London cyclists' needs neglected in redesign of Blackfriars Bridge

photo The redesign on the southbound lanes on Blackfriars Bridge do very little to protect cyclists 

Back in 2004, a Transport for London inquiry into two cyclist fatalities on Blackfriars Bridge found that consultation failure and poor cycle-lane design played a major role in the deaths.

As a result of the inquiry, all Transport for London cycle planning processes were overhauled.

In 2006, when the northbound flows on Blackfriars Bridge were redesigned LCC was consulted, and we were promised a "non-motorised user audit" before the southbound flows were redesigned.

Now, in 2011, it's been revealed that cycle lanes on the northern end are to be removed and replaced with extra traffic lanes.

LCC's Charlie Lloyd said, "We were shocked when we saw the designs for the whole junction.

"Frighteningly, they'll encourage high volumes of motor traffic on to what could be a glorious riverside location."

LCC was promised by TfL that the southbound route would be redesigned to assist cyclists after the re-building Blackfriars station, which has been taking place for the past year.

However, the new road layout includes the following major flaws:

  • It uses the same basic layout that was designed in the 1960s, when Blackfriars Bridge was the major trunk road crossing the Thames.
  • It retains the distended roundabout at the north end, even though it's unnecessary now that right turns are allowed from Queen Victoria St.
  • It removes a cycle lane and adds two extra motor traffic lanes on the narrowest, steepest section going south.
  • It fails to maintain the 2m-wide cycle lane on the northbound lane, installed after cyclist Vicki McCreery was killed by a bus in 2004.
  • There's no eastbound access to Watergate, which is the beginning of a very quiet backstreet route all the way to Kings Cross.
  • There's no pedestrian or cycle crossing of New Bridge St.

Lloyd said, "LCC is calling on the Mayor to acknowledge that Blackfriars Bridge is no longer the main trunk road crossing of the Thames.

"The whole area needs to be redesigned to allow for another doubling of cycle traffic in the next decade, and at the same time create a truly pedestrian-friendly space linking the station to the City."

A silver lining in the otherwise-appalling design is the proposal for a cycle lane across the roundabout at the north end of the bridge, giving cyclists access to an easy right turn from the ramp up from Victoria Embankment to go southbound on the bridge.

Lloyd said, "It's a good idea although it requires a wider cycle lane for increase cycle traffic heading in three directions.

LCC has also welcomed the restoration of many of the road-level pedestrian routes in the area, which could help remove the isolation that has blighted Blackfriars station for two generations.

After the cyclist fatalities on the northbound side of the bridge in 2004 TfL consulted LCC in re-designing the cycle routes, a lane 2.1 metres wide was put in, more space given to pedestrians and the dangerous sweeping curve to the embankment was removed.

The new road layout is being funded by Network Rail even though it is on the Mayor's road network.

See the google maps view of how it was in 2005.