Road works that work for cyclists

As part of its partnership work with TfL and the Construction Logistics and Community Safety community LCC is looking at some of the innovative approaches to reducing road danger and improving safety implemented by CLOCS members. Thames Tideway is building the 25 kilometre Thames sewer tunnel .

Road works that work for cyclists

Stand on west side of  Blackfriars Bridge at 8am or 6pm and look over the bridge, beyond the roadworks, and you will see a unique spaghetti junction of busy cycle tracks winding up and down and heading in several  directions.  Despite the roadworks blocking the East-West cycle highway, thousands of cyclists are able continue using the routes they established before the major blockage was implemented.


The road works were installed by Thames Tideway which manages one of the largest construction projects in the capital – the £3bn, 25 kilometre long Thames sewer tunnel. Tideway is a CLOCS champion requires all its contractors and suppliers to be members of the Freight Operators Recognition Safety scheme.  

Major road works are commonplace in London but the provision of a comprehensive mitigation scheme that  actually works may surprise those used to the all-too-common  ‘ Cyclist Dismount’ signs or ‘Cycle lane closed’ signs.

The Thames Tideway road works  at Blackfriars were a significant challenge for managing  cycle traffic because they are located  where two of the most popular segregated cycle routes in the UK cross.  In their first year of use,  the two ‘cycle superhighways’ are already attracting more than 2,750 riders per hour in the morning peak. A large number of them change direction at exactly the point where Thames Tideway is working on its tunnel .

In a welcome example of good practice Tideway chose to design a scheme, in cooperation with TfL,  to enable cyclists to cycle through and around its road works rather than trying to re-route them via more hazardous routes or doing nothing at all. Tideway were aware that their programme would last several years and wanted more than a short term solution in place. The challenge was how to accommodate a dozen different bicycle movements at the junction along with numerous pedestrian movements. Tideway's Project manager , Andy Alder, recalls: “Blackfriars Bridge is an important hub for both the north-south and east-west cycle superhighways in Central London, and it was vital that our works took account of the significance of this location to cyclists. Our team worked incredibly hard to ensure that the solution we delivered works for cyclists and takes the safety of all road users into account."

The complex scheme, which turns a car slip lane into a two way cycle track and rearranges several traffic signals, was initially consulted with TfL and their road works expert, and then consulted with stakeholders, including LCC. Encouragingly, for a road works cycling project of a unique scale, it was well received.  Suggested changes were considered and the implementation, using enough ‘giant Lego’ to delight a child and flexible plastic ‘wands (see photo above),’ was efficiently carried out.

In another good practice example  TfL, Tideway  and stakeholders from Southwark Cyclists and LCC were out troubleshooting on the first day.  This meant necessary alterations could be swiftly implemented.

 Continued use of the junction by thousands of cyclists and pedestrians  testifies to the value of the design work, the consultation and implementation. Most users would surely wish that every road works scheme in London paid equally close attention to the safety and convenience of pedestrians and cyclists. Tideway itself recognises that its own programme needs to match Blackfriars: Alder says “I’m delighted with what we have delivered at Blackfriars, but we’re also conscious it raises the bar for what we deliver throughout the project.”