Updated: Apr 15, 2020
Following years of mounting excitement in South-East London about plans to build a pedestrian and cycle bridge directly linking the Rotherhithe peninsula to Canary Wharf and the Docklands, City Hall announced this summer that the plans had been dropped, at least temporarily, due to escalating cost projections.
While this unpopular decision has been met with disappointment and public scrutiny, residents on both sides of the River can rest assured that options for more efficient transport links between the neighbouring communities are still in the works as priority.
The leading short-to-medium-term option currently on the table is a dedicated ferry service between the two locations. The Rotherhithe ferry project would entail the engineering of two new piers. The proposed locations are currently Nelson Dock Pier on the Canada Water/Rotherhithe side, and Westferry Circus on the Canary Wharf side.
The project would commission three new state-of-the-art, zero-emission electric vessels. They would be the first self-docking, mooring, and charging ferries in London, giving them a turnaround time of only two minutes. Notably, the zero-emission design would also make it the most environmentally friendly ferry trip in the city.
The ferries would be able to carry up to 150 people at a time, and the capacity would allow for up to 50% of those passengers to be carrying bicycles. That constitutes a movement of 2,250 people per hour, per direction.
The project is still in early days, and there is not yet an official quote for how much each journey would cost passengers. Expectations are that it will be much more affordable, and offer a more comfortable and reliable service than the existing ferry that runs from the Doubletree by Hilton to Westferry Circus.
While not nearly as aesthetically interesting as a new bridge, and arguably less impactful for a smooth journey from bank-to-bank, the ferry service would certainly make it easier to traverse the River by foot or bicycle.
TFL’s official stance on the matter is that a bridge is still the preferred option, and long term, those involved in the Rotherhithe Bridge project are holding out hope that the idea will get reinvigorated somewhere down the line.
The campaign remains strong and widely supported. Either way, thousands of residents are looking forward to some form of additional route and an easier commute in the near future.
This proposal forms part of the Mayor of London’s wider package of river crossings and new walking and cycling infrastructure in east London.
Read more about the overall project in our Blog: Cycle Superhighway Coming to Southeast London
We’ll continue to keep you updated as we learn of new developments!
Alex Smith & Matteo Donna