New Garden Bridge in London – Do we need it? Should we make the tourists walk?

I have just read that Transport for London (TfL) has just ‘backed’ proposals for a new pedestrian bridge across the River Thames in London, ‘to link Covent Garden to The South Bank’.


My immediate thoughts upon reading this were ‘what is the point; do we really need this?’

What, exactly, is the point of joining two tourist hot spots with a new bridge when there are already two bridges which can be used to get from Covent Garden to the South Bank: Waterloo Bridge; and what used to called Hungerford Bridge but is now called Jubilee Bridge I think since the new bridges (2 of them) near Charing Cross were funded by The Millennium Commission.

What is the point of proving a more direct, as the crow-flys, route between two tourist hot spots?

Tourists having to walk up or down The Strand a bit, in order to get to the current bridges, isn’t stopping them going to either of these places, and surely it is good for other bits of London to spread the tourist spending around by getting people past other businesses, and seeing other things other than the two tourist anchors which are increasingly only catering for tourists – let them (indeed make them) see bits of working London and Londoners.

To me, a direct route to connect in a straight line two tourist anchors is lazy thinking and, like too much official ‘action’, is one dimensional and silo thinking. Has the economic development arm of The Mayor of London, or The GLA, been involved in the declaration of support? Why is TfL only thinking in terms of movement and not the wider economic benefits of spreading tourists around?

So, as you might have guessed, I do not support this new bridge. It isn’t needed, it concentrates economic activity rather than spreads it around; it increases the corralling of tourists, and doesn’t let them find other bits of London for themselves. Hopefully it is just a bit of PR puff.

And don’t let us be fooled by the statement that it will only happen if it is privately funded: we were told the same about the underused Cable Car crossing at the Royal Docks and in the end some public money went into that despite it having the name of a private company.

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