Bike riders wanting to use a proposed cycling and walking bridge across the River Thames between Battersea and Fulham would have to take their bikes up and down stairs or use a lift to access the deck level because of lack of space at the landing points, it has emerged.
The Diamond Jubilee Bridge, which would run alongside one carrying the railway line between, would span the river from close to Fred Wells Gardens in Battersea to Chelsea Harbour.
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Originally conceived in 2011 as a pedestrian bridge and designed on a pro bono basis by architects One World Design, the growth of cycling in London means the design has now been adapted to provide separate pedestrian and cycle lanes.
However, in a blog post on LinkedIn, Chris Medland, director at One World Design, explained that issues specific to the site meant that it would not be possible to provide ramps for people to cycle up to deck level.
He wrote: “The site of the bridge is selected based on need and as decided by the adopted plans of the local councils and the London Plan.
“The site is constrained by land ownership and the railway line and without partnership with Network Rail the provision of full cycle access ramps is problematic.”
Access to deck level for cyclists would be gained either through using a lift, or going up the stairs, which would be equipped with bike gutters similar to those employed at some railway stations.
To accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians, the deck would be wider than originally envisaged, meaning the cost of the project would rise from £26 million to £30 million, according to a report commissioned last year by Transport for London (TfL) from engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald.
Medland said: “At this cost the bridge still represents high value for money in terms of cost:benefit ratio and is around half the cost of the nearest proposed bridge at Nine Elms.”
He continued: “Assuming the council choose to progress the wider deck version of the bridge, this has raised around 30-40 per cent of the funding required so far. The bridge is public, will be owned by Wandsworth Council and will be open 24/7/365.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has included the project within his 25-year London Transport Plan, though he insists TfL will not be providing funding for it.
With One World Design granting the London Borough of Wandsworth the design licence on a pro bono basis, Medland said that “we expect the bridge will be put out to tender through the open procurement process.
“Our aim now is to make sure this bridge happens, and is developed in a way that suits the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. This is a needed true piece of local sustainable infrastructure and will make a great difference to this part of London that we call home.
“Our intention is and always has been that funding is sourced as far as practicable from a naming rights sponsor and we have been working in the background over the past six years to make this happen.
“Now, happily, we have an expert in these matters to guide us and with the engagement of TfL’s commercial department (as instructed by the Mayor) this approach stands a better chance than ever,” he added.
“The detail of how the appropriate brand gets sufficient exposure is to be agreed and clearly any physical branding with need the approval of the councils and other statutory authorities. It may be that any branding is temporary, say for the first 10 years for instance.”
Assuming a sponsor can be found within the next six to 12 months, the bridge could be open by summer 2010 or spring 2020, said Medland – although he cautioned that without private backing, it would take another generation to be completed.”
While some Twitter users were critical of the lack of access ramps, Green Party Assembly Member Caroline Russell defended the project, pointing out that the issue was related to land ownership, and that as a pro bono design with no public funding.
“Want to have perfect ramps but Network Rail are the block to that,” she wrote. “So gutter for pushing and lift. It's an elegant simple thoughtful design.”
She continued: “I think people should take a step back before being hyper critical. If had had public £s then I'd understand but this is designed by someone who had the imagination to see that a bridge could really make a difference and they've designed pro bono the best bridge they can.
“Given the constraints, I think it's phenomenal. It's ready to go and not a penny of public £s spent.
She added: “It's central London - there is very little physical space. Buildings to the waterline. Pretty miraculous the landing points are available.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.