Caroline Pidgeon AM, Liberal Democrat chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, has called on Greenwich Council Leader Chris Roberts to provide an alternative river crossing for hundreds of cyclists when the Greenwich Foot Tunnel closes for up to 18 months for renovation. Cyclists and pedestrians are also threatened with the closure of the 'sister' Woolwich Foot Tunnel at the same time.
Cllr Pidgeon met a group of cyclists at the Cutty Sark outside the south entrance to the Foot Tunnel with Liberal Democrat group leader on Greenwich Council Brian Woodcraft, Cllr Paul Webbewood, and Lib Dem councillors from Lewisham.
After using the lift and inspecting the Tunnel, Caroline Pidgeon said:
"Chris Roberts and Boris Johnson cannot just leave hundreds of cyclists who depend on the Foot Tunnel to get to work every day without an alternative. They face either biking many extra miles to cross Tower Bridge or to use the Woolwich Ferry. The Blackwall and Rotherhithe Tunnels are too dangerous for cyclists and DLR rules do not permit bikes. The Council and the Mayor must find a workable alternative."
A letter to the Greenwich Council Leader jointly signed by Cllr Pidgeon, who chairs the Assembly Transport Committee, Cllr Chris Maines from Lewisham Council, and Cllrs Brian Woodcraft and Paul Webbewood, urges Greenwich council to work with other agencies to find a practical solution to the problem. In their letter the Liberal Democrats have suggested the possibility of arranging with Thames Clippers to provide extra ferry crossings from Cutty Sark to Masthouse Terrace, and to investigate whether the Greenwich Foot Tunnel needs to shut completely for 18 months.
Caroline Pidgeon is seeking a meeting with river ferry operators Thames Clippers and also with tourist agency VisitLondon, who promote the World Heritage site at Greenwich to foreign tourists and have an interest in minimising disruption. She will also be tabling further questions to Mayor Boris Johnson on the issue:
"Mayor Boris Johnson cannot just wash his hands of this issue. Greenwich Foot Tunnel is a strategic route for cyclists and pedestrians from several boroughs north and south of the river. It is a famous visitor attraction in its own right. Boris portrays himself as the cycling Mayor: he now needs to work with Greenwich Council to find and fund a workable solution while the necessary renovation work is carried out."
The website This Is Local London covers the story here.