Government Gives Funding for Hammersmith Bridge Cycle Lane

Will open in November after resurfacing work

The current cycle lane is temporary and may be closed before summer

April 8, 2024

Campaigners are calling for a ‘long-term solution’ to Hammersmith Bridge involving active travel and public transport, as the Government announces £2.9 million for a new cycle lane on the crossing. The Government says the money will enable the bridge to be resurfaced, with the new lane to last for the foreseeable future.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which owns the bridge, opened a temporary cycle lane in February. No firm date for its removal has been confirmed, though this is likely to be within the next month or so, when stabilisation works are expected to continue.

A spokesperson for the council said they are ‘grateful’ to the Departments for Transport (DfT) for the funding, and that they “look forward to its approval of our business case for the full restoration of the historic bridge”.

The Grade-II* listed crossing has been shut to motor vehicles since 2019, after micro-fractures were identified in its pedestals. It was partially reopened to pedestrians and cyclists in 2021, though since then repairs have stalled.

The Government wants the reported £250 million cost to be split between taxpayers, Transport for London (TfL) and the council. Hammersmith and Fulham however is awaiting approval for a business case submitted with ministers last year, which the DfT claims it is still reviewing to “ensure it is viable and offers value for money”.

The council says that while it is committed to the full reopening of the bridge to motor vehicles, it requires the support of the DfT and TfL, as well as an agreement to pay for its share via a toll.

The new funding takes the Government’s total investment in the bridge to nearly £13m, while the council has sunk more than £30m since it was closed five years ago. The cycle lane is expected to be introduced in November this year.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said, “Today’s new funding is the latest example of the Government’s ongoing commitment to support efforts to reopen Hammersmith Bridge.

“Cyclists and pedestrians will be able to continue to use the bridge safely, with this latest funding from Government another important step towards fully reopening the bridge for motorists and all Londoners as quickly as possible.”

Conservative MP Greg Hands, who represents the neighbouring Chelsea and Fulham constituency and has campaigned to have the bridge reopened to motor vehicles, said, “This new funding shows the Government is committed to Hammersmith Bridge. But now the council and TfL need to step up and get the bridge reopened to buses, cars and emergency vehicles, as they’ve repeatedly pledged to do. It’s been five years of inaction from LBHF since the bridge closed in 2019 and people have lost patience with them.”

The Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney, said while the funding is welcome, “this small step does not hide the fact that no further commitment has been made by ministers towards fully repairing the bridge.

“Almost 5 years since the Conservatives first vowed they would fix the bridge back in 2019, we are still waiting for them to honour their commitment.

“It is time for them to honour that pledge, step up to fund the repairs and end this ongoing nightmare for local residents.”

Richmond Park MP welcomed funding by said full repair is needed to "end this ongoing nightmare for local residents"

Jakub Mamczak, Senior Campaigns Officer at the London Cycling Campaign, said, “The cycle lane across Hammersmith Bridge makes it a more enjoyable environment for people cycling as well as walking and wheeling across the bridge, connecting communities on both sides of the Thames. This should be part of a long-term solution to the bridge, along with ideas such as using light vehicles to replace buses.

“We urge Hammersmith and Fulham Council, the Government and TfL to, instead of spending huge sums to enable more driving while we’re in a climate crisis, to move to a plan for active travel and public transport and not using Hammersmith Bridge ever again for private motor vehicles.”

Leo Murray, co-director of climate charity Possible which wants the bridge to remain closed to traffic, said, “This fantastic news is the first sign of reality dawning on the political debate around the future of Hammersmith Bridge, and politicians embracing a positive vision for this crossing.

"With a proper cycle crossing over the Thames here, most people will be able to make the local journeys they need to in a clean, cheap and healthy way that helps solve London’s environmental problems instead of making them worse.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said, “We are grateful to the DfT for the £2.9m carriageway funding and look forward to its approval of our business case for the full restoration of the historic bridge.”

The temporary cycle lane was introduced by the council after a boat carrying West Ham fans crashed into the bridge last December.

Stabilisation works had to be paused while repairs were carried out on the gantry, with the council opting to open the cycle lane in the interim. Prior to this, cyclists had to dismount and walk across the bridge alongside pedestrians.

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter