Legal cycling in Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels moves a step closer after council vote

The prospect of cycling being formally allowed in Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels moved a step closer last night after Greenwich councillors unanimously backed plans to change the bye-laws governing the river crossings.

Cycling has always been officially banned in the tunnels, although the rules stopped being enforced after Greenwich Council, which controls the crossings, stopped using lift attendants as part of a refurbishment scheme which saw user-operated facilities installed.

The growth both in cycling and of Canary Wharf as a major employment centre has, however, seen the Greenwich tunnel become a major commuting route for riders.

The Greenwich tunnel is now being used for a trial where cycling is permitted at quieter times, with electronic signs telling riders to dismount at busy periods when bikes can cause a hazard.

Tunnel user group Fogwoft has raised concerns that the law regarding rollerskaters and skateboarders needs to be clarified, and that the new law still technically prohibits unicycles.

The law change was passed without discussion at last night’s Greenwich Council meeting (see it here, 1 hour, nine minutes and 19 seconds in).

This is not the end of the process – Tower Hamlets Council has to agree to the change for Greenwich Foot Tunnel at one of its meetings, with Newham councillors needing to vote on the Woolwich tunnel. This website understands there is some unhappiness on the Isle of Dogs about cycling being permitted in the tunnel, leading to the possibility of some Tower Hamlets councillors objecting.

It’s not all easy going for cyclists in the tunnels right now – the Greenwich tunnel’s south lift has only recently reopened after being out of action for some time, a consequence of problems dating back to the botched 2011 refurbishment of the tunnels.