Plans to build a cycle bridge between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe have taken a significant step forward.

Cycling charity Sustrans has been given £200,000 to explore the idea’s potential – £170,000 has come from Transport for London and £30,000 from business. The charity hopes to report back at the end of the summer.

Plans for the so-called Brunel Bridge involve a 400m span between the south bank and Canary Wharf in the Westferry area.

Proposals for a bridge were first raised in 2006 but received a boost when the December’s National Infrastructure Plan said they were “worth looking at in more detail” as part of the wider east London river crossings strategy. Mayor Boris Johnson said: “I do agree there should be a crossing in that area.”

The bridge could be delivered by 2020, taking people off public transport and creating a new route for pedestrians and cyclists between Woolwich and Greenwich foot tunnels.

Sustrans chief Malcolm Shepherd said: “This crossing could enable millions of sustainable cross-river journeys and make it far easier for people to choose a healthier travel option.

“With high-quality links to destinations either side, it will make walking and cycling a real choice for hundreds of thousands of residents, workers and visitors.”

TfL’s managing director for planning Richard de Cani said: “As London’s population grows, we need a number of new river crossings to improve connectivity and reduce congestion on existing road and rail services.

“A new pedestrian and cycle crossing between the Isle of Dogs and Rotherhithe and Canada Water would encourage more people to walk and cycle to Canary Wharf, improving access to amenities and jobs and providing an alternative to the Jubilee line for shorter trips.

“TfL is working with Sustrans and the private sector on developing this proposal by pledging funding towards the first phase of feasibility work.”

Isabel Dedring, deputy mayor for transport said: “More than a third of London’s expected population growth is expected to happen in east London and we urgently need more crossings - for all types of transport users. So we are delighted to be able to offer this funding to help progress Sustrans’ proposed cycling and walking bridge."