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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Ross Lydall

TfL to launch 'bike bus' through Silvertown tunnel - despite many cyclists saying they will not use it

A “bike bus” is be launched through the Silvertown tunnel – despite many cyclists saying they will not use it.

Transport for London has announced that it will proceed with the cyclists-only shuttle bus proposal – though its own consultation found that a ferry was a far more popular option.

The bike bus will run at least every 12 minutes between Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown, via the new Silvertown Tunnel, and operate seven days a week from 6.30am until 9.30pm.

It will be free for “at least” the first year of operation. It is due to launch in spring 2025 when the Silvertown tunnel opens. TfL will now seek a bus company to operate the service, which it is committed to keeping in place for at least three years.

A consultation run by TfL last year on the bike bus proposal attracted 684 responses, including 21 from stakeholders.

Asked whether they would use a bike bus, the IFS cable car or a combination of both to cross the river, half of the respondents (225 people) said they would use a shuttle bus while 140 said they would use the cable car.

However, 236 respondents stated they would not use either option.

Of those expressing a preference, 225 respondents (37 per cent) stated they would use a shuttle bus service, compared with 140 (25 per cent) saying they would use the cable car.

A clear majority, 450 respondents or 83 per cent, said they would be more likely to use the shuttle bus for leisure journeys than for commuting.


TfL’s consultation report, which was published on Wednesday alongside the proposed £4 peak toll for car drivers, said: “We also noted that the ferry option was popular amongst the respondents, with nearly 80 per cent saying that they would consider using a ferry service if it was provided in the future.

“In the longer term, it is our ambition to provide excellent connectivity for all modes across the river in this part of London and we will continue to explore the ferry option and work with private sector partners and operators on their plans to develop and deliver the required infrastructure to secure new cycle friendly piers and boats.”

Cyclists are not allowed to ride through the Blackwall tunnel nor the Silvertown tunnel for safety reasons.

The new bike bus will use “vehicles which provide space inside to store bicycles, rather than a trailer and minibus” system.

The bus stops will be located at the northern side of the river close to Tidal Basin Roundabout/Western Gateway and on the Greenwich Peninsula on Millennium Way.

A majority of respondents (328 people, 54 per cent) said they would not pay a fare for the shuttle bus service, with 246 people (40 per cent) saying they would.

More than 90 cyclists told TfL there should be a cycle lane or cycle tunnel at Silvertown.

But Tfl said: “We have carefully considered whether cyclists could be accommodated within the new Silvertown Tunnel.

“The analysis indicated that there would be limited demand for a facility for cyclists within the tunnel and that there would be significant challenges to designing a facility that would be both safe and attractive for cyclists given how long the tunnel will be.

“Allowing bikes into the bus lane is not acceptable from a road safety perspective due to the constrained nature of the tunnel environment and would impact the speed and reliability of buses.”

The cable car, which cyclists can use for free in the morning rush hour, follows a similar route to the Silvertown tunnel.

Asked why it was planning a cycle bus to replicate the cable car service, TfL said: “The cable car is also unable to operate in some circumstances, such as poor weather, which is known to make it a less attractive option for commuter use.

“Additionally, the cable car is available to pedestrians as well as cyclists, often leading to cyclists experiencing long waiting times to use the service. We feel that the cycle shuttle service resolves this issue as it is going to be restricted to cyclist use only.”

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