Humber Bridge: 'open all hours' - unless you're on a bike

Cyclists trying to use the Humber Bridge for commuting still face obstacles despite the Board's promises. Photo: Chris Bird
Humber Bridge
Humber Bridge
Rob Kingston's picture

Humber Bridge: 'open all hours' - unless you're on a bike

As Cycling UK waits for a response to its unanswered questions over the Humber Bridge closure, cyclists have found that the bridge Board's claims of granting access for commuters don't stand up to scrutiny

Update: Tuesday 27 April. Since this article was written, the Humber Bridge Board has replied to Cycling UK, stating that it will provide the information requested as soon as possible.

The closure of the Humber Bridge footways to pedestrians and cyclists is continuing to have a serious impact on those seeking to use the bridge for essential journeys, despite assurances from the Humber Bridge Board that measures have been put in place to allow commuters to cross.

Following a meeting with the Board last week, Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle, posted on Facebook:

“[Board officials] have implemented a plan for cyclist commuters. If you want to cross the bridge on cycle for work then email mail@humberbridge.co.uk with your information, then let the security guard know who you are and they will let you pass. If you want to cross for work by foot then email them to register too.” 

However, these arrangements still do not appear to be publicised on the Humber Bridge website, and those who have tried to take advantage of them have found it far from straightforward. 

One Cycling UK member, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted us after trying unsuccessfully to arrange permission to cross. She lives on the north side of the bridge, and she and her husband needed to cross in order to work volunteer shifts for the Samaritans. When she emailed the bridge Board, she received a reply stating, in part: 

“Currently, we are prioritising commuter cyclists that have no other means of transportation to complete their employment.  

To enable your crossing, please ensure that you: 

  • Arrive at the access point on the footpath 
  • Provide a form of ID to confirm your identity (Passport, Driving Licence, Birth Certificate) 
  • Provide evidence that confirms your employment (Work pass, letter of employment) 

You will then be processed by security staff and allowed to cross the bridge.  

For clarity, we are only offering this to members of the public that have no other means of transportation. If you can travel using other transportation – we encourage you to do so. We are not currently offering to support cyclists that cross for leisure or pedestrians at the moment.”

The member contacted the Board and explained that she wanted to travel in order to volunteer, rather than to travel to a place of employment, but was unable to obtain permission in time for her next shift, which she had to cancel. In the end she and her husband had to borrow a car and pay for fuel and tolls in order to cross the bridge – all in order to help a mental-health charity. (Update 27 April: Following further communication with the Board, they have been able to cross the bridge by bike.)

At the time of writing, Cycling UK has not received any reply to its letter, sent last week, asking for responses to its unanswered questions about the closure by yesterday, Thursday 22 April. Cycling UK has this week written to the four highway authorities that neighbour the bridge, to ask whether they support the closure, which the Board claimed it was entitled to do using emergency powers, and to further ask what representations they have made or intend to make to the Board. 

This closure – which has now been in place for 20 days and counting – is the first time in almost 200 years that walkers and cyclists have been unable to cross the Humber

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns, Cycling UK

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, commented: “The Humber Bridge is a vital transport link, the closure of which necessitates a 60-mile detour. The bridge Board’s head of infrastructure has been quoted in the past boasting of its ‘commitment to minimise disruption to the road user and maintain commuter traffic at all times if possible’. When it opened, the bridge replaced regular ferries that had operated since 1826, so this closure – which has now been in place for 20 days and counting – is the first time in almost 200 years that walkers and cyclists have been unable to cross the Humber. 

"It’s clear that despite the assurances provided to Emma Hardy MP, there is still no simple and well-advertised method in place for commuters to arrange a crossing, and none at all for pedestrians or leisure cyclists. Cycling UK will continue to press the Board to take action and fulfil its duty to keep all traffic, and not just motor traffic, moving.” 

The Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day on 116123 or via samaritans.org

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