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Date updated: 7/30/2021

Epping Forest and Commons Committee approved the Epping Forest Cycling Management Strategy at its meeting in March 2021. The strategy proposed a review of cycling in Wanstead Park with an aim to increase permissive cycle access.

Read our cycling management strategy

In the Park there is one designated cycle path and one permissive cycle route. The rest of the Park (eastern side) is subject to a byelaw which prohibits cycling. Feedback from groups was that the mix of rules confused Park users. You can view a map of the various applicable byelaw areas and historically designated cycle routes in our map below.

Cycling Byelaws Map PDF (442KB)
Date submitted: 7/30/21
Permissive Cycle Routes Map PDF (418KB)
Date submitted: 7/30/21

Following on from the Committees’ adoption of the strategy, we carried out a three-week consultation exercise during late April and May 2021. We asked which of three options for cycling in the Park people supported. In total, we had 1004 responses from Park users.

Results

In the consultation, we asked which of three options were preferred, these were:

  1. do nothing
  2. stop cycling in the park
  3. allow cycling across the park

Over two thirds of respondents’ supported extending cycling across the whole of Wanstead Park (675 responses).

The results were presented to the Epping Forest Consultative Committee on 16 June 2021. Feedback from this meeting and the results were taken to the Epping Forest and Commons Committee on 12 July 2021. The Committee approved extending permissive cycling on main paths in the east side of Wanstead Park. This now makes the east side consistent with the cycling allowed on the western side of Wanstead Park.

Frequently asked questions

Cycling became a byelaw offence in Wanstead Park in the 1930’s. This was in response to illegal cycle race events which were being organised in the Park and causing upset to other visitors. However, the ban was only applicable to the ‘enclosed’ Park, when daily opening and closing of the Park was the norm. This has resulted in a position where cycling was permitted in the western area of Wanstead Park, but not in the eastern area because different byelaws apply.

There is a designated cycle path from Warren Road (north) between Shoulder of Mutton Pond and Heronry Pond to Northumberland Avenue / Park Road junction. There is also a permissive cycle route linking the above designated path to Wanstead Park Avenue following an established desire line.

The map (insert link here to Wanstead Park byelaw map and historic cycle routes) shows byelaw areas in Wanstead Park and historic cycle routes. The Park is split in two, with the western area (blue shaded on map) covered by Epping Forest land byelaws. The eastern area (orange shaded on map) is covered by Wanstead Park byelaws. The designated cycle path (blue dashed line) and the permissive cycle route (orange dashed line) are also shown.

Option 1

Do nothing: Leave the situation with cycling as it is, with cycling permitted in the Epping Forest part of Wanstead Park, but not permitted in the eastern area covered by Wanstead Park byelaws. The designated cycle path and permissive route will remain.

Implications:

  • Easiest option
  • No byelaw implications
  • Does not provide clarity of use
  • Continued conflict with new visitors, who may then have a poor visitor experience
  • Fails to address existing use, growth of cycling and byelaw violations

Option 2

Stop cycling – ban it in the Park altogether (except for the Warren Road to Northumberland Road) designated cycle path. The permissive route would be withdrawn.

Implications:

  • Provides clarity of use, although designated cycle path could still cause confusion for some
  • Removes completely risk of pedestrian/cyclist collisions
  • Restricts some user groups – in particular, family recreational cycling in a safe environment
  • Does not support modal shift towards more sustainable, active travel for local journeys.
  • Legal exclusion of cycling on Forest Land may impact on a wider area

Option 3

Allow cycling on paths throughout the whole Park (both western Epping Forest land and eastern Wanstead Park bye law area). This permissive cycling will be on the basis that pedestrians always have priority in Wanstead Park, and cyclists must follow the Epping Forest cycling code of conduct.

Implications:

  • Provides clarity of use
  • Supports modal shift towards more sustainable, active travel for local journeys.
  • Increases access to visit the Park by bicycle
  • Implemented via permission, can easily be revoked
  • May increase user conflict if cycling code of conduct is not observed

May impact on ecology or heritage features if permission is abused.

During the Coronavirus pandemic there has been a significant increase in the number of people visiting the Forest.

A recent snapshot visitor surveys put the increase of visitors at 350%. These visitors enjoy many different pastimes and cycling, in its various disciplines, is proving increasingly popular, growing from 10% in 2014, (Epping Forest Visitor Survey, 2014) to some 12-18% (2020) of Forest visits.

Local interest groups are keen to see increased cycle access and the Epping Forest Cycling Management Strategy supports a move towards active travel. Allowing greater freedom to cycle in the Park would support this.

The position with the varying different byelaws and cycle routes caused confusion for Park users and has resulted in user conflict in the past.

You can now cycle on main paths (shown in black on the map), the Warren Road (north) Northumberland Avenue/Park Road route passing between the Shoulder of Mutton and the Heronry (shown in blue on the map) and the linking permissive path to Wanstead Park Avenue (red path). You can find a map of the extension of permissive cycling above.

The changes have been made from 12 July 2021 Committee decision. This change will be monitored, and a review undertaken of the impact in 18 months. This impact will be reported back to Committee in spring 2023 before the change is made permanent.

As the majority were in favour of cycling across all the Park main paths, this reduces the need for signage – as there will be one rule for cycling across the whole Park. There will be temporary signage installed initially and the cycling code of conduct will also be displayed in the Park.

We would like to see more cycle racks installed across the Forest, including Wanstead Park. In the first instance, we will work with local interest groups to raise funding for these but in time it is planned that revenue from car park charges will help to fund this work.

We encourage Park and Forest visitors to be courteous and have respect for one another. The Epping Forest Cycling Code of Conduct outlines that cyclists must give priority to pedestrians when visiting the Forest.

Option 3 outlines that permissive cycling in Wanstead Park will be limited to main paths only. This reflects most of the cycling which currently occurs. Protection of heritage assets is a priority, and we will monitor the impact of changes for any signs of erosion or damage to non-path areas. In line with the Cycling Management Strategy, we can restrict access to areas if parts of the Park are suffering damage due to cycling.

Electric bikes are allowed in Wanstead Park on main paths as with push bicycles.

Un-restricted electric bikes (over 15.5mph with motor rating above 250w) or speed pedelec or s-pedelec are not permitted in Wanstead Park or Epping Forest.

E-scooters are not allowed in Wanstead Park or any part of Epping Forest. They are only allowed to be ridden on private land or on highway as part of ongoing trials by certain local authorities. See here for more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/powered-transporters/information-sheet-guidance-on-powered-transporters

You can now cycle on main paths in Wanstead Park.  You can see a map of main paths above.