A new pedestrian bridge is to be built across one of the Canary Wharf docks to relieve congestion on the existing South Dock Footbridge (also, if very infrequently, known as the Wilkinson Eyre Bridge).

Bridge in open state (c) Tower Hamlets council / Knight Architects

The second bridge is needed to relieve congestion on the existing narrow bridge which has got worse in recent years thanks to an awful lot of new housing going up on the Isle of Dogs to the south of Canary Wharf’s main office estate. So busy is the area now that the existing footbridge is the second busiest pedestrian-only bridge in London, only just surpassed by the Golden Jubilee footbridge in central London.

The council predicts that demand for crossing the South Dock could potentially increase from 37,000 in 2018 to 85,000 people by 2031, and the current busy footbridge would never cope, hence the need for a second bridge.

A previous plan for a second bridge would have been for both pedestrians and cyclists, but that was dropped following concerns in previous public consultations about conflicts between users and safety – so this is for pedestrians only, although cyclists will be able to walk bikes across, and there will however be improved cycle routes to the bridge to make it easier to find. However, during the planning committee meeting at Tower Hamlets council last week, a lot of discussions emerged about how cyclists will be persuaded to walk over the bridge rather than ignoring the signs and cycling across.

As a new bridge, it’ll need to be able to be opened for boats to pass through, so will be made up of two 35-metre spans, with one able to hinge upwards when needed.

The design is not just aesthetic though, it’s been deliberately given a low cross-section profile to handle the east-west crosswinds that come in across the docks.

Bridge in closed state (c) Tower Hamlets council / Knight Architects

The planning application was approved by Tower Hamlets council last week, subject to conditions and ongoing review of the cycling issues.

It’s due to open to pedestrians in 2024.


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  1. ben says:

    I’ve been on many mixed pedestrian/cyclist bridges and they handle the traffic just fine, both parties are happy. I will cycle on it out of spite. Corrupt clown council.

    • JP says:

      Safe to expect nothing less from a fan of Ian Visits and a responsible cyclist you may be, but we all know to our cost that selfish cyclists are far too numerous.

      These bad apples in a perpetual rush to climb the career ladder as couriers, say, cost all of us in too many ways: from the stupidity and injuries of pedestrian/cyclist collisions down to the expense of speed calming measures. Even a simple set of barrier rails isn’t cheap.

      Your “stuff the rules” attitude may well be borne of frustration at how you see two-wheelers singled out for extra censure but it’s a couple of rungs up that ladder of “stuff you lot.”

      I’m sure you wouldn’t burn past old dears on the bridge at top whack but simply riding past is enough to cause shock.
      It’s the speed difference that being required to walk your steed across negates. You couldn’t stop in time if a pedestrian ahead suddenly stopped or veered sharp left to look over the parapet if you were riding. At walking speed we all can.
      If sensible cyclists are similarly selective of regs as are you, the arrival of road tax and licensing creeps ever closer as a result.

    • ChrisC says:

      I bet you also ride on the pavement, jump red lights, ignore pedestrian crossings as well as veer in and out of traffic and try to pass traffic on the inside.

  2. NG says:

    You do realise that you have just answered Q 11 of “London Reconnections” Christmas Quiz, don’t you?

  3. alistair twin says:

    Calling it the “Wilkinson Eyre bridge” would be a bit odd because the practice was called Chris Wilkinson Architects when it was built (and for a few years afterwards. though stranger things have happened

  4. JP says:

    Chris C:

    I wonder what prompted that? In response, I give you
    dictum meum pactum
    and I don’t have a bike anyway!

    • ChrisC says:

      My response was quite clearly addressed to Ben.

      You can only reply to main posts not replies to posts on here.

  5. CityLover says:

    The time taken for this…2024!! I remember going to the consultation 5 or 6 years ago!

    It also requires a further footbridge further east between the new Wood Wharf development and the new buildings coming up on Marsh Wall to the south

  6. Stu Pickett says:

    Bit of a brainless argument to say ‘we’re only going to allow pedestrians as allowing bikes will cause conflict (or safety issues’.

    By this logic, you’d never allow cars on any new roads you built as you’d be bringing them into conflict with/creating safety issues with cyclists…

    I’ll certainly ride over this new bridge (when it’s safe to do so). Punishing decent cyclists is not the way to counteract the ‘bad apples’ – building better infrastructure (which this won’t be) is.

    And to pre-empt the usual yawn inducing responses: I never ride on (non-shared) pavements, always stop at red lights (or pedestrian crossings when people approach), never undertake motor vehicles on the approach to left turns/roundabouts and have a full set of UK law compliant lights, reflectors and brakes on my bike. Also, I have a car and pay Vehicle Excise Duty.

  7. OR says:

    As an idividual who uses the exisitng footbridge on a daily basis, I see plenty of food delivery bikes speeding across the bridge without a care in the world! The ocassional biker will ring the bike bell to warn pedestrians ahead of them. Perhaps the ‘clown council’ should allow bikes on pavements and tell pedestrians to use the roads! Better still, put up signs to stipulate ‘sensible riders are permitted to ride across’.

  8. JP says:

    Chris C: Oh arr, silly me!
    Good to be befuddled now and again though. Proves that we’re human after all.

  9. Dave says:

    This planning decision should be challenged if possible.

    It’s really not hard to design a bridge to have both a safe pavement and 2 safe and segregated cycle lanes on it and to be cheap to build. Plenty of examples across Europe that could be almost copy pasted on to this site.

    There is no reason to have to choose between these options on this site. It’s a rectangular dock, flat either side. It’s not a difficult bridge.

    Poor infrastructure lasts a very long time.

    • ianVisits says:

      If you have a risk assessment that is at variance with the documents presented to the council over the past few years of public consultations, then you could seek a judicial review, but you will need to be absolutely sure your risk assessment is watertight in its claims otherwise it’ll be a very expensive fight.

    • ChrisC says:

      All a Judicial Review would examine is did the council follow the law and its policies and procedures in determining the application.

      That’s a pretty high bar to achieve because not every error is a cause of deficiencies in the process.

      And if you were successful it would only require the council to re run the planing process again to remedy the deficiency and in all likelihood would come to the same conclusion.

  10. Andy T says:

    The cyclists that plan to ignore the fact it is pedestrian only, I do wonder how many of them are also cyclists that lose their mind when someone inadvertently walks briefly into a cycle lane, something very easily done at night if you’re unfamiliar with London and some of the more recent layouts.

  11. Veronica Huggins says:

    Many cyclists claim to be “sensible” and that they would not endanger pedestrians, but how do pedestrians know this? If cyclists in the Greenwich foot tunnel, for instance, come up behind me and overtake in small gaps at full speed how can I determine whether they are “sensible”, or reckless risk-takers who would happily mow me down while swearing at me for the sake of getting to work a few minutes faster? The fact that a cyclist is already arrogant enough to ignore the prohibition notices indicates that I have to assume the latter, and having been constantly intimidated over many years I now take the DLR for one stop to avoid the tunnel altogether. There is even less excuse for cycling over the Canary Wharf bridge as it would only take two minutes to walk.

  12. steve doole says:

    Two sets of small steps, not necessarily at the bridge ends, will deter cyclists, although some couriers on modern bikes will likely jump them, and steps are not great for buggies.

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