Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, has called for plans for a bridge across the Thames for cyclists and walkers between Rotherhithe, on the south bank of the river, and the Canary Wharf financial district to be brought forward.
The proposed bridge is one of a number of initiatives, including river crossings, outlined by the mayor today that will aim to encourage cycling, walking and use of public transport in the east of the capital as development of the Thames Gateway continues.
The bridge between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe could be open by 2020, dependent on securing funding and land, as well as requisite approvals, and Transport for London (TfL) has already performed analysis on whether a bascule or swing bridge would be more suitable to let river traffic through.
A proposed design for the bridge unveiled last year was based on the bascule model most famously used in Tower Bridge, although the mayor stressed today that no final design has yet been chosen.
Mr Khan committed to the bridge, which will provide a link for people to the south of the river to the East-West Cycle Superhighway, in his manifesto during the mayoral election campaign earlier this year.
Currently, there is no bridge of any type between Tower Bridge, which is closed for repairs until the end of the year, and the Dartford Crossing.
Options to cross the river in between by bike can be time-consuming, impractical and, in the case of the Rotherhithe Tunnel, a deeply unpleasant experience that deters all but the most committed cyclists.
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans, which has lobbied for the crossing for several years and received a £200,000 grant from TfL to undertake a feasibility study, has welcomed the news.
Its chief executive officer, Xavier Brice, said: “We’re excited that the new administration has taken its first steps to bridging the gap between the journeys Londoners make and the healthy journeys by bike and foot that Londoners need.
“Delivering world class infrastructure is never easy, but it’s what this great City deserves. Together, all of us responsible for delivering transport infrastructure in London, need to work tirelessly to ensure the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf Bike Bridge is delivered in a timely and cost effective manner, bridging the gap between great idea and efficient delivery.”
Other measures outlined by Mr Khan today include an overhaul of plans for the proposed Silvertown Tunnel, roughly following the route of the Emirates Air Line cable car service, including looking at providing “a bespoke cycle-bus which will carry cyclists and their bikes through the tunnel on a turn-up and go basis.”
A similar system operates at the Dartford Crossing, where cyclists wanting to get to the other side of the river can contact the control room which dispatches a 4x4 equipped with bike racks to take them across.
There are also plans for a new crossing for the DLR – where bikes are now carried outside peak times, when they are restricted to folding bicycles – at Gallions Reach between Thamesmead and Beckton, while the feasibility of an Overground link from Barking Riverside to Abbey Wood and a ferry from North Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs is also being examined.
Mr Khan said: “It’s no secret that London has long needed more river crossings in the east. With new homes and economic growth across East London, it becomes even more important that we deliver new greener transport links that allow Londoners to cross the river quickly and more easily.
"But we don’t want these to have a damaging impact on our environment, and that’s why I’ve reviewed and improved plans for Silvertown Tunnel and why I’m pushing forward with crossings that encourage public transport, walking and cycling,” he added.
"As we continue to unlock the massive economic potential of East London, we must secure the very best transport infrastructure that improves the quality of life for everyone living and working in the area.”
Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokeswoman Caroline Pidgeon said the planned cycling and walking bridge is the "most needed river crossing" in the city.
“Having long supported and campaigned for the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf pedestrian and cycle bridge I am delighted that the Mayor is now committed to accelerating this project," she said.
“This is London’s most needed river crossing. It will enable thousands of people to cross the Thames by bike or foot in a part of London where it practically impossible to do so at present.
“I cannot think of any other proposed river crossing that will deliver such huge benefits for so little public money. The bridge will also play a critical role in reducing pressure on the overcrowded Jubilee Line, especially between Surrey Docks and Canary Wharf," Ms Pidgeon added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.