The (estimated) £175m Garden bridge over the Thames, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, has finally been given clearance, but it has been confirmed that cycling will be banned on the crossing – they will be allowed to walk their bike across. The planning application was approved by the Westminster Council in a meeting of Planning Application Committee on the 2nd of December. Councilors at the meeting voted in favour of the bridge.
This bridge stretching between Temple and the Southbank will cost £3.5m in annual maintenance. It will be open to the public from 6 am to midnight, and a twenty-four hour security will be there in the first year of its opening. The Garden Bridge trust is believed to have raised £120m which will be used as running costs of the bridge, while transport for London has agreed to pay £30m towards it as well, an amount of cash that will be matched by the Treasury (the UK is thought to be stumping up around £60m in the total).
The banning of cyclists from riding across the bridge was confirmed in the planning document by the Westminster Council, which reads: “The Garden Bridge will prohibit cycling on the bridge deck, although cyclists can dismount and push their bicycle across the bridge on foot.”
“The justification given for not allowing cycling on the bridge is accepted. the bridge would have to be redesigned with segregated cycle paths which would reduce the value of the bridge as a green open space.”
Designers are advised to rethink the 38 cycle parking spaces, by the council. They believe that the spaces would not be enough with the Victoria Embankment due to form part of the east-west cycle superhighway.
The bridge has come under some more general criticisms, and suggestions that it is a privately-managed garden rather than a public right-of-way and park, as groups of more than eight will not be allowed on it, and it will be closed at night. These restrictions of access have led some towards the idea that the bridge will have to be ticketed and guarded by some form of security practice.