Thames Path to Get Safety Patrols Over Winter Months

Richmond Council boosting security during Hammersmith Bridge closure

New patrols will cycle up and down the River Thames towpath from next week as part of new safety measures being brought in by Richmond Council to keep residents safe following the closure of Hammersmith Bridge to pedestrians and cyclists this summer.

With the clocks going back this weekend, and the days getting shorter, many residents have expressed concerns about walking along the towpaths in the dark.

The council today confirmed it will put in place four Parkguard marshals on bikes from Monday (26 October) to provide reassurance.

They will patrol the towpath between Hammersmith Bridge and Beverley Brook (the Putney boundary of Richmond upon Thames borough) from 3-7pm 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.

The council says the safest option for the route between Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge is to encourage residents to use surrounding well-lit streets and it will continue to review 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.

Councillor Alexander Ehmann, chair of the Transport and Air Quality Committee, said the complete closure of the bridge has “posed a serious challenge” to those who use it to get to work or school.

“As we fast approach winter and the clocks going back, parents were understandably concerned about safety of their children and it has been a key priority for this council to take action and provide a level of reassurance along this route while the bridge remains closed,” he said.

“The Parkguard presence is a significant boost to security. We listened to many suggestions including for security lighting along the towpath, but due to the significant ecological and planning constraints, as well as the considerable time and cost of installation, we are glad we can offer this quick solution.

“Parkguard already do a brilliant job of patrolling our parks around the borough and I am confident their familiar presence be valued by those using the towpath.”

“We have taken much-needed action and crucially, put this council’s money where its mouth is. Once again we urge the government and other authorities to show similar resolve when it comes to the wider issues of connectivity and repair to Hammersmith Bridge.”

Parkguard marshals will remain in place until either Hammersmith Bridge reopens to pedestrians and cyclists, or until the start of British Summer Time in Spring 2021, whichever is soonest.

Funding for works will be ratified at the Council’s Transport and Air Quality Committee meeting on Thursday November 5, 2020.

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

October 20, 2020