Pedestrians battle with cyclists, Thames foot tunnel survey warns

Greenwich-Isle of Dogs tunnel under the Thames

Greenwich-Isle of Dogs tunnel under the Thames - Credit: Archant

Conflict is likely to grow between people using two pedestrian tunnels under the Thames and cyclists, skateboarders and rollerskaters breaching bylaws, a survey has warned.

Greenwich-Isle of Dogs tunnel under the Thames

Greenwich-Isle of Dogs tunnel under the Thames - Credit: Archant

More than 3,000 people pass through the Greenwich-Millwall and the Woolwich foot tunnels to cross the river each day, according to Friends of the Tunnel calculations.

Half the tunnel users are cyclists—and most appear to ignore bylaws forbidding riding, the group has found.

“Reducing ill-will between different users should be a priority in the newly-refurbished tunnels,” said the group’s media spokesman Dr Francis Sedgemore. “A bylaw prohibits cycling, skateboarding and rollerskating in both tunnels which are officially designated pedestrian rights of way.

“Both tunnels are narrow. But up to 80 per cent of cyclists as well as many skateboarders and rollerskaters don’t comply with the bylaw, maybe because enforcement is absent.”

The Greenwich tunnel between Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs and the Cutty Sark in Greenwich town centre could be more prone to conflict because it is narrower than the minimum for shared use as defined in the London Cycling Design standards, the Friends group stresses.

The group suggests a bylaw change only if there is public demand. So it has launched an informal online survey this week, following its public meeting in January, to test opinion on how the tunnels should be used and to focus any proposal to Greenwich local authority which is responsible for tunnel upkeep. The online survey is open until April 25.

Refurbishment work which has lasted well over two years is due to be completed by next month. New lifts have been installed at each end of the Woolwich tunnel, but aren’t operating yet. Lifts in the Greenwich tunnel had ventilation problems affecting the electric switching gear which is now being sorted out.

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Meanwhile, pedestrians continue using the tunnels 24-hours a day, while work is carried out—despite the conflict with cyclists breaching the bylaw by riding through.