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First stage of Foot Tunnel bye-law changes agreed

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has agreed to start the process of up-dating the bye-laws that control the use of Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels.

The foot tunnels are jointly owned by Newham and Tower Hamlets Councils and the Royal Borough of Greenwich although they are managed by the Royal Borough.

Bye-laws in the foot tunnels were first introduced in 1902 and last updated 1938 so the current bye-laws have been in place for over 70 years. The bye-laws do not allow cycling in the tunnels. In recent years the Councils have been successful in increasing cycling in this part of London and the Royal Borough believes the bye-laws should be updated to more accurately reflect modern life.

At a Council meeting this week, Royal Greenwich agreed to start the process of amending the bye-laws. The changes would generally improve the way the tunnels are managed but include proposals to provide the Council discretion to allow cycling at certain times. That discretion would only be exercised when cycling is considered safe to all users and advertised by appropriate signage.

As part of its background work to look at how the bye-laws needed to be amended, the Royal Borough has been trialling state-of-the-art monitoring equipment for the past year which could be used if the plan to allow cyclists and pedestrians to use the tunnels at the same time goes ahead.

The bye-law amendments will also include a formal process for managing filming requests for the tunnels - which are popular settings for filmmakers and music videos.

Newham and Tower Hamlets Councils will now consider the same proposals and if agreement is reached, a case will be made to the Secretary of State for final approval.

Councillor Sizwe James, Cabinet Member for Transport, Economy and Smart Cities, said: “The foot tunnels are a brilliant and well-used way for people being able to travel easily, and at no cost, back and forth across the river to get to and from work. They are also a visitor attraction in their own right. The changes proposed will bring the bye-laws into the 21st century and support effective management of the foot tunnels.”