green spaces and provides numerous leisure opportunities for new and less confident cyclists. Politically, it has raised the profile of, and ambition for, cycling in the borough.
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