Letter from Transport for London explaining Blackfriars Bridge design

This letter was sent to LCC Board member Charles Barraball, from Andrew Miles (Transport for London Government Relationship Manager) via Mr Barraball's London Assembly Member, Richard Tracey.

Dear Sir,

The reopening of Blackfriars Station will greatly increase pedestrian footfall in the area, particularly in the area immediately outside the station.

The number of pedestrians accessing the station at street level will be far greater than when it was operating previously.

Accordingly, the Thameslink Works Act 2006 contains a requirement that new crossing facilities be in place before Blackfriars Station can reopen.

TfL, City of London and Network Rail have been working jointly to develop a scheme that will provide new surface level pedestrian crossing facilities for the new station.

In doing so, it was necessary to review the use of Blackfriars Bridge by all modes, in order to develop a scheme that provides the best balance between the needs of all modes; including pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists.

There were a number of technical considerations to bear in mind, including the physical space and structural restrictions on the bridge, but also security concerns and the need to ensure the traffic capacity of the Blackfriars Bridge junction was not constricted to such an extent that there would be widespread traffic congestion.

The scheme was designed by consultants acting on behalf of Network Rail, and the emerging design was considered by City of London and TfL.

TfL recently consulted key stakeholders and cycling groups about creating a new cycle lane across the Blackfriars Bridge junction, which would allow cyclists to turn right from Embankment on to Blackfriars Bridge more easily.

During this, a number of concerns about the more widespread layout changes were raised.

TfL will therefore carry out further engagement with key stakeholders into the proposed changes to junction design and will feedback any significant issues that are raised to Network Rail's consultants.

Mr Barraball commented on his current experience when cycling north into Queen Victoria Street.

The footways at the section between the Blackfriars on and off slip roads and Victoria Embankment are too narrow to accommodate the significant increase in pedestrians the re-opening of Blackfriars Station will generate.

The footway has been widened at this location to allow for more pedestrians, whilst maintaining a cycle lane of 1.5m, which is the minimum width identified within the London Cycle Design Standards.

There are currently no traffic signals in this area of the bridge, and traffic is free flowing.

The installation of new pedestrian crossing points will introduce signal control, allowing cyclists to position themselves more easily, and so improve their passage across the bridge.

Reducing the number of traffic lanes would generate significant congestion throughout a potentially wide area.

Mr Barraball also commented on the removal of the southbound cycle lane at the entrance to the station.

Network Rail data indicates that pedestrian flow at the station will increase to 10,000 pedestrian movements per hour during the AM peak, as a result of the redevelopment of the station.

The majority of the existing subways outside the station will close, and new surface-level pedestrian crossings will be provided in order to meet this enhanced demand.

The footway outside the station will be widened to provide additional space for pedestrians and to meet DfT guidelines for there to be space between the carriageway and the frontage of a national rail station, for security reasons.

It is necessary to remove a short section of the southbound cycle lane in order to meet the significantly increased demand from pedestrians.

At the same time, TfL must bear in mind traffic flow across the bridge.

It is necessary to provide three southbound traffic lanes on the bridge: two for traffic heading south via Blackfriars Road and one for traffic turning right towards Queen Victoria Street.

Reducing the number of lanes on the bridge would greatly restrict traffic movement and lead to significant queuing, potentially over a wide area.

Buses make up a significant proportion of traffic passing through this area: in the busiest hour of AM peak period a total of 64 buses pass north and southbound through the Blackfriars Bridge junction.

TfL has a duty to keep traffic moving throughout its network.

Overall, the scheme has been designed to have a neutral effect on vehicle flow over the bridge.

If you would find a briefing on this issue useful please let me know,

Regards

Andrew Miles
Transport for London

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