Hammersmith Bridge is reopening to cyclists — although only for 10 weeks.
The 137-year-old crossing which bridges Hammersmith and Barnes was closed to motor vehicles in April 2019 due to structural instability, and subsequently closed completely in August 2020. Since then, pedestrians and cyclists have been allowed back on the bridge while it undergoes £250 million of repairs, but cyclists are required to dismount and push — rather frustrating.
Now, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which is responsible for the bridge, has announced it's opening a new two-way, three-metre-wide central cycle lane on the bridge from Tuesday 13 February, which is "likely to remain open for around 10 weeks". The fact cyclists will be back on the road also frees up space on the bridge's pavements for pedestrians.
Why just have the cycle lane for 10 weeks though? The answer to this has something to do with a bunch of West Ham fans. Stabilisation works on the Grade II* listed bridge, says the council, had to be suspended since a boat carrying West Ham fans to Fulham FC's Craven Cottage ground last December severed the 130-metre-long steel gantry running under the bridge. The gantry is now being repaired, and until fixed, no more works can be undertaken on the bridge. Therefore the council has decided to make the most of the lull by opening the cycle lane for the time being. So.... come on you Hammers?
Hammersmith Bridge — one of the world's oldest suspension bridges — has been a source of much contention since it closed in 2019. Though full responsibility for the bridge lies with Hammersmith and Fulham Council, it blames the Department for Transport for the fact the bridge remains largely closed five years later, saying: "Unfortunately, the Department for Transport (DfT) has delayed consideration of H&F's business case for the full restoration of the bridge, which would allow full use by motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians."