Cyclists need a new Thames bridge to Canary Wharf – and you can help fund it

Matt Winfield
London commuters ride their bikes over t
Demand is growing – but the infrastructure isn't keeping up (Source: Getty)

It's no secret that cycling is big, and getting bigger, in the City. But while progress is being made, London’s cycling infrastructure still needs to get on its bike and catch up with demand. And if it’s going to catch up, it’s going to need the City’s help.

What we see on our commutes is backed up by the facts. People on bikes now make up a quarter of rush hour traffic in London. The Central London Cycling Census found that 9,245 bicycles cross London Bridge each day, averaging 11 a minute. An average of 645,000 trips per day were cycled in 2015, which is the equivalent of 20 per cent of all Tube trips. These numbers are only going up.

Occupying a fifth of the space of a car, providing door-to-door journeys with major health benefits, we know cycling has a central role in keeping London moving and connecting our growing capital.

Read more: The Gtech eBike takes the effort out of uphill slogs

And Londoners are beginning to find it easier and safer to cycle in their city thanks to the new Cycle Superhighways at Blackfriars Bridge and along the Embankment, with the “mini-Holland” programme for outer London and new quiet routes also set to open this year. This extra infrastructure will cut overall overcrowding on public transport, reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and make our streets more pleasant places to be.

But there is far more to do. Even now the demand for cycle parking outstrips supply two to one. New office buildings have to pre-let this parking to future tenants. While still being built the Walkie-Talkie had pre-let 100 per cent of its cycle parking spaces in comparison to 50 per cent of its office space.

This trend looks set to continue with London’s population growth. East London is a case in point. A third of the capital’s growth to 2030 is expected to happen in the east, including a doubling of the number of jobs on the Isle of Dogs and over 4,000 new homes around Canada Water station. There just isn’t the cycling infrastructure to cope with this increase in demand.

Read more: The remarkable rise of east London

If you live in South East London and work in Canary Wharf and want to cycle to work, you struggle as there are no bridges east of Tower Bridge. There is a gap between the commute people want and the commute you have.

That is why we are campaigning for a new bike and pedestrian bridge to be built across the Thames, between Canary Wharf and Southwark. It would give people the safe, car-free and clean commute they need, bridging the gap between where they live and where they work. It would also enable 13,000 clean commutes every day – the equivalent of 15 full tube trains.


What the new bridge could look like

Our recent YouGov poll revealed that over a third of Londoners back a new pedestrian and bike bridge over the Thames in East London, even if that meant less money would be spent on road and rail projects. Our new mayor understands this and has pledged to do all he can to deliver the bridge by 2020. So far he has had cross party support for this universally popular project.

The previous mayor’s Cycle Superhighway plans received support from over 180 major businesses. With this existing support in the City, our new mayor must deliver his manifesto pledges to increase the proportion of TfL’s budget spent on cycling and invest in new routes and safer streets.

Importantly for the City, cycling infrastructure makes financial sense. Our Sustrans feasibility study showed that a pedestrian and bike bridge in East London would save London’s economy £10m per year in reduced commute times.

But in return, the bridge needs the City’s support in the form of private funding. As part of National Bike Week, we are asking the City to pledge to invest in this new pedestrian and bike bridge, an investment in its employees, to make this world-beating capital even better.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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