Why do Canal & River Trust, Canary Wharf Group and Tower Hamlets Council treat disabled people with such contempt?

The Thames Path at Canary Wharf has been closed for some weeks. A bridge over a lock is in need of urgent repairs, and the Canal & River Trust (responsible of all the inland water on the Isle of Dogs) has locked the gate, put up a sign and … problem solved.

They have not bothered to ask themselves: “If we close this gate, what will people walking and cycling (this is NCN Route 1) do? Is the diversion accessible to people on wheel chairs?” You can see from their sheet that no diversion route is shown.

Here is the diversion: the red line is the natural path one would take if no directions are given; the green line shows the longer, safer, accessible route. Without signs, no one would know it existed.

Let’s see what happens in both directions.

Going North, one meets the sign at A and would naturally follow the red line to B. There the pavement stops.

The first two lanes of the road go down an underground roundabout, a no-go area for pedestrians. The third lane goes up a slipway. One thus has to cross two lanes of fast traffic, with no zebra…

… only to find the slipway has the tiniest of pavements. Imagine you are on a wheel chair or have a push chair with a baby.

If you are walking from the North, you encounter the same issues, with the added insult that there is no warning sign at C that the path is closed.

The NCN signs tells you to go straight, and a big red sign in the middle of the path is just for advertising.

So one ends walking/cycling to D, only to find the path closed, and has to return to C, cursing the sheer incompetence of the idiots in charge.

The three authorities will probably say “Nothing to do with us”. And that is the crux of the matter: they are checkbox tickers, rather than human beings with concern for people with disabilities.

UPDATE 1 OCT – We have received the following from Canary Wharf Group:

Thanks for your feedback regarding the bridge works and accessibility issues. The bridge and signage is the responsibility of Canal & River Trust and the bridge itself is outside of the Canary Wharf estate boundary however, I flagged this with our estate management team when I saw your tweets and they have been to assess and as a result, we will have signage made up to post an alternative route including a safely accessible route. We have also reached out to Canal & River Trust to ask them about the repairs and schedule of works. I hope this eases some of your frustrations.

UPDATE 5 OCT – From the Reclaim Our River Campaign

UPDATE 15th October: Canary Wharf Group has placed a diversion sign on the North side of the bridge (Point C in the map above); however they refuse to put one on the South side, because “it is not their land”


UPDATE 25th October: Canal and River Trust has written to us. Effectively, these idiots don’t have a budget for emergency repairs, so they wil do nothing until next financial year, April 2023.

I can confirm that our contractors attended site on the 18/10/22 to scope out the requirements for the first stage of the works. We will start the planning stage over the coming month. A financial provision has been made in our budget for 2023/24 to allow the replacement to take place in April/May 2023. 

Additional signage is being arranged to divert users along the footway to the adjoining road and will be installed at the first opportunity.   

We have been advised by the local authority that the Thames Tow Path is a permissive right of way and not a designated right of way. Following identification of a concern regarding the condition of the bridge, we have acted to manage public safety. We have made financial provision at the earliest opportunity within our planning cycle to undertake the works and are developing the design in to allow us to act as soon as funding is available. 

UPDATE 25th November. Canal & River Trust have finally placed a diversion sign (the one we made and published) on the South side of the bridge

UPDATE 1 DECEMBER Tower Hamlets Council officers refuse to speed up the works required (see letter below). Subsequently, we have met again with Councillor Talukdar, who agrees that waiting eight months to fix the wooden boards is very unsatisfactory.

UPDATE 18 Feb 2023

The imbecils at Canary Wharf Group are making it even more difficult for citizens to navigate the deviation.

The offending signs have been correctly repositioned.


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