Cycling UK has written to the owners of the Humber Bridge following the closure of the structure’s footway to cyclists and pedestrians last weekend, to seek clarification on several issues, including when it might be reopened to people on foot and bikes, and what temporary measures are being drawn up to enable them to cross the estuary in the meantime.
As we reported earlier this week, the footways were closed as an emergency response to a number of recent suicides at the bridge, and while it remains open to vehicle traffic, a 60-mile detour to access alternative crossings via bridges over the Trent and Ouse means people who commute across it by bike or on foot cannot travel to work unless they use other means of crossing, such as their car if they have one, getting a lift from someone else, or taking the bus.
Writing to the chairman of the Humber Bridge Board, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore said that the charity “fully understands the concerns raised by members of the public and groups such as the Humber Bridge Suicide Safety Measures campaign group, who have been calling for more safety measures on the bridge for several years.”
Citing a report in the Hull Daily Mail, he said: “As that group’s spokesperson has made clear, however, closing the bridge to the public is not the solution.
“Indeed, the Covid crisis has highlighted the increased mental health and wellbeing risks associated with social isolation. This is why, through Cycling UK’s community cycling clubs, projects and other activities, we try to encourage people to move and travel more actively, make active travel a realistic option for more people, and through that help them break the cycle of social isolation.
“Closing a bridge to pedestrians and cyclists in response to the tragic number of suicides on the bridge is, respectfully, a reaction to symptoms whilst ignoring the cause.”
He continued: “Statutory bodies do of course sometimes need to make emergency decisions, but nothing that I have read about this decision suggests that it is time-limited, or that any temporary mitigation measures are being put in place to provide alternative means for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the bridge.
“I would, for example, have expected news about a Covid-compliant temporary bus / shuttle service or similar to take pedestrians and cyclists across whilst the footway remains closed.
“Instead, it appears that no consideration whatsoever has been given to how those wishing to use or who are reliant upon active travel can continue to cross the Humber in the vicinity of the Humber Bridge. If I am mistaken, perhaps you could clarify what alternative measures are being considered, and if so when any decision might be made and implemented?”
Summarising the detailed questions he put to the Humber Bridge Board in the letter, Dollimore wrote:
1. Has any traffic regulation order (TRO) been consulted upon, advertised or made to authorise the restriction on the footway, and if so, can you provide a copy of any relevant notification and order?
2. If the TRO process has not been used, under what authority or power has this decision has been made?
3. Whether the decision to impose these restrictions was made by the Board or through delegated powers and, if the latter, whether and when the Board intends to revisit this decision?
4. Can you provide the pedestrian and cyclist traffic count data both pre and post covid to confirm the daily number of cyclists and pedestrian trips across the bridge?
5. What, if any, temporary mitigation measures are being put in place to provide alternative means for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the bridge, or to cross the Humber Estuary in the vicinity of the bridge, whilst the footway remains closed, and when might they be implemented?
The Humber Bridge Board said earlier this week that it is “looking at reopening access to commuters as soon as possible, to minimise disruption to those who cycle or walk to work over the Humber Bridge, and we are considering a range of measures to ensure the situation can be effectively managed once the footways fully reopen.”
Cycling UK has said that it will communicate the Board’s response to its letter once it has been received.
The Samaritans website contains advice to people who are struggling with their mental health on how they can obtain help.
The charity’s advisors can be contacted at any time on the free telephone number 116 123, or via email tojo [at] samaritans.org "> jo [at] samaritans.org with a response time of 24 hours.
It has also developed a self-help app that enables users to “Keep track of how you're feeling, and get recommendations for things you can do to help yourself cope, feel better and stay safe in a crisis.”
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.