Blackfriars Bridge Verdict: “It is not possible to reassign carriageway space to cyclists” – TfL

Update 19/05/2011, 17.55: As everyone else is reporting, flash ride tomorrow at 8.30am, south side of the bridge by Doggett’s pub. Be there.

This afternoon, TfL wrote to stakeholders with details of their updated plans for Blackfriars Bridge.

There are a number of welcome changes in the revised plans. To read more about those, see Cyclists in the City.

There is one detail of the plans so callous, and so dangerous to people riding bikes, that for the moment I find it an insurmountable obstacle to focusing on any of the positives.

Look at the junction at the north end of the bridge:

Now: two traffic lanes, a cycle lane, an advanced stop box

Looking forward: Three traffic lanes, no advanced stop box

We know that 4 out of 5 crashes involving cyclists are at junctions. So why reduce the cycle lane from 2m to 1.5 metres and add an extra traffic lane just where it counts?

The comments on the relevant area (Section D) in TfL’s accompanying written document enlighten us:

It is not possible to reassign carriageway space to cyclists, or to reduce the number of traffic lanes, without significantly worsening conditions for bus passengers and general traffic.

This is yet another example of TfL’s duplicity when discussing Blackfriars Bridge. There are currently two traffic lanes for cyclists at the junctions to contend with. Asking TfL not to add another one is simply not “reassigning carriageway space to cyclists”. It just isn’t.

There are positive details in the new plans, as well as other objectionable ones (e.g. TfL are still getting rid of the pedestrian crossing opposite Westgate, and still raising the speed limit from 20mph to 30mph against the advice of their own Road Safety Unit).

But examples like this demonstrate that TfL are living in a fantasy world, where they continue to pretend that not destroying infrastructure which is less dangerous than average should somehow be seen as actively assigning road space to vulnerable road users.

London Assembly members Val Shawcross and John Biggs are heralding this as a triumph for cyclists (and themselves). But this just shows they’ve swallowed the same fallacy: that TfL not making a road significantly more dangerous is a victory. Feels rather hollow to me.


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