Council to bring in Parkguard to patrol towpath during Hammersmith Bridge closure

Richmond Council has announced safety measures that will help travellers from Hammersmith Bridge to Putney and Barnes Bridges, following the closure of Hammersmith Bridge to pedestrians and cyclists.

A lot of people are using Barnes Bridge (for walkers and bicyclists only) or Putney Bridge since Hammersmith Bridge was closed to everyone in August.

Many, especially parents of children travelling to school, have expressed concerns that as the days get shorter, it could be hazardous to use the towpath to travel to either Barnes Bridge or Putney Bridge.

It's certainly true that the towpath is very uneven in places, and there is no lighting to speak of.

From the LBRuT website:

Measures include:

- Parkguard patrols on Hammersmith to Putney Thames towpath
- Surface upgrades to towpath on Putney and Barnes sides of the bridge
- Wayfinding lighting

The Council will put in place four Parkguard marshals on bikes from Monday 26 October. They will patrol the towpath between Hammersmith Bridge and Beverley Brook (the Putney boundary of Richmond upon Thames borough) from 3 to 7pm on weekdays. Marshals on the Thames towpath will be DBS checked and able to administer first aid. They will be recognisable by high-visibility clothing, which will carry Richmond Council and Parkguard branding.

Following discussions with residents and local groups, the Council has agreed that the safest option for the route between Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge, is to encourage residents to use surrounding well-lit streets. The Council will continue to review this and consider any further enhancements to the road network.

Remedial works are planned to improve the gravel surface of the towpath for pedestrians and cyclists. The Council also intends to trial ground-level LED lighting to improve wayfinding along the towpath at the points where the path is closest to the riverbank.

See full details on the LBRuT website

The safety measures really concentrate on the Hammersmith - Putney route along the towpath, where security guards will be deployed and wayfinding lighting put in place. They will also "upgrade the surface", though there are no details about how thorough this work will be. LBRuT have confirmed that the surface will be upgraded in both directions, towards Putney and Barnes bridges.

For people making the journey to Barnes Bridge, the suggestion is that "the safest option for the route between Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge is to encourage residents to use surrounding well-lit streets".

I suppose this really means that they are expected to use Lonsdale Road - a horrible road to cycle on at the best of times, with its joke cycle lane full of parked cars. At least the traffic is lighter than it used to be, now that the bridge is closed.

Or maybe cyclists might choose to use the wand-protected cycle lane along Castelnau. It's not a great cycle lane (though better than Lonsdale Road), and of course ends abruptly when you reach the Red Lion. After that, you're plunged in amongst the cars along Church Road and the High Street, clogged as it is with Range Rovers being driven a quarter of a mile to Marks and Spencer.

LBRuT may be showing off the measures they've taken, but it's not all that impressive really. If they spent a bit of effort and money creating a safe cycle route from Hammersmith Bridge to Barnes Bridge, it would be a huge leap forward and would remain a useful asset even after the bridge is repaired.

Posted on 20th October 2020

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