Peaceful protest takes place in response to crime wave on Newham Greenway
- Credit: Archant
Cyclists and walkers have taken part in a peaceful protest to raise awareness of crime on the Greenway.
The protest was organised by Newham Cyclists and supported by Newham Dog Community, with both groups very concerned about the safety of the public pathway.
The Greenway runs through Newham and is divided into several sections. Since January 2018 the stretch from East Ham to Stratford High Street has been open 24 hours, with the section from Stratford High Street to Pudding Mill Lane operating similarly for less than a year.
Most protesters view the Greenway as an asset which is too unsafe to use, especially after dark.
Arnold Ridout, co-ordinator for Newham Cyclists, says: "As a green spine stretching right across Newham, the Greenway is a key cycling and walking route. To see it abandoned to criminality would waste the money already spent on the upgrade and set back active travel in Newham".
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Although there has always been some crime, group members have noticed a spike since last autumn.
Arnold says: "These attacks appear to be more sophisticated, more widespread along the length of the Greenway (including the more recently opened section) and targeted at cyclists."
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A recent victim, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke about being attacked on January 10: "I was cycling home to East Ham and the attack took place near West Ham station. A group of around 10 guys pushed me off my bike, and punched and kicked me on the floor. Along with the bike they stole my phone and passport."
He reported it to the police, who told him five days later that there was nothing they could do. Though there was a CCTV camera beside where the incident occurred, not all are operational. Sadly the victim hasn't cycled since.
Stopping crime on the Greenway is difficult as incidents aren't recorded to the specific section of the path, but to the nearest street.
Richard Stevenson, of the Greenway Users facebook group, says that although he has raised this issue, he hasn't yet been able to find "a direct way of being able to put this question to the police where they may be able to do something about it".
One of the aims of the protest cycle was to urge the authorities to take further action. A meeting took place on the afternoon of the cycle.
A council spokeswoman said: "There was a very positive meeting held between the Metropolitan Police, council officers and ward councillors along the Greenway route, where the excellent progress the MPS have made in tackling the incidents of crime reported on the Greenway was discussed.
"Key perpetrators have been identified, targeted and a number of significant arrests have been made, which has resulted in a dramatic fall in the number of reported incidents this month (February).
"Lighting on the new section from the High Street to Pudding Mill Lane is now fully operational and two CCTV cameras, operated by London Legacy Development Corporation, now cover this section, with further council cameras to follow once supporting infrastructure work is completed.
"Signs to inform people that CCTV is in use for crime prevention and detection will be put in place along the entire route by the council, and the police will continue to operate plain clothes patrols, including on bikes, along all sections of the Greenway."
Cabinet member for environment, highways and sustainable transport, James Asser added: "The Greenway project, like any major infra-structure scheme, has been rolled out over a number of years, but is finally reaching the point where all possible security measures will soon be in place; but we will continue to monitor the area to ensure that they are working."
Chairwoman of Newham Cyclists Kerena Fussell feels happy with how the cycle went.
The hope is that the Greenway will become safer for the people of Newham, who simply want to use the "fantastic facility" they've been given.