Dozens of families have been left concerned by cyclists allegedly shouting and blowing whistles at them to move out of the way as they walk through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

In one instance, families and children were assaulted by a cyclist speeding through the tunnel, according to Councillor Peter Golds, whose ward is Island Gardens in Tower Hamlets.

Cycling through the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels is not permitted and cyclists are supposed to walk through the tunnel along with their bikes.

However, Cllr Golds said the issue has become a “major problem” and is becoming increasingly dangerous for families.

During a Tower Hamlets full council meeting on Wednesday evening (January 18), Cllr Golds raised the problem as part of his motion for the council to undertake a “rigorous” health and safety assessment before approving any changes to the bylaws relating to cycling in the foot tunnel.

Cllr Golds told the council: “The Greenwich Foot Tunnel is a major issue and major problem.

"The issue here is the growth of illegal cycling in the foot tunnel which is increasingly dangerous.

“We constantly get issues of parents and children and families having to go through the foot tunnel and suddenly find people coming towards them, shooting through at speed on bicycles frequently blowing whistles and expect people to get out of the way.”

He continued: “Well why should people on foot in a foot tunnel [do so] when there is a provision to say, ‘there is no cycling, get out of the way’.

“The concerns are enormous – I believe residents locally on both sides of the tunnel would ask the mayor to consult with Greenwich Council.”

If cyclists are caught riding their bikes through the tunnels they are fined £1 because of laws which were implemented over 100 years ago. 

Cllr Golds told the council it’s hardly worth stopping and fining anybody such a small amount and that there have been “attempts” to renew the bylaw but the responsibility ultimately lies with Greenwich Council, which manages both Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels on behalf of both Tower Hamlets and Newham.

Cllr Golds also said there should be adequate provisions for the lifts, which are frequently out of order and wants the council to maintain the safety of the pedestrians of the tunnel.

In response to Cllr Golds’ motion, Cllr Nathalie Bienfait said: “I feel this motion gives unhelpful airtime to the false narrative that cyclists are fundamentally irresponsible and lawless.

“There is no safe north-south route for cyclists or pedestrians east of Tower Bridge. The Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels are used daily by hundreds of commuters who are for the most part respectable of the safety of pedestrians.”

She added: “The protection of a quick and convenient route is something I  would like to support.”

Cllr Bienfait concluded her remarks by saying the Silvertown Tunnel is going to be “generally” an alternative route for cyclists.

Tower Hamlets councillors voted on the motion and it was ultimately passed. 

Following the meeting, the council was contacted for more information about what will happen next.