April 5, 2021 2.53 pm This story is over 30 months old

Humber Bridge footpaths closed indefinitely after six deaths in a month

Over 200 deaths in 26 years

The footpaths on the Humber Bridge have been closed until further notice following the deaths of six young people in just one month.

The paths on either side of the bridge usually provide access for pedestrians and cyclists, but are now closed indefinitely.

A spokesperson for the Humber Bridge Board has said that this decision has been made after an unspecified recent incident.

The pedestrian footpaths have been a topic of debate for a number of years. | Photo: Fred Roberts / Geograph

Though unconfirmed, it may be connected to recent incidents in which a number of people have died at the bridge this year.

A teenage girl from Willerby near Hull became the second person in just three days to die at the Humber Bridge, when she lost her life at the bridge on Sunday, March 28.

Her death was one of six to happen between March 3 and April 3 on the bridge. It’s estimated over 200 people died after falling from the bridge in the 26 years it has been open.

A spokesperson from the Humber Bridge Board said: “We understand closing the footways has been a controversial decision that has not attracted universal support, but we would like to reassure the public that it has been taken as an emergency response to the unprecedented and deeply troubling events at the Humber Bridge over recent weeks. 

“It is no secret that there has been a spate of people – mostly young people from the local area – who have decided to end their lives at the bridge.

“Closing the footways is the most immediate and effective way to prevent further incidents of this nature and this was our sole consideration when making the decision. 

“As well as protecting emotionally distressed individuals, the measure has been implemented to protect our staff and the public. 

“When these tragic events occur, our staff are the first responders and have to deal with some extremely distressing and traumatic situations. We have a duty to minimise their exposure to such incidents to protect their mental health and wellbeing. 

“The Humber Bridge Board currently spends a quarter of a million pounds each year on measures designed to prevent emotionally distressed individuals from ending their lives at the bridge. Until last month these measures have been largely effective. 

“However, the recent tragic events are unlike anything we have previously dealt with and we are working closely with Public Health, local MPs, local authorities, emergency services, the Samaritans, Hull and East Yorkshire Mind and other stakeholders to fully understand them and assess the future risk. While this is ongoing, the footways must remain closed to the general public.  

“We are, however, looking at reopening access to commuters as soon as possible, to minimise disruption to those who cycle or walk to work over the Humber Bridge, and we are considering a range of measures to ensure the situation can be effectively managed once the footways fully reopen.”

The decision has been met with a mixed response, with some praising the action taken against recent events and others suggesting that it makes the area dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

A petition was launched demanding action and more safety measures for pedestrians at the bridge, gaining almost 9,000 signatures to date.

If you’ve been affected by what happened today, there is always someone to talk to. You can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 from any phone for a confidential chat.