Greenwich Foot Tunnel

Last Thursday I crossed the Greenwich foot tunnel, part of ‘Cycle National Route no. 1’, with a fairly loaded bike.

It is a convenient way of crossing the river, the only one East of Tower bridge suitable for pedestrians and bikes apart from the Woolwich ferry two miles to the east.

tunnel2Except when the lifts are not working.

Which was the case last Thursday. No signage on either side of the tunnel; I only learnt about it once I was in front of the lift, faced with:
a) going back and bike along the river either to Tower Bridge or Woolwich Ferry, adding about an hour to my journey.
b) loading my heavy bike on my shoulder up the stairs.

I carried my bike much to the pitiful glances of other tunnel users stopping to make space for me and my bike. As the stairs are not wide enough for two people to cross paths comfortably let alone for an additional object like a bike.

Then I needed to cross the Thames again today, again East of Tower Bridge. This time, I went online to check if the lifts were working. Not one notice online, and again not one notice at either end of the tunnel. This website claims to give updates about this and also Woolwich tunnel, although only if they are closed.

Now, I am an able cyclst, I can even lift up my bike and make up for the lack of a lift. But what if I were a disabled wheel chair user?

Businesses, charities, community clubs and the like face being fined for failing to make their premises fully accessible for wheel chair users. Yet this ‘public highway’ seems to erratically remain inaccessible to such users, leaving them with the only option of going back all the way to the other side of the tunnel – remember there is absolutely no sign at the South entrance to say ‘the lift at the other end of the tunnel is not working’ – to find some kind of alternative, transport to cross the river.

Here are some pictures, one of which gives an idea of how ‘comfortable’ (not) it must be to carry a bike with luggage on those stairs: