Arguments against

The design of the double-deck truss is ingenious, in that it allows the crossing to stay open while the bridge itself is repaired. But has enough thought been given to the implications of putting this solution in place? And why it's not a good idea in the first place?


The designers have gone to a lot of trouble to allow cars to use the crossing. But is this a good idea? The fact is that the bridge has been closed to cars for so long that the amount of traffic in the area surrounding the bridge has decreased, as people find other ways to make their journeys across the river.

The temporary structure will, in effect, be a new crossing of the river. As such, it will generate new traffic by the process of "induced demand" - as has been repeatedly shown, if it is made easier to drive, then more people will do so, and before long the bridge, along with the surrounding areas on both sides of it, will be brought to a standstill by traffic again.

Public transport

At the moment, if you catch a bus at the northern end of Castelnau, it will whisk you to Barnes Station in a matter of five minutes or so. Those people with long memories will recall that when the bridge was open, the same journey could take up to half an hour, with buses being blocked by the terrible traffic jams caused by cars. It seems hard to justify the delay being caused by the few (car drivers) for the many (bus passengers).

No relief for neighbouring bridges

Some people in Putney are quite insistent that Hammersmith Bridge should be reopened to cars again, in order to relieve congestion on Putney Bridge.

But anyone who can remember Putney Bridge (and High Street) before April 2019 can see that this is a ridiculous argument. Putney Bridge was hopelessly congested before Hammersmith Bridge was closed to cars - and it would continue to be so even if Hammersmith Bridge is reopened.

I illustrated the point in this tweet:

The pedestrian experience

The designers claim to have done as much as possible to make the experience for people using the lower deck - that is, pedestrians and people pushing their bikes - as pleasant as possible, with measures to reduce noise. But, seriously, how good can it be? The lower deck will be:

  • dark - in the shadow of the top deck
  • noisy - with traffic driving over the top deck only a metre or so above their heads
  • polluted - where do the designers think the exhaust fumes, tyre rubber, brake dust, etc from the cars is going to go?

So the pedestrian experience will be more of an ordeal than anything. And all so that people can drive their cars over the top deck!

No safe space for cycling

The plans for the double-deck truss don't seem to give any safe space for people to cycle in. People with bikes are given a choice: either cycle over the top deck, mixed in with cars, or push their bikes over the lower deck. The plans for the "repaired" bridge also make no mention of bicycles - so one can only assume that we will go back to the very dangerous road layout which actually pushes people riding bicycles into the path of cars, where the road narrows as it passes through the arches.

This is simply not good enough, when the number of journeys made by bicycle is increasing in London.

Air quality

Air quality is currently something of a hot topic, and both LBHF and LBRuT have committed to dealing with the climate emergency. These commitments will look pretty hollow if something is put in place which will increase, rather than decrease, traffic.

No mention of cost

The plans make no mention of the cost of the project. The original budget for the "restoration" of the bridge was in the region of £160m, to be split between LBHF, TfL and Government. This must surely have risen by now to around £200m. Is this money available?


The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham have been given a fantastic opportunity to make a statement in deciding on the future of the bridge. Do they go for an imaginative solution, that allows people to easily cross the river in comfort and safety? Or do they go backwards in providing a way for people who choose to drive cars to dominate the crossing, to the disadvantage of everyone else?

The truss proposal will soon be going to the planning permission stage. We have to hope that it is refused permission, for the reasons stated above, and that a more imaginative solution is sought.

Next: Arguments for the double deck →