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Hundreds of cyclists riding across Battersea Bridge, the front three have the words

Open letter on Battersea Bridge

Following the fatal collision with a 27 year old woman on Battersea Bridge, a known and untreated collision hotspot, we are calling for action...

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Update: protest saw 300+ people cycling over Battersea Bridge, Thursday 7 September

Following the publication of our open letter, our protest saw hundreds of riders cross Battersea Bridge to mark one month on from the fatal collision with a 27 year old woman cycling. This notorious bridge and its junctions cannot be fixed fast enough for her – but we do not believe TfL, the Mayor, Kensington & Chelsea and Wandsworth should wait for the next serious collision before taking action…

To Mayor of London, TfL, Kensington & Chelsea & Wandsworth

LCC and our Kensington & Chelsea and Wandsworth local groups have written to the Mayor’s office, TfL and Councillors at both Kensington & Chelsea and Wandsworth Council regarding their inaction over the known collision hotspot at Battersea Bridge. The full letter is available for download here and pasted in text form below. It simply is inexcusable that safety schemes in locations like Battersea Bridge have been delayed for years and weakened because of ‘concerns’ over motor traffic – which is put above lives.

Letter in full

Deputy London Mayor (Transport) Seb Dance
Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman
TfL Commissioner Andy Lord
Kensington & Chelsea Council Leader, Cllr Elizabeth Campbell
Kensington & Chelsea Council Planning, Place & Environment, Cllr Cem Kemahli
Wandsworth Council Leader, Cllr Simon Hogg
Wandsworth Cabinet Member (Transport) Cllr Jenny Yates

A 27 year old woman was killed while cycling on Battersea Bridge on 10 August. It is far too early for us to speculate on the reasons for this fatal collision. But we can say with great certainty that years of dithering over any changes to Battersea Bridge, a known collision hotspot, means Kensington & Chelsea Council, Wandsworth Council and TfL bear some responsibility for this fatal collision and the ongoing toll of collisions here stretching over decades.

The current situation

Battersea Bridge and the junctions on both sides of it have been known collision hotspots for those walking and cycling for decades. Any commitment to a ‘Vision Zero’ of an end to fatal collisions on London’s roads cannot then happen without the bridge and its junctions changing significantly.

TfL has proposals for the bridge and junctions at either end but these have been long delayed, in part because of opposition and calls for the scheme to be weakened by politicians and other stakeholders. But even if this scheme had been put in by 10 August, the proposals are already so weak, it is likely they would not have saved this woman’s life anyway. There are no changes proposed on the bridge itself, despite the likelihood that the lane widths on the bridge constitute a ‘critical issue’ for cycling safety by TfL and DfT’s own guidance.

The ongoing toll of collisions, unchecked for too long already, are a litany of failure that should rest heavily on your collective shoulders.

Act now, save lives

LCC will protest on 7 September, on Battersea Bridge, to highlight not just this latest fatality, and not just the delay and weakening of the TfL scheme – but decades of inaction and resulting serious injuries and fatalities on the bridge and the junctions either end, that again, you should have acted on already.

It is long past time for change from your organisations – below is what we believe is needed from you, urgently:

  • TfL cannot hope to fulfil the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, much less Net Zero 2030 motor traffic reduction targets if it cannot fix its working practices. Battersea Bridge is just the latest in a long line of schemes that have been weakened because of internal incoherence and siloed working at TfL, and a lack of boldness and innovation across the organisation. TfL must be clear about its priorities and put people and planet first. And stop trying to deliver for the status quo of now, but be bolder and move faster to deliver the future. This also means more trial schemes and temporary materials that were shown to be effective during the pandemic.
  • TfL must also work on Battersea Bridge specifically to improve your scheme and rapidly deliver it. The medium term answer is likely an area-wide plan encompassing multiple bridges, tackling where cycling, freight, buses go and how to separate them for safety and to enable the potential for each mode. One obvious answer here might be to work with the boroughs to make Albert Bridge walking and cycling only now. But there are alternatives.
  • Kensington & Chelsea council must end its infamous opposition to cycling. The Battersea Bridge consultation response summary includes numerous negative contributions from your councillors, including the council’s overall response, summarised by TfL as only accepting safety improvements achieved without “impacting traffic”. It’s time to recognise the damage to human lives your approach has resulted in. Prioritise safety for people and planet – commit to clear targets on road danger and motor vehicle use reduction, and back those by sticking to best practice and evidence over anecdote and resident ‘concerns’. Lead residents in a conversation on road danger and motor vehicle use reduction, not follow. And act now, fast, to help fix Battersea Bridge.
  • Wandsworth council must trade kind words for deeds on active travel. As with Kensington & Chelsea, actively lead residents on motor vehicle use reduction and active travel, rather than follow. And deliver a safer Battersea Bridge on your side of the Thames by reducing turning motor vehicle movements at junctions south of the bridge – and that means through traffic management schemes either side of the bridge, which Wandsworth should implement as part of the scheme or alongside it, and fast.

We ask you all to come back urgently with concrete plans to act on this and other preventable collisions that you have failed us all on.

Tom Fyans, Chief Executive, London Cycling Campaign
Christophe Noblet, Coordinator, Kensington & Chelsea Cycling Campaign
Celia Duncan, Coordinator, Wandsworth Cycling Campaign

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