South West London is set to get a new bridge across the Thames, dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians. It will link Pimlico on the north side of the Thames with Nine Elms on the south bank. London needs several more cycle/pedestrian bridges across the Thames, particularly in East London, but at least this is a step in the right direction.
In March, Wandsworth Council ran a design competition which attracted 74 entries, and in July the 4 shortlisted entries were revealed: Buro Happold, Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering, and two entries from Ove Arup which feature spiral cycle/walkways at each end of the bridges. Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindi praised the “spectacular designs”.
As a personal trainer in London, I’m pleased to see more being done to get London physically active, but progress needs to be made on a much bigger scale to make a real difference to the health and fitness of Londoners.
The new bridge will cost £40 million. It will enable cyclists and pedestrians to travel both ways at peak times. The 4 designs have all met the challenge of making the bridge high enough for boats to pass under, but without creating too steep an incline for cyclists and pedestrians at either end.
The new bridge will be part of a major urban regeneration of Nine Elms, which will see new homes and new businesses in the area. A fitting name for the new bridge would be Nine Elms Bridge, but no name has yet been chosen.
Westminster Cllr Heather Acton objects to the new bridge on the grounds that it will eat up green space in Pimlico, although she is in favour of a new cycle/pedestrian bridge in principle. She suggests an alternative location: alongside the existing rail bridge linking Battersea with Victoria. I say, why not have both?
The white elephant known as the Garden Bridge (between Temple and the South Bank) would have paid for several cycle/pedestrian bridges in the style of the 4 shortlisted designs for the Pimlico/Nine Elms bridge. And the Garden Bridge doesn’t even allow cyclists to use it, which is ludicrous given its astronomical cost.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and author of the Fitness4London blog.