Transport for London, and London’s bridges

The Cyclists In The City blog has been doing an excellent job recently in documenting the rather unpleasant potential consequences for cyclists arising from the proposed redesign of the Blackfriars Bridge gyratory.

Reading the back and forth with Transport for London, it is almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that this body is almost entirely fixated on the needs of motor vehicles on London’s roads. When they refer to ‘traffic flow’, they mean the flow of motor vehicles, not bicycles. Bicycles are not ‘traffic’ for TfL. Why else would they be proposing to reintroduce three southbound vehicle lanes onto the bridge, in the name of managing ‘traffic flow’ – a measure that simultaneously makes it far more unpleasant to cycle in this area?

TfL, it seems, are quite prepared to completely ignore bicycles as ‘traffic’, despite the fact that, on Blackfriars Bridge, bicycles currently compose 35.6% of all northbound morning traffic. That – incredibly – is more than all motor vehicles combined, and yet the needs of cyclists, apparently, figure nowhere in TfL’s plans for the gyratory redesign. TfL are proposing the bare minimum – literally -

maintaining a cycle lane of 1.5m, which is the minimum width identified within the London Cycle Design Standards.

Whoop-di-doo. That’s going to be a massive help in negotiating a three-lane race track.

Now, the numbers of cyclists crossing London Bridge – while not quite as impressive as Blackfriars Bridge – are still significant, as a proportion of the total. But as with Blackfriars, we see a road network that does not reflect this reality.

London Bridge, in all its glory -

Now, it is incredible, to me, that in 2011, we find the bridges in our city so geared around a mode of transport so unsuited to a dense urban network. The unpleasant and dangerous railings have recently been removed, but this is still, effectively, a motorway, right in the heart of our capital city, three lanes in each direction.

But setting that aside, what is most absurd is that the northbound entrance to this bridge, here,

is only one lane wide. This governs the rate at which vehicles can enter the bridge. So why open out the carriageway, immediately, to three lanes? Even at the height of rush hour, you will never see this bridge full of traffic.

The road layout does not make sense, on the most basic level.

Welcome to the weird world of Transport for London, and their skewed priorities.

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