diamond geezer

 Friday, October 31, 2014

And now, an update from Colliers Wood.

Last October I brought you news of the Bridge To Nowhere, a fiasco of a footbridge over the River Wandle.

Short version of the story: It was half-built in 2007 by a housing company who, angry at being asked to add an unplanned access ramp, somehow got planning permission for an elevated dead-end.
Long version of the story: here.

For almost seven years the Bridge to Nowhere remained just that, until TfL finally stepped in with some cycling cash and agreed to complete the project. The Wandle Trail runs this way, a waterside path from Carshalton to Wandsworth, and the Colliers Wood stretch has long been a break of flow. No more. The necessary work was done over the summer - thanks to reader Janet for alerting me - and now it's finally possible to cross from one side to the other. I've been to take a look.

Even from close by, you still wouldn't guess the bridge exists. A Wandle Trail signpost points the way by the old mill at the top of Wandle Bank, but could easily be pointing along the former detour via Byegrove Road, and indeed probably is. Who'd imagine that the right way is now up the tarmac path beside a parked car and a brick wall... and that's precisely how the residents of Bewley Street like it. They opposed completion of the bridge because they feared it would bring the general public up their private cul-de-sac in droves, which wasn't what they'd paid for when they moved in. The new reality seems somehow less scary.

Accessed up a wiggly riverside path, the western end of the Bridge to Nowhere looks much as before. A slatted span leads off through the trees, entirely lacking in useful signage, and currently scattered with fallen leaves. But squint carefully towards the vanishing point across the river and look, the far end is no longer sealed off. Instead a gentle ramp drops away, the ramp that caused all that funding fuss in the first place, and passage across the Wandle is finally possible.

It is a very long ramp. Indeed what used to be a quiet corner of the Wandle Meadow Nature Park has been consumed by infrastructure, as two zigzag ramp sections and a set of stairs envelop the clearing. There are only ten steps to descend to ground level, but it's amazing how long a ramp is required to match that difference in height. It means a wheelchair user could now self-propel to the far bank, but were I a small child I can imagine having hours of fun scooting round the loop created by the stairs/ramp combo, which may well be the nightmare riot scenario the residents of Bewley Street were imagining.

I think the Wandle Trail now continues underneath the neighbouring road, not that you'd tell because again there are no new signs, nor any obvious way to tell that the bridge route is open should you be walking in the opposite direction. Indeed I met nobody at all on my visit, only an urban fox patrolling her Merton hideaway... just as I did the first time I ever visited.

So, two things. First, though it's fantastic that the Bridge to Nowhere is now a Bridge to Somewhere, little effort seems to have been made to exploit this additional connectivity and broadcast its existence. If you're going to go to the effort of creating accessible infrastructure, why scrimp on signs that point potential users towards it.

And second. The costs associated with changes of level are making it increasingly difficult for councils to join things together. Once a cheap set of stairs would do, but now we have to build something pushchair/wheelchair-accessible and that's expensive. In an ideal world we'd build it anyway, but often the lack of cash means nothing happens at all. If the disabled can't have a lift or ramp, the able can't have a set of stairs (see also, the Lea towpath at Bow Locks) (see also, other stalled infrastructure projects).

Indeed we could have had a Bridge to Somewhere seven years back had steps been sanctioned, and ninety-something percent of us could have Wandled through without fuss. But the ramped option is clearly the fairer way to go, and is thankfully finally complete. We may all need a gently sloping gradient one day, and better the ideal solution than a cheapskate compromise.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream