Councils and fogwoft to trial managed shared use in foot tunnels
At last, Greenwich Council has proposed a way to more considerate use of the foot tunnels. And it is a bold approach. The Council has asked fogwoft to join them to bid for Greater London Authority money to try out (or trial in the jargon) a use management scheme in both tunnels. The proposal would allow shared use between pedestrians and cyclists at times when the tunnel is fairly empty. It would require cyclists to walk when necessary. It would allow them to cycle when safe. We have agreed to become full partners to the Council bid, together with the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham.
Fogwoft has, since its inception, always called for proper policing of the rules of both foot tunnels. The present rule forbids cycling and we welcomed a recent police presence to enforce the ban and called for it to be repeated. The proposed scheme is still at concept stage and we will not know of the bid’s success until 1 October. If it is successful fogwoft will have a role in advising on the monitoring and evaluation of the scheme. That means ensuring all users are at least happier than with the current situation. If the bid is not successful Greenwich Council have assured us that resources will be found to fund an alternative scheme. Fogwoft expects to be in on the ground floor of any fall-back policy.
The proposed project is not short-term. If it begins with the Woolwich tunnel this year then the Greenwich tunnel will not see the trial extended to it until 2016/17. That’s a long time to wait for some sort of resolution to bad behaviour in the popular Greenwich tunnel. Fogwoft will press for an interim policy of enforcement until any scheme is implemented. Many of our followers regret the absence of the old lift attendants after 2010. The upside is that we now have 24/7 lifts. The downside is that the old “wardens” of the tunnels can no longer police them.
Any shared use policy can be contentious. It also requires to be well-policed. Greenwich Council has pledged its own resources to back a “behavioural change” campaign. At fogwoft we believe that this should target those cyclists who behave appallingly. They are probably a fairly fixed set of offenders and that should make the Council’s (and possibly the police’s) task easier. Whatever the technology used to support the trial it cannot succeed without better behaviour by tunnel users. The scheme must, above all, empower considerate users to effectively challenge any misbehaviour in the tunnels.
The Council proposals are for a trial only. We, and you, will be fully involved in assessing that trial. And we hope to begin that process at our Annual General Meeting on 2 October 2014. By then we should know of the Council’s success in getting funding for the proposed trial. We hope that that meeting will inform our policy in working with the Council to implement a better traffic management system in the tunnels. As to the name of the fund for which the Council is bidding; it is the “Mayor’s Future Streets Incubator Fund”. Let’s hope it hatches something good.
Ian Blore, 25 August 2014