Publication from Caroline Russell: Letter to Heidi Alexander on shovel-ready projects and toilet access
Cremorne bridge – a shovel-ready project, river crossings for walking and cycling, access to toilets
Thank you again for your time and that of your senior Transport for London colleagues in recent weeks as well as your openness on the challenges and opportunities for transport in London. I would like to quickly follow up after Transport Committee with a suggestion of a shovel-ready project for you to put to the government this week, to raise some issues about river crossings in relation to the Streetspace plans and outline the urgent need for more TfL toilets.
Firstly, I wanted to ask that you include the shovel-ready river crossing between Battersea and Fulham, the Cremorne footbridge in your representation to government on Thursday. There has been a consented scheme for this bridge since 2014. The bridge is fully designed and already adopted in policy by both Hammersmith & Fulham and Wandsworth Councils. The promoters of the bridge have already secured much of the necessary funding from Community Infrastructure Levy raised in Wandsworth.
The current need for physical distancing while we live with the ongoing virus threat and the concern about gridlock as people get in their cars to avoid public transport only serve to boost the case for more Thames crossings. The Cremorne bridge is a plan that is ready for a final boost of capital investment to realise the benefits of a new crossing, ready to support a green recovery. I have separately forwarded full details of the current position on the bridge and look forward to hearing your response.
Vernon Everitt said at Transport Committee that your journey planner is now advising Londoners to walk or cycle for journeys than can be walked in under 40 minutes. Any journey which requires people to cross the Thames depends on the time taken to reach a crossing, which can decrease the possibility of completing it within 40 minutes on foot or by bike.
When the Mayor responded to my question about crossings in London last year, he acknowledged that the river was already a significant barrier to those walking and cycling in east London. Increased levels of cycling, particularly the 10x increase that TfL is modelling and trying to plan for could strengthen the cost benefit analysis of walking and cycling crossings of the Thames.
Last summer, when the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf bridge was ‘paused’ the Mayor said that TfL would explore options for a fast ferry service to support improved connectivity. The only planned action for improving links across the Thames in your emergency budget is the eventual bus for people to cross with cycles as part of the Silvertown Tunnel project, due to complete in 2025. There has never been any detail on how this bus would work, and it is questionable that it could service demand in London if cycling increases according to TfL’s 10x projections used for the Streetspace programme.
At present there is a lack of capacity for people walking and cycling across the Thames near Greenwich severe enough that you have lifted the restriction on taking cycles on the Docklands Light Railway in peak. In last year’s Pier Action Plan the proposed ferry was described as a test case for assessing the feasibility of providing similar high-quality pedestrian and cycle links. If your plans are now ready for capital investment, they could be the beginning of a series of ferry crossings, along the length of the Thames, enabling much more walking and cycling. Can you update me on the current status of these plans?
Finally, I also picked up at Committee the question of TfL toilet provision. As I understand it TfL has undertaken a review of toilet provision that is yet to be published. I do welcome the short-term actions taken during the lockdown, including provision of hand sanitiser and opening TfL toilets to those driving taxis and private hire vehicles. Washing hands with soap and water is clinically proven to be far more effective at combating coronavirus than using hand sanitiser.
For many Londoners access to a toilet is crucial for them to be able to get out and about. If people are being encouraged to walk or cycle journeys they used to make by public transport, these will take longer meaning more people will need access to a toilet. Can you please look urgently into what more TfL can do to support toilet provision in London, as part of supporting more active travel and public health for workers and the wider population?
Green Party Member of the London Assembly