05 August 2010

Keep an Eye on this: Call to ban bikes from South Bank

At the moment, you can cycle along the side of the Thames for its most picture-postcard stretch, past its most iconic sights and bridges: from Vauxhall, past the Houses of Parliament, right underneath the Eye, under the Jubilee Bridge, past the Royal Festival Hall, under Waterloo Bridge with its bookstalls, by the National Theatre with the free summer Watch This Space events, and along the grand spacious riverside boulevard to the Oxo Tower.

You're not really supposed to, but in practice you're allowed, as Kennington People on Bikes entertainingly reported yesterday with comprehensive illustrations.

It's one of the world's great big-city cycling trundles, and ideal on the new Hire Bikes. It's that riverside bit in the picture here.

But the debate over whether it should be allowed it all (and it seems 'tolerated' at the moment rather than being 'legal') has been grumbling along for years. And as SE1 reports, the latest draft strategy to 'develop' cycling suggests it should be forbidden between the Eye and the Oxo. Both support and opposition is vehement and about 50-50.

Opponents say the alternative inland route along Belvedere Road (right) is much safer and more convenient.

Many people (including lots on Lambeth council, who control the Vauxhall-Westminster stretch) want to allow cycling, but have it lightly policed on a 'reasonable behaviour' basis. That seems the most sensible solution to us, preserving comfort for pedestrians but also access for sensible cyclists.

Or we could cordon off territories either side of a Peace Wall like they did in Belfast, one side for pedestrians and the other for terr- er, cyclists, and put up loads of bold murals. That could become a tourist attraction in its own right.

Anyway, today's picture of a cycle hire docking station is the one on Belvedere Road, where you'll have to cycle if the ban eventually goes ahead. The ones round here are usually full in the evening - not ideal if you're looking to dock your hire bike and you're late for your event.


  1. You have to have the patience of a saint to cycle down the South Bank at most times of the day or night ... I never liked it because it was never clear when you could or couldn't cycle (I took the 'cyclist dismount' signs round the OXO tower as a sign that I could cycle up to that point) and anyway you could never go above a walking pace.

  2. There is a docking station on Albert Embankment.

    This is a link (http://origin.tfl.gov.uk/assets/images/general/albert-embankment-fullsize2.jpg)

    to a TfL 'artist's impression' commissioned ahead of the launch of the scheme, but the docking station is definitely there.

    So what message does this give? Surely, that cycling is permitted along the Thames.

  3. I suspect that as always the idiots who race along the pavement by the river scaring the tourists and others have spoiled it for us.

    They say on the canals, "If you are in a hurry use the M6", so perhaps speed merchant cyclists could join the Porsches on the Embankment?