Hammersmith Bridge to reopen to cyclists

Image above: Hammersmith Bridge

Cyclists may have access for up to 10 weeks

Cyclists, cargo bikes and e-scooters will be be able to cross Hammersmith Bridge from next Tuesday (13 February), after a new two-way central lane has been created to ‘allow greater access to residents, visitors and businesses on both sides of the river’.

Spanning three metres wide, the cycle lane is likely to remain open for around 10 weeks, meaning cyclists will no longer have to dismount and walk their bikes across, freeing up footways for pedestrians.

Motorbikes and mopeds will still be banned. Marshals will be on duty 24/7 to handle traffic management.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council say the decision to repair and reopen the carriageway comes because of a pause in stabilisation works on the Grade II* listed bridge.

Completion of stabilisation had to be suspended due to the requirement for some prefabricated steel plates for the pedestals, while damage caused to the bridge’s gantry by a boat carrying football fans has made it difficult to carry out safety checks.

The accident in December caused significant damage to the bridge. A boat carrying West Ham United football fans to Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage severed the 130-metre-long steel gantry running under the bridge. This platform is required for maintenance workers to access the underside of the bridge.

The gantry is now being repaired and the new steel plates being manufactured. Until those works are completed and stabilisation can resume, the Council has taken the opportunity to create a temporary central cycle lane on the bridge.

Image above: Hammersmith Bridge

Other vehicles will have to wait

The final stage of the stabilisation project is the jacking up of the four corner pedestals to enable the replacement of the bridge’s bearings.

Following that, H&F will review e-mobility options to shuttle residents across the bridge, notably the elderly or disabled, subject to a 1.5-tonne weight limit imposed by safety experts.

Hammersmith Bridge – made out of wood and wrought iron with the suspension held in place by cast iron pedestals – is one of the world’s oldest suspension bridges. That is why, at £250m, it is also one of Britain’s most expensive and complex to repair.

H&F Council say the Department for Transport (DfT) has ‘delayed consideration of their business case for the full restoration of the bridge, which would allow full use by motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians’.

It was submitted to the Department of Transport last year and had been expected to be agreed before Christmas.

Cllr Sharon Holder, H&F Cabinet Member for the Public Realm, said:

“Hammersmith Bridge is a major regional transport asset that will cost a massive £250m to repair. This is a national and a London issue with most users of the bridge coming from south London and the A3 corridor. Fixing this historic bridge requires the support of both national and regional government.

“We are committed to the full re-opening of Hammersmith Bridge to motor vehicles including buses, and we are doing all in our powers to deliver on that commitment. But we are a small local authority, and we must have the financial support of the DfT and Transport for London, as well as an agreement to fund our share via a toll.”