TfL proposes a special “bike bus” for cyclists to use the Silvertown Tunnel

When it opens, cyclists wont be allowed to use the new Silvertown Tunnel but could be offered a specially adapted shuttle bus to carry their bikes through the tunnel.

One of two early concepts (c) TfL

At the moment, there isn’t a convenient cyclist route across the Thames in the North Greenwich area, other than folding bikes on the Jubilee line or the cable car, or via the Greenwich foot tunnel. The existing Blackwall tunnel doesn’t allow cyclists to use the road, and neither will the Silvertown tunnel being built next to it.

Transport for London (TfL) has now opened an eight-week consultation on a proposal that could see an adapted bus carrying bikes through the tunnel instead.

Based on work to date, TfL says that its preferred and safest option is a new bespoke bus shuttle service for cyclists. The consultation includes indicative proposals for drop off and pick-up locations for the service, integrating with the existing cycle infrastructure north and south of the river.

The shuttle bus could operate as a ‘timetabled’ service starting with six buses per hour, with the possibility to grow the service in future in response to demand. Feedback from the consultation will inform the final frequency, stop locations and route for the service to operate.

The consultation has also not confirmed yet if people will need to pay to use the bike-bus shuttle service, or if it will be free of charge.

For the cycle-bus vehicle, there are two main options under consideration – a vehicle that allows cyclists and bikes on board, possibly with internal racks or storage areas, or a vehicle with a bicycle trailer fitted to the back. As the vehicles themselves have not been specified yet, their nature and design will be informed by feedback from the consultation alongside discussions with potential suppliers on the detailed options.

One of two early concepts (c) TfL

The proposed bike-bus stops would be near the Blackwall DLR station on the north side, and close to the Odeon/IKEA on the south side.

This won’t be the first time a bus-bike has been used to cross the Thames, as there used to be a similar service in the Dartford Tunnel in the 1960s using a specially modified double-decker bus. Although it only lasted two years, and these days you have to request a lift across from their transfer service.

The consultation is here.

TfL is also asking respondents whether they would use a future new ferry service in the area. Such a service is currently unaffordable, but TfL says that it is keeping this option under review in case the necessary investment for piers, boats and supporting infrastructure become available as part of local redevelopment.

It’s worth noting that there used to be a ferry across the Thames at this location, linking the Millenium Dome with East India on the north side, however, the river pier on the north side was removed in 2015. The last time I checked, in 2021, there was still a sign there advertising the service as a Jubilee line replacement ferry service.

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