South Bank cycling


Can you tell me if cycling is permitted along the South Bank outside City Hall? I ask as it is my understanding that it is, however I was stopped earlier today by a man in a blue fleece and carrying a walkie-talkie who instructed me that I should walk as cycling was forbidden.

It had been against the law to cycle on this stretch of the South Bank "from day one" he said. I don't know who this man was, but my impression was he was a secuirty guard either in City Hall or one of the neighbouring buildings.

I phoned TfL and was told that there are no restrictions on cycling in this area, but to be honest, the guy on the phone didn't sound too sure.

Is he correct?

Many thanks


  • By paul at 9:50am 7 May 2012

Sorry no specific answer but just wondering how we ended up with such an unclear mess all along the South Bank. Recently in Seville where there is a clearly marked cycle track all along the riverside. (And Spain is not the place you think of for everyday cycling)

As far as I know it is, the question is best posed to lambeth Cyclists. I cycle there but I find it eeasier to go round the other side due to the amount of pedestrians. Lambeth have removed cycling restrictions along the south bank.

An nice unbroken trail either side along the mighty Thames would be visionary. I've noted one or two obscure dismount signs tucked away here and there, but generally, it's way too crowded with punters to be able to cycle – I usally take my chances in side and back streets close to/along the South Bank, but watchout for those black cabs and Addison Lee.

I think it is not legal to cycle there: there isn't a single, sign-posted, mixed use pavement anywhere that I've seen that leads to that stretch of the Southbank anywhere between Greyfriars Bridge and Tower Bridge. There are, however, a few "no cycling" signs dotted around. But the same is true of almost the entire stretch through Battersea and Wandsworth: most cyclists seem to ignore this, settle for cycling considerately when pedestrians are around, and it seems to work fine.
I should have mentioned, one way to tell is to look at an OS Map, such as their OS "getamap" website. Designated cycle paths, mixed use paths, and bridleways (all legal for cycling) are marked differently to footpaths. It's not the definitive legal map (these are held by the local councils), but every single time I've checked them, they've been accurate. Similarly, the crowd-sourced shows only footpaths for the whole length of the South Bank from Bermondsey to the start of Wandsworth Park (except for a few hundred metres near St Thomas's Hospital). Of course, that's daft because there's huge lengths of it with plenty of room to share the pathway. Oh well...

Only just seen this post. Philip Loy here from Lambeth Cyclists. The problem with the whole of the South Bank is that ownership of the land varies. Some of it is privately owned, some of it owned by the council, so it is not easy to designate a cycling route as if it were a public highway. The area by GLA City Hall is actually in Southwark, but the land is privately owned by More London. The restrictions on cycling in privately owned space is a bit of an issue, but I suspect the security person may certainly be enforcing company policy, but the interesting question is whether this can be legally challenged. When he says 'Day 1', he means day 1 when the development was built a few years ago. But actually people have been cycling along that riverside for many years before the land was bought. Does this give the same rights of access as the countryside where similar challenges have been made? I suspect there is a case to be made. It requires a campaign and a legal challenge I'm afraid. On the Lambeth side (west of the Oxo building), considerate cycling where pedestrains have priority has been permitted which I think is sensible. But this is council land.

See also Charlie Holland's bog:

(scroll down)


This post was edited by philiploy at 4:58pm 20 June 2012.

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