County Hall Towpath 'no cycling' signs

Having commuted each morning along the Southbank for nearly 3 years, I was surprised to return from holiday to see that 'no cycling' signs had been plastered all over the towpath in front of Couny Hall. 

When I cycle through this area before 8am weekdays to drop my child off at nursery, there are very few people. I can understand during the day and evening that this place is rammed and no cycling is important, but in the morning, this stretch of the river is very quiet. 

Is this enforcable? This morning there was a man trying to stop cyclists, the guy in front was stopped and I went past. 

I recall Lambeth switched the signage along River Walk ( and it would seem sensible to have done the same here (otherwise you get to he eastern end of River Walk and have no where to go. 

Any advice gratefully received. 

Many thanks.


You're correct that Lambeth Council banned cycling along an area of the South Bank in late 2010.

After some months of pressure from us and Lambeth Cyclists (our local group), they relented and changed the signs to 'considerate cycling only'

At this stage, we're not sure if it's the landowners or the council which has installed these signs but we're investigating...

Thank you for your response. I look forward to hearing your findings.

It seems daft to have spent so long successfully campaigning for the 'considerate cyclists' signs for a stretch of towpath that when you get to the end of, you have to carry your bike up stairs because you can go no further on your ride.

Thanks again 

I too have been cycling this route for close on 8 years and have recently been stopped by "security" guards to be told that this is now private property and no cycling is allowed. I was pointed to a number of signs. I asked a few questions and it appears to me that this change in attitude is related to possible insurance claims by people on the land.  I was wondering if there is any way of them enforcing such a ban on cyclists? Presumably not without erecting barriers albeit that we are probably trespassing by continuing to cycle in contravention of the notices... 

This is not the only section of the South Bank which is private and restricts access for cyclists. The same can be said for More London by Tower Bridge. Although it would nice to sort out cycle access for these places its not too hard to either walk your bike through these places or take the back road.

  • By Loshu at 3:58pm 13 March 2013

The river front building is was bought by Shirayama Shokusan Company Limited, a Japanese private company in October 1993. The sale price was £60 million ... 
Not sure if they own the freehold, or if they own the walkway?


This is part of a creeping ban regarding cycling on the South Bank and the Riverside. The London Bicycle Tour Company have cycled along the riverside for over 20 years with clients. The security department from County Hall recently wrote to us asking us not to cycle in front of County Hall, as far as I was aware we did not, we pushed our bikes from the London Eye to Westminster Bridge. I do not think, if you are stopped, you will ever get fined or anything like this. It is a private initiative by the landowner, normally wanting their security staff to do something.

There is a lot of vagueness, but the area is a public right of way, probably designated as a footpath. There is a difference between a footpath and a footway, from my understanding a footway is generally alongside a road, normally called a pavement. A footpath is generally a designated right-of-way, across open land for pedestrian use. A bridle path is better, this is for pedestrians, four-legged animals, and un-motorised vehicles. Anyway, most of the River Thames is owned by the landowner right up to the edge of the river, and they can if they so wish ask a cyclist not to cycle on their land. I do not believe there are any bylaws whereby anyone can be taken to court. So it would have to be a private prosecution for something like compensation that would see you in court.

Anyway it looks like there is going to become more and more pressure on this open space, Sustrans kind of lost the argument a long time ago, for cycling on the riverside and implemented NCN4, which is the most fragmented part of the National cycle network in the UK. Hopefully with this new money from Boris they will get their act together with other campaigning organisations and create a quality cycle route along the south side of the river.

note: I have no legal expertise this is just my opinion.

"I do not believe there are any bylaws whereby anyone can be taken to court"

Basically unless you have right of way or the permission of the landowner you're tresspassing. Right of way is easy to determine - look on an OS map. (NOTE: Though these are generally correct they do carry a little disclaimer that they may not be...)

If your intended route is marked as a footpath you have right of way on foot only (although you could legally walk a bike), if it's a bridlepath pedestrians, bikes and horses have right of way and so on for other types of right of way. If you have right of way then generally the landowner would need permission from the local authority to close it (although there are no doubt exceptional circumstances). A landowner could allow you further rights - they could have a cycle path on their land, for instance - if they so desire, and they could revoke those rights.

I *imagine* (IANAL) any prossecution for trespass would be mainly concerned with what you could reasonably think was allowed. I can't imagine you could (generally) claim you reasonably thought cycling was allowed in a pedestrianised area with no signs permitting it. However if, for instance, cycling had been permitted in the past or the signage was unclear (as it so often is) that may be a different matter...

There are also lots of other things that can affect right of way status and tresspassing, such as a history of usage and signage (hence signs on private industrial parks etc. that read "no right of way is granted by usage of this road" and so on).

So far as I can make out there are no rights of way on the South Bank, although there are a liberal spattering of blue cycle logos. I have no idea what those mean...

(IANAL = I am not a lawyer; therefore I wouldn't take any of my advice if I were you ;))

This post was edited by N1 Cyclist at 10:38pm 8 April 2013.

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