Cycle trial set for Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels

By Rob Virtue on August 27, 2014 9:35 AM |

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A trial which will allow cyclists to ride through the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels could begin in the coming months.

Greenwich Council has applied to the Mayor's Future Streets Incubator Fund for £100,000 to run a digital focused system for managing shared use of the links under the River Thames.

A long-standing ban on those pedalling through the tunnels is regularly flouted. However, a recent poll by the Friends of Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels found 56% of people would like the routes shared between cyclists and pedestrians.

Ian Blore of FOGWOFT, which is working with the council on the trial, said: "The proposal would allow shared use between pedestrians and cyclists at times when the tunnel is fairly empty.

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"It would require cyclists to walk when necessary. It would allow them to cycle when safe. We have agreed to become full partners to the Council bid, together with the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham."

He added the shared use would have to be well-policed and said Greenwich Council has pledged to back a "behavioural change" campaign.

"We believe that this should target those cyclists who behave appallingly," said Ian.

"They are probably a fairly fixed set of offenders and that should make the Council's, and possibly the police's, task easier. Whatever the technology used to support the trial it cannot succeed without better behaviour by tunnel users."

Greenwich said it would use digital technology to provide "clear, timely and appropriate signage that balances the space available according to the particular flows and user types at all times of day".

But while the first cyclists may legally be able to ride through the Woolwich tunnel later this year or early next, those using Greenwich are likely to have to wait until 2016 at the earliest.

This is because the Greenwich Tunnel is used by over 3,000 people a day compared to Woolwich's 500, making it a more complicated scheme.

In the meantime, FOGWOFT has called for an "interim policy of enforcement".

Tactics to deter people cycling through the tunnels prior to a trial will be discussed by FOGWOFT at its annual general meeting on October 2, at a venue yet to be decided.

Transport for London will decide on the incubator fund proposal by October 1. However, if it does not achieve funding from TfL, Greenwich said it will pay for the scheme itself.