Flash ride for Blackfriars Bridge! Tomorrow!

Blackfriars proposals 'not good enough' say cyclists (see below for details of tomorrow's ride):

Following a storm of protest over proposals by Transport for London to strip cycle lanes out of the northern junction of Blackfriars Bridge and to increase the road lanes from two to three for cars, TfL yesterday set out their new proposals for the bridge after they were sent back to the drawing board by cycling campaigners.  TfL's original plans so incensed cyclists that some 600 wrote to complain.

Are the new designs any better?  Decide for yourself...

Space for cycle lanes throughout the junction has been found, as if by magic, but this is to the detriment of space for pedestrians, not cars.  Most importantly the southbound cycle lanes through the junction which were to be removed will now be retained - but this will still produce conditions where cyclists find themselves in a minimum width painted cycle lane alongside 3 lanes of fast moving traffic.

The current speed limit of 20mph will be raised to 30mph, despite the current limit not leading to any noticeable congestion, and despite a 2008 TfL report recommending a 20mph bridge limit to smooth traffic flow.

There will be a new toucan crossing which will allow cyclists coming up the ramp from the Embankment to cross and turn to go southbound across the bridge, which is great.

It's the Blackfriars Bridge cycling charge! Where cyclists far out-number other road users, and still get treated like crap...

Squeezed in with fast moving traffic:

But, as the Cyclists in the City blog point out; "Heading northbound, the good news is that the bike lane will be a fraction wider immediately as you come off the bridge. But then 7,000 of you are crammed into a 1.5m wide space heading north into New Bridge Street and smack into a bus stop. No change there then. 

And if you're heading to Queen Victoria Street you will now have to figure out how to turn right across three lanes of motor traffic with a higher speed limit (is 20mph now, will be 30mph). There's not even an advanced stop line to help you get out the way of HGVs heading this way. It's way more dangerous than it is at the moment. The irony is that the City of London agreed last week to pursue a policy of 20mph across the Square Mile, just as Transport for London decides the exact opposite here."

Second Class Citizens:

And for me, there's the rub.. This is a bridge where cyclists out-number cars at the busiest times of day - and yet cars, the minority, still get priority.  There was outrage at the initial plans because they would have literally ended up killing cyclists.  The new plans are better, but still pretty crap, and will just about help to manage the existing cyclist traffic flow, who will still be expected to battle for space at junctions with buses, taxis and HGVs... but where in these plans is provision for the future?  Isn't Boris Johnson's London supposed to be becoming a cyclised city?  There's no space in these new plans for extra growth in cycling, but plenty of space set aside for cars despite them being a declining user group on the Bridge.  Once again all those bankers, financiers, clerks, designers and others who choose to use a bicycle to get to their jobs in the City are being treated as second class citizens by TfL.  The new plans provide the bare minimum for getting all those cyclists across the junction in just about as uncomfortable conditions as they can.  It's not the sort of place you'd cycle with your kids, or your Nan, which are the true hallmarks of a world class cycling city.

Frankly, I'm appalled.  And where Blackfriars leads, other bridges and junctions will follow.  Are these the kind of conditions cyclists can expect to tolerate after the re-design of Vauxhall Cross and Vauxhall Bridge?  Will the new Parliament Square treat us in a similar way?  When Old Street roundabout finally gets re-designed will this be the sort of 1960s traffic planning pedestrians and people on bikes will have to contend with?

For a major 'world class' metropolitan city which claims to be forward thinking and competitive, it is all a bit of a joke. London Cycling Campaign chief executive Ashok Sinha said, "Transport for London has made some welcome improvements, such as reinstating the southbound cycle lane, but this is still the kind of junction you'd expect on a motorway.
"The mayor says he wants a cyclised city, so he must tell TfL that this kind of lethal junction must become a relic of the past.
“One-third of vehicles using this bridge at peak times are bicycles, and the mayor says he wants this figure to grow – however, the new design from TfL will frustrate this ambition."
“LCC is demanding that the current 20mph speed limit be retained, which would massively reduce road danger if it's properly enforced.
“The choice for cyclists shouldn’t be to navigate through a dangerous junction or take a boat.”
Flash Ride:
And the LCC are REALLY angry about this, so much so that they're calling on all London Cyclists to join them tomorrow morning for a Flash Ride across Blackfriars to show TfL that the safety and comfort of people on bikes MUST be taken seriously.  They're gathering on the bridge on the south side by the Dogget's pub at 08.30AM for a mass ride across the bridge to the City - who of you will join them?

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Jim said...

That's some good rabble-rousing Mark! I'll be there tomorrow morning.

I found the tone of TfL's letter quite striking. They seem to expect pats on the back for restoring a 1.5m wide cycle lane southbound (at the expense of pedestrians, as you say), but they are still a million miles from the idea of designing roads around the needs of cyclists and pedestrians as opposed to the needs of cars. Accommodating vehicles is the over-riding obsession. And even for something as self-evidently sensible as a 20mph speed limit, they didn't seem to think they needed to justify a higher limit, but that anyone advocating lowering it had to make an overwhelming case.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks Jim, rabble rousing is a speciality ;-)

No seriously, if London was *serious* about becoming a cycling city all this wouldn't be necessary and we wouldn't be fighting off '60s style traffic schemes. I'm glad you are coming, do spread the word and I'll see you there!

Anonymous said...

i dont want central london to be like a grandprix circuit anymore. i want it to be like amsterdam. i will be there and im telling my colleagues. Ben

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark, good work at getting the crowd out! we will definately be coming! looking forward to seeing you! Jen

ndru said...

Wow, finally something going on! Count me in. I'll bring in the Leviathan LOL. If you wish to produce some boards with inspiring slogans I'll be happy to strap them onto my bike.

Anonymous said...

I can't make it tomorrow morning. Is there a petition available anywhere where I can add my name to?

Anonymous said...

I'm hacked off with cyclist getting treated like second class road users. I know there's a rally on the last Friday of every month but as cyclists, we've got a unique opportunity to create havoc on the roads of London without causing ourselves any problems (a bit like what motorists do all the time). All we need to do is cycle around in large groups, say, every Monday morning on the way to work. Let's bring this city to its knees until it starts listening.