What’s going on with the barriers on London’s bridges?

In just under one week, barriers have appeared on seven bridges in central London. They have been installed in response to the horrific attack at London Bridge on 3 June, with the intention of foiling similar attacks in the future.

Many people have been reassured by the barriers, and the London Cycling Campaign is fully supportive of the Met taking emergency measures to protect Londoners and visitors to our city.

However, we have to make sure these emergency measures don’t unnecessarily impede people going about their day-to-day lives or reduce the level of protection offered to cyclists by compromising the existing cycle lanes. We don’t believe the barriers should be removed, but a small number of tweaks and changes would bring significant improvements, and avoid introducing extra risks to people crossing the river on foot and by bike.

Each bridge will need to be taken on a case-by-case basis, and we’re working with the Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman, the Met Police, TfL and the relevant boroughs to work a long term solution for the bridges.

We’ve also let them know what we think they should do immediately to improve the situation, which you can read about below. Whether our proposals are adopted or not, we are pressing Dr Norman and other senior decision-makers to take action urgently to address the flaws in the current barrier arrangements.

Current situation and proposed improvements

1. Vauxhall Bridge

Current situation: barriers at the entrance to the segregated cycle track, and along the length of the bridge on the track. While this does not pose a safety risk for cyclists, it has reduced space for cycling.

LCC proposal: place barriers along the road or on top of the kerb separating the track from the road.

2. Lambeth Bridge

Current situation: barriers along the bridge, against the kerb on the road. This obstructs the painted cycle lane such that it is unusable, and cyclists have to mix with high volumes of fast moving traffic, including having to exit the cycle lane suddenly into traffic .

LCC proposal: In the short term, the barriers should be placed on the outside of the cycle lane, creating protected space for cyclists and pedestrians. Alternatively, the bus lane heading south should be removed. Space could then be reallocated to cycle lanes either side of the bridge, possibly even placing the barriers to provide safe space for cycling simultaneously. We’re also in discussion with relevant bodies about long term solutions for this bridge that would restore the bus lane as well as safe space for cycling

3. Westminster Bridge

Current situation: as with Lambeth Bridge, the barriers obstruct the cycle lane.

LCC proposal: In the short term, as with Lambeth, the barriers should be placed on the outside of the cycle lane, creating protected space for cyclists and pedestrians. Alternatively, narrowing vehicle lanes and widening the bus lane could help; medium term, we are working with relevant authorities to ensure the segregated track due to be constructed soon on the bridge will work for people cycling and walking and in counter-terrorism terms too. 

4. Waterloo Bridge

Current situation: barriers against the kerb in bus lanes, narrowing them. Despite this, buses are still using the lane, squeezing the vehicle lane and leaving no space for cycling.  

LCC proposal: in the short term, could the barriers be moved out to provide safe space for cycling between bus lane and general vehicle lanes? We are working on a long-term solution here also.

5. Blackfriars Bridge

Current situation: barriers at entrances to cycle track and in the road. At the north side, the security measures, combined with lights and Tideway works are causing a serious bottleneck for cyclists and pedestrians. 

LCC proposal: small adjustments, such as moving the barriers in the track further away from the lights, could help ease congestion, while still maintaining security.

6. Southwark Bridge

Current situation: there are no barriers on the bridge, and we assume this is because the raised kerb that protects the cycle lane is enough of a deterrent. This points the way to one potential long-term solution for other cycle tracks on bridges.

7. London Bridge

Current situation: as with Waterloo Bridge, the barriers are against the kerb in the bus lanes, but as the buses are still using them, it leaves no space for cycling.

LCC proposal: Place the barriers in the bus lane, creating protected space for cyclists and pedestrians. Alternatively, ban buses and other motor vehicles from the existing narrowed bus lane. 

8. Tower Bridge

Current situation: barriers are only on the approach to the bridge here and there are already existing barriers along the bridge. 

LCC proposals: in the short-term, tweaks to ensure those cycling have time to move out to “take the lane” across the bridge would be welcome.

If you have any suggestions for improvements to the current barriers, you can add them to our discussion page on Cyclescape.