When it opens, cyclists wont be allowed to use the new Silvertown Tunnel but could be offered a specially adapted shuttle bus to carry their bikes through the tunnel.

One of two early concepts (c) TfL

At the moment, there isn’t a convenient cyclist route across the Thames in the North Greenwich area, other than folding bikes on the Jubilee line or the cable car, or via the Greenwich foot tunnel. The existing Blackwall tunnel doesn’t allow cyclists to use the road, and neither will the Silvertown tunnel being built next to it.

Transport for London (TfL) has now opened an eight-week consultation on a proposal that could see an adapted bus carrying bikes through the tunnel instead.

Based on work to date, TfL says that its preferred and safest option is a new bespoke bus shuttle service for cyclists. The consultation includes indicative proposals for drop off and pick-up locations for the service, integrating with the existing cycle infrastructure north and south of the river.

The shuttle bus could operate as a ‘timetabled’ service starting with six buses per hour, with the possibility to grow the service in future in response to demand. Feedback from the consultation will inform the final frequency, stop locations and route for the service to operate.

The consultation has also not confirmed yet if people will need to pay to use the bike-bus shuttle service, or if it will be free of charge.

For the cycle-bus vehicle, there are two main options under consideration – a vehicle that allows cyclists and bikes on board, possibly with internal racks or storage areas, or a vehicle with a bicycle trailer fitted to the back. As the vehicles themselves have not been specified yet, their nature and design will be informed by feedback from the consultation alongside discussions with potential suppliers on the detailed options.

One of two early concepts (c) TfL

The proposed bike-bus stops would be near the Blackwall DLR station on the north side, and close to the Odeon/IKEA on the south side.

This won’t be the first time a bus-bike has been used to cross the Thames, as there used to be a similar service in the Dartford Tunnel in the 1960s using a specially modified double-decker bus. Although it only lasted two years, and these days you have to request a lift across from their transfer service.

The consultation is here.

TfL is also asking respondents whether they would use a future new ferry service in the area. Such a service is currently unaffordable, but TfL says that it is keeping this option under review in case the necessary investment for piers, boats and supporting infrastructure become available as part of local redevelopment.

It’s worth noting that there used to be a ferry across the Thames at this location, linking the Millenium Dome with East India on the north side, however, the river pier on the north side was removed in 2015. The last time I checked, in 2021, there was still a sign there advertising the service as a Jubilee line replacement ferry service.


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  1. Keith says:

    I suppose it slightly raises the question as to why a cycle-footpath tunnel wasn’t built alongside the new Silvertown road tunnels.

    • ianVisits says:

      That’s answered in the consultation FAQs.

    • Guy Benson says:

      I’ve responded to the consultation raising the issue of the location of the northern stop.

      I think it would be far more convenient to have the northern stop within or closer to the Canary Wharf estate itself (perhaps with the intermediary stop at Blackwall DLR as suggested) given I imagine a large proportion of users will be heading to the Canary Wharf estate.

  2. Dan Coleman says:

    Having recently visited Rotterdam and the beautiful Maastunnel, it makes a bike bus seem rather silly. I can totally understand the questions of why it wasn’t just built with a pedestrian deck in the first place.

    A new ferry would be good though. There should plenty more ferries in London anyway.

  3. City Lover says:

    Yeah but the ferry is not affordable, just like the Rotherhithe – CW bridge was not affordable or the consolation prize turn up and go ferry which has magically disappeared so what makes you think the ferry will happen. What a joke,the excuse that it is too expensive to build is too easily used (particularly for Thames crossings). Britain should be prioritising infrastructure rather than relying on what was by chance built historically – think of all the unbuilt infra we could be “relying” on now it it had been built.Same applies now, we should build because we can’t rely forever on existing infra which is crumbling, e.g. Hammersmith bridge, Rotherhithe Tunnel almost certain to close..60s flyovers etc


  4. Wattson says:

    The Woolwich foot tunnel hasn’t had working lifts for over a year and Greenwich lifts are usually broken for months on end. Yet there is hundreds of millions to throw at a road scheme! Puts the mayor’s priorities in perspective.

    • ianVisits says:

      a) The foot tunnels aren’t under the control of the Mayor, so the Mayor can’t fund their repair.

      b) The road tunnel is being paid for privately with tolls to pay the costs, so the Mayor isn’t funding it either.

  5. Ben Eskola says:

    If you want to pay to take a bike across the river east of Tower Hill, there are already ways to do so — the DLR or the Overground, for example, or the dangleway which is at almost precisely the same location as the tunnel. So a paid-for bus service doesn’t seem like it would be particularly competitive.

    For that matter, there are free crossings too — the foot tunnels or the Woolwich Ferry or even the Rotherhithe tunnel if you have a death wish. None of them are ideal, of course, but then having to wait ten minutes for a bike bus to cross isn’t ideal either.

    I could certainly imagine using a bike bus if there was literally no other crossing, but the problem isn’t that there are *no* crossings, only that the crossings are less than ideal. Creating another crossing that’s differently flawed seems underwhelming in that context.

    The real issue seems to be that despite having spent huge amounts of money on designing and planning this thing, TfL is only now realising that there should be some provision made for cyclists and pedestrians. If this had been done at an earlier stage, a solution that’s actually good might have been found, but this seems to have only come in response to criticism and to be making the best of what they’ve already built.

    • ianVisits says:

      I wouldn’t say that cycling to Rotherhithe is a suitable option for crossing the river if you’re at North Greenwich.

    • Ben Eskola says:

      Ian: maybe, maybe not. If you’re in Greenwich and heading for Canning Town with your bike then a crossing at North Greenwich is about the only option. But if you’re travelling east-west, for example, then a crossing anywhere along the river might be all you need. Even if you’re travelling north-south from further out, for that matter, say Lewisham-Stratford, I’m not sure that North Greenwich would automatically be the most practical route, particularly considering the terrible roads you’d have to use (the current cycle routes don’t connect to the proposed stop and I’ve not yet seen any proposal to alter that).

      (Obviously the Rotherhithe tunnel is a particularly awful example. But the same applies to the DLR, Overground, Woolwich Ferry, etc.)

  6. David Winter says:

    AIUI, the Dartford service was underwhelmed by demand. Does anyone expect a different outcome here?

    • Nathan H says:

      This does rather fly in the face of the promotion of “active travel” as a more convenient, healthy, and greener method of transport. Having to wait 10 minutes for a bus to cross the river (and being at the whim of having the service cancelled all together) does put walking and cycling at a significant disadvantage to private motor vehicles if one is considering a journey which requires crossing the Thames east of Tower Bridge. One would assume that the provided buses will also only work for standard cycles (just as our out-dated rail system does) as opposed to cargo bikes, trikes, tandems, handcycles etc.

      Provision for cycling through the Greenwich and Woolwich tunnels (plus working lifts) would help in this regard, but as noted earlier in the thread this isn’t under the mayor’s control. Though I haven’t seen any lobbying from City Hall to encourage the local authorities to offset the lack of provision under the new crossing either.

    • ianVisits says:

      Never assume when there’s a consultation document you can read to dispel your assumption.

  7. Nicholas Bennett says:

    One of the five Dartford cycle buses is in the process of restoration

  8. A Trainspotter From Berkshire says:

    Why not have a tramway instead of a bus since trams are 3x times more energy efficient than buses are?

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