Segregated cycle lane planned for £600m east London bridge

Plans unveiled for claimed much-needed link – but will it see the light of day?

by Simon_MacMichael   July 1, 2014  

Proposed_Thames_bridge_in_east_London_(picture_credit_HOK_and_Arup)

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A design for a new £600 million bridge across the Thames in east London that would include a segregated cycle lane has been published by architects and engineers working on the proposed project. Whether it will see the light of day is another matter, with Mayor of London Boris Johnson having scrapped earlier plans for a similar crossing.

Campaigners led by the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) say that the bridge, which would span the river between Beckton and Thamesmead, would help ensure an Olympic legacy for the east of the capital and improve transport links.

The concept, designed by architects HOK and consulting engineers Arup, was launched yesterday, the 120th anniversary of the opening of Tower Bridge. East of there, the capital has just two fixed river crossings for road traffic, the Rotherhithe and Blackwall Tunnels, with cyclists only permitted to use the former.

Other options for bike riders wishing to cross the river in the east of the city include the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels – although they have to dismount – and the Woolwich Ferry.

Since the conclusion of a successful six-month trial, they are also permitted to use the Docklands Light Railway, which crosses the Thames at two points, and the Emirates Airline, with each car taking a maximum of two bicycles.

The only bridge currently downstream of Tower Bridge is outside Greater London, the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge linking Thurrock in Essex with Dartford in Kent, but to use it, or the Dartford Tunnel which runs northbound, cyclists need to be taken across in one of the crossing operators’ vehicles.

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of LCCI, which has organised a petition to gather support for the bridge, said yesterday: "Nearly half of London's population lives east of Tower Bridge yet they are served by only two fixed road river crossings.

“It is an area with huge amounts of potential and while the Olympics acted as a crucible for creativity and dynamism in the area, its future growth is being held back by this gap in transport infrastructure.”

During his first term in office as mayor, Mr Johnson cancelled plans for a major river crossing in east London, but Mr Stanbridge is urging him to reconsider his stance.

He said: "We know that the Mayor shares our enthusiasm for helping the east of the capital to maximise its exciting reinvention. The area is currently attracting the worlds brightest and best whether to the financial heartland of Canary Wharf, the Royal Docks development or the high-tech firms flocking to Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch.

"New road river crossings linking east and south east London over the Thames will bring new jobs and homes to an area of the capital that has been overlooked for too long," he added.

However, Green Party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said that the proposed crossing was not wanted by locals, and that it would add to traffic and create more pollution.

He told the London Evening Standard: “This new road bridge will bring more traffic, congestion and pollution to the streets of east London.

"Local people have been rejecting this bridge for over thirty years and the latest set of pretty artist drawings won’t disguise the fact that this new road will bring pollution and traffic jams to their area. East London has been growing fast and has benefited from several new public transport links in the last few years.

“Evidence to the last public inquiry on this new road showed that it wouldn’t help the local economy, but it would create pollution and congestion.”

36 user comments

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levermonkey wrote:
I live in DA18

Lived near a rather large lake in SE2 till I was 14 then moved about 200 yards into DA18 Wink

I remember in the 1970s we were always promised that the Jubilee Line would come out there eventually...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
1st July 2014 - 19:17

63 Likes

severs1966 wrote:

Shame that cycles were not included in the "Millenium bridge" plan. Or were they? Are you allowed to ride across it?

No, no cycling on the Millennium Bridge. Not that it stops people, but it's usually too full of tourists taking selfies anyway.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [958 posts]
1st July 2014 - 19:51

55 Likes

I don't want this bridge - east London is packed full of cars and congestion and pollution and this will make things much, much worse.

The local economy rarely benefits from this type of thing as it's only a cut through yet the locals will suffer greatly.

BUT THEYRE POOR SO F**K THEM.

The only people that will benefit are the owners of the construction companies that will build it.

Remind me where the Conservative party get their money from again?

posted by StoopidUserName [57 posts]
1st July 2014 - 20:02

58 Likes

£600,000,000

for a bridge?

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [382 posts]
1st July 2014 - 20:07

53 Likes

themartincox wrote:
£600,000,000

for a bridge?

Have you tried buying a large amount of land (needed for the ramps and approach roads) in London recently? The construction of the bridge itself will probably be less than 10% of the total cost.

posted by Joeinpoole [308 posts]
1st July 2014 - 20:15

59 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:

Lived near a rather large lake in SE2 till I was 14 then moved about 200 yards into DA18 Wink
I remember in the 1970s we were always promised that the Jubilee Line would come out there eventually...

Yep! Still waiting for that one and the DLR. It seems amazing to me that there is nothing except buses servicing an area and population the size of Thamesmead.

posted by levermonkey [395 posts]
1st July 2014 - 20:31

60 Likes

I wonder if there's better value for money outside of London town?

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [382 posts]
1st July 2014 - 20:49

52 Likes

jacknorell wrote:
"Local people have been rejecting this bridge for over thirty years and the latest set of pretty artist drawings won’t disguise the fact that this new road will bring pollution and traffic jams to their area. East London has been growing fast and has benefited from several new public transport links in the last few years."

What, like all drivers needing to go into Central London and back out doesn't add congestion and pollution?

Politician in "soundbite before sense" complete non-shocker...

You clearly haven't heard of "induced demand", although it is a well-researched phenomenon with a long history now.

For every vehicle which would be saved the round trip into the centre and back out again, as you claim, there would be several additional crossing trips which have simply not existed before and would not exist without this bridge. Like Everest, it would attract vehicles "because it is there". the effect on local communities would be severe, and the earlier enquiries have made that point, hence the cancellatiopn of previous plans.

We shouldn't be daft enough to fall for the bone we are being tossed this time, of a cycle lane on the bridge. It is simply an attempt to weasel it back onto the agenda. It would be a bridge to nowhere, from nowhere from a cycling perspective, as the cycle tracks woudl terminate abruptly on each bank.

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
1st July 2014 - 21:12

37 Likes

Paul M wrote:

You clearly haven't heard of "induced demand", although it is a well-researched phenomenon with a long history now.

For every vehicle which would be saved the round trip into the centre and back out again, as you claim, there would be several additional crossing trips which have simply not existed before and would not exist without this bridge. Like Everest, it would attract vehicles "because it is there". the effect on local communities would be severe, and the earlier enquiries have made that point, hence the cancellatiopn of previous plans.

We shouldn't be daft enough to fall for the bone we are being tossed this time, of a cycle lane on the bridge. It is simply an attempt to weasel it back onto the agenda. It would be a bridge to nowhere, from nowhere from a cycling perspective, as the cycle tracks woudl terminate abruptly on each bank.

Utter nonsense. This harps back to the 'Green' policy of "We shouldn't build more roads because if we do then people will drive on them".

If every bridge or road simply "induces demand" then maybe we should get rid of them all, no? Or is it only *new* infrastructure that induces demand?

I used to work at the FT's printing plant (closed in 1996) next to the northern exit of the Blackwall Tunnel and commuted in from Kent. It was a nightmare. It is crazy that there is no other river crossing between the Blackwall Tunnel and the M25. Not only is the current infrastructure massively over-capacity, and has been for decades, when something bad happens to one crossing then it is complete gridlock on all the other main routes for hours afterwards.

More people than ever in history live and work in London and we need to expand the infrastructure to reflect this. The revenue generated from the Square Mile *alone* is about 10% of GDP. Effectively it pays for the NHS in its entirety. £600M for a new shiny bridge in the east of London would be money well spent.

posted by Joeinpoole [308 posts]
1st July 2014 - 22:16

42 Likes

I'm not going to use it as I don't live on that side, but all I can say is that having had to drive through the Blackwall tunnel on several occasions, a new bridge would be a great idea...

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

jmaccelari's picture

posted by jmaccelari [173 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 6:15

27 Likes

induced demand works like this:

Say, for example, they built a new cycle-only bridge over the Thames at a point where it was a long ways to the nearest motor-vehicle crossing, thereby making it significantly more convenient to cross on a bicycle than a car for that area... The result would be that some people (that previously used other transport) would ride across the bridge.

In the same way, a new motor vehicle link creates demand for itself by making it more convenient than various other alternatives.

This is the same way that the Netherlands and Denmark induce demand for bicycling: they build the infrastructure, and the fact that it is there, and more convenient (for many) than other alternatives, makes people use it.

The number of people who drive, ride, or take public transport are not fixed numbers but vary according to convenience levels of the various modes of transport.

posted by durrin [20 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 6:31

21 Likes

Induced demand is *not* utter nonsense. A perfect example of induced demand is the M25 - running at capacity shortly after opening, and again after widening schemes to increase capacity.

Here's a primer from the excellent 853 blog on the likely effects of the bridge on the roads of South East London (and some suggestions of more sensible alternatives):

"if you come up with a pretty picture of something and call it “bike-friendly”, you can flog any old crap in London"

http://853blog.com/2014/07/01/bridge-east-london-come-labour-bombs-and-f...

Buffalo_Bill's picture

posted by Buffalo_Bill [4 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 8:14

22 Likes

The bridge is needed. The eastern part of London has crossings at Dartford and the Blackwall Tunnel and nothing in between, other than the Woolwich foot tunnel and of course the DLR and tube links. I'm curious how many of the people making negative comments in this thread about this proposed bridge live in east London, either to the south or north of the river. And how many of those slating the idea make regular journeys using the existing links? I'm guessing not many and I've noted that the positive comments in favour of the bridge seem to come from those who know the area and understand the transport problems. Queueing at the Dartford or Blackwall crossings can take a very long time, particularly when some idiot truck driver has tried to drive an overheight vehicle through the tunnel and caused yet another 5km tailback.

There are ways of connecting this new bridge to the road network too, without having to bulldoze Oxleas Wood. Thamesmead has some very wide and currently underused dual carriageways on the south side of the river. Even the sections of road in Thamesmead that would have to be upgraded to connect with the A2 run through some of the brownest of brown, brownfield former industrial areas in the UK. They certainly wouldn't look any worse for some proper landscaping to get rid of the detritus of abandoned buildings, rusting machinery and heaps of fly-tipped rubbish. The existing South Circular needs an upgrade too and this could add in proper separated cycling infrastructure - there is room for a separate cycle lane pretty much all the way to the junction with the A2 but no-one has bothered to build it so far.

As for the pricetag, £600 million is twice what it would've cost in the early 1990s when there was a plan to build the bridge using a concrete box girder design, but Prince Charles threw his weight into blocking that and called it a carbuncle. Of course, he doesn't live in east London either.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 8:39

28 Likes

When the second Blackwall tunnel was built, the amount of traffic using the Blackwall tunnels route more than doubled in a couple of years. This was far, far beyond background traffic growth in the rest of London, let alone the rest of the country. "Build it and they will come" has always applied with roads capacity.

posted by Al__S [645 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 9:09

28 Likes

Al__S wrote:
When the second Blackwall tunnel was built, the amount of traffic using the Blackwall tunnels route more than doubled in a couple of years. This was far, far beyond background traffic growth in the rest of London, let alone the rest of the country. "Build it and they will come" has always applied with roads capacity.

With all of these projects, what was the impact on traffic on the previously used, now less convenient routes?

Yes, overall, the road use would go up, but these dramatic figures would be offset by smaller decreases in other areas mainly from route shifting.

Still, East London does need another river crossing, one that's also not exclusive to motorised vehicles like the current crossings are.

posted by jacknorell [576 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 9:24

13 Likes

Bridges east of the Tower have to have 50m clearance for shipping. Anyone who's ridden over tall bridges in France or elsewhere will know there's always a gale blowing at the top. This bridge would probably only have 500m ramps, ie 10%. A bridge here may be bike-accessible, but it won't be bike-friendly.

Sven Ellis's picture

posted by Sven Ellis [31 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 9:47

22 Likes

Yet more UK taxpayers money spent on London with the odd scraps thrown to elsewhere.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 10:02

19 Likes

Al__S wrote:
When the second Blackwall tunnel was built, the amount of traffic using the Blackwall tunnels route more than doubled in a couple of years. This was far, far beyond background traffic growth in the rest of London, let alone the rest of the country. "Build it and they will come" has always applied with roads capacity.

London's population has grown a great deal in the last 20 years and so has the number of vehicles being driven in the city and registered in the whole of the UKL. Constricting traffic flow in a particular area will hinder economic development. There are better ways too to encourage people to swith from personal motor vehicle transport to cycling or public transport, but that's something else entirely. And in any case, the public transport system is over-used as it is.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 10:03

22 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:
Al__S wrote:
When the second Blackwall tunnel was built, the amount of traffic using the Blackwall tunnels route more than doubled in a couple of years. This was far, far beyond background traffic growth in the rest of London, let alone the rest of the country. "Build it and they will come" has always applied with roads capacity.

London's population has grown a great deal in the last 20 years and so has the number of vehicles being driven in the city and registered in the whole of the UK. Constricting traffic flow in a particular area will hinder economic development. There are better ways too to encourage people to switch from personal motor vehicle transport to cycling or public transport, but that's something else entirely. And in any case, London's public transport system is over-used as it is as anyone who uses it regularly will attest.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 11:49

11 Likes

Leodis wrote:
Yet more UK taxpayers money spent on London with the odd scraps thrown to elsewhere.

Sod all to do with "UK taxpayers", it's a Transport for London project not the national Highway Agency and following the consultation last year it appears near certain it will be financed as a toll bridge.

posted by bikebot [789 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 12:27

13 Likes

bikebot wrote:
Leodis wrote:
Yet more UK taxpayers money spent on London with the odd scraps thrown to elsewhere.

Sod all to do with "UK taxpayers", it's a Transport for London project not the national Highway Agency and following the consultation last year it appears near certain it will be financed as a toll bridge.

TfL is a government body, some of their funding comes from Central government...

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [506 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 12:53

17 Likes

glynr36 wrote:
bikebot wrote:
Leodis wrote:
Yet more UK taxpayers money spent on London with the odd scraps thrown to elsewhere.

Sod all to do with "UK taxpayers", it's a Transport for London project not the national Highway Agency and following the consultation last year it appears near certain it will be financed as a toll bridge.

TfL is a government body, some of their funding comes from Central government...

All of TfL's money comes from the GLA and it's own ticket sales. It's the GLA that receives money from central government, the same as every other local authority in the country. Of course the reason why central government is in the loop, is to redistributed wealth to poorer regions, to which Londoner's tax bills are a large net contributor.

Whatever a local Government body chooses to spend its money on is between it and the local voters, and nothing to do with anyone else no matter how big the chip on their shoulder.

And as it's going to be a toll bridge, it'll be entirely repaid by the people that use it, the same as the QEII bridge.

posted by bikebot [789 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 13:28

11 Likes

bikebot wrote:

All of TfL's money comes from the GLA and it's own ticket sales. It's the GLA that receives money from central government, the same as every other local authority in the country. Of course the reason why central government is in the loop, is to redistributed wealth to poorer regions, to which Londoner's tax bills are a large net contributor.

Whatever a local Government body chooses to spend its money on is between it and the local voters, and nothing to do with anyone else no matter how big the chip on their shoulder.

And as it's going to be a toll bridge, it'll be entirely repaid by the people that use it, the same as the QEII bridge.

The government funding isn't from GLA, the 2013 Tresasury Spending Rounds specifically states about the setting of Long Term budgets for TfL (as well as HS2), TfL is just a department of DfT. (Reading that for a OU assignment finally served a purpose!)
What you said rings true for everywhere else in the UK, just not London.

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [506 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 13:42

12 Likes

glynr36 wrote:

The government funding isn't from GLA, the 2013 Tresasury Spending Rounds specifically states about the setting of Long Term budgets for TfL (as well as HS2), TfL is just a department of DfT. (Reading that for a OU assignment finally served a purpose!)
What you said rings true for everywhere else in the UK, just not London.

Yep, you're right, it does go direct from the treasury, the GLA is just responsible for negotiating that funding. Doesn't change any other point, London is a large net contributor to the rest of the UK.

I don't have any problem with that, in fact I support the principle. I just find it damn annoying when someone begrudges us spending any money on infrastructure of our own. If you're jealous of our smelly traffic congested bridges, then build your own!

posted by bikebot [789 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 14:38

19 Likes

bikebot wrote:

I don't have any problem with that, in fact I support the principle. I just find it damn annoying when someone begrudges us spending any money on infrastructure of our own. If you're jealous of our smelly traffic congested bridges, then build your own!

Totally, I think most people are envious of the drive of the TfL policy, cycling or other forms, other LA's just seem to do bugger all about it

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [506 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 14:46

8 Likes

Leodis wrote:
Yet more UK taxpayers money spent on London with the odd scraps thrown to elsewhere.

Yes, and when the rest of the country can generate the same income from such a modest investment then ... Devil

I came down to London in 2002. The difference then between a Crane Operator up in Yorkshire and a Crane Operator down here was about £25k a year. London and the South East are the massive engine that powers the UK economy. That is a fact whether you like it or not!

posted by levermonkey [395 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 15:54

16 Likes

Rich71 wrote:
Cycling in London is an utter nightmare,its a fantastic way to explore parts of the city you would never see but the state of the roads,the traffic and lack of dedicated cycling infrastructure make it a death trap for the novice cyclists
Id advise anyone planning to cycle not to unless you are very very experienced,strong fit with excellent bike handling skills
Despite all the bullshit emanating out of Bozo Bullingdon mayors putrid backside cycling safety and investment in London has been an illusion,a fake PR propaganda exercise apart from abit of paint splashed here and there with no segregation from road traffic whatsoever
This country is just a regressive cynical self serving selfish pit of shit run by public school scum who bank on the plebs to vote them in every 5 years and promptly give us all a good buggering for our efforts
nothing will change here,not now,not ever,NEVER
Britain is just an uncivilised backward shitheap and i expect to die on my bike by the likes of Mr Penishead,its inevitable

Calm down mate. You're going to burst a blood vessel at this rate
Smile

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 15:57

8 Likes

Sven Ellis wrote:
...This bridge would probably only have 500m ramps, ie 10%. A bridge here may be bike-accessible, but it won't be bike-friendly.

So? I'd rather have the climb than another 8-10 miles of detour...

posted by jacknorell [576 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 16:41

10 Likes

jacknorell wrote:
Sven Ellis wrote:
...This bridge would probably only have 500m ramps, ie 10%. A bridge here may be bike-accessible, but it won't be bike-friendly.

So? I'd rather have the climb than another 8-10 miles of detour...

Yep, me too. I used to ride across the Forth Road Bridge very regularly and seem to have survived intact. Now that's a longer climb across a much windier bridge.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 17:36

7 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:
The bridge is needed. The eastern part of London has crossings at Dartford and the Blackwall Tunnel and nothing in between, other than the Woolwich foot tunnel and of course the DLR and tube links. I'm curious how many of the people making negative comments in this thread about this proposed bridge live in east London, either to the south or north of the river. And how many of those slating the idea make regular journeys using the existing links? I'm guessing not many and I've noted that the positive comments in favour of the bridge seem to come from those who know the area and understand the transport problems.

The writer of the 853 blog post that I linked is actually a resident, and makes regular journeys using links.

As he says, what is needed is more links such as the East London Line, which is already running close to capacity only a few short years after opening, and has helped to put Haggerston back on the map after 40+ years in oblivion, not another road link.

A decent public transport link similar to the East London Line might help to regenerate Canning Town and North Greenwich, which are currently almost completely isolated from the rest of London, not least by the A13 trunk road, which shows how a big trunk road can decimate local neighbourhoods in cities, not regenerate them.

Buffalo_Bill's picture

posted by Buffalo_Bill [4 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 20:18

2 Likes