Blackfriars – redesigned for pedestrians

Much of the talk from Transport for London around the time of last summer’s protest on Blackfriars Bridge – a protest that centred on the failure to keep a lower 20 mph speed limit through the junction, and to design a junction adequately suited to the needs of vulnerable users, not simply an urban motorway – stressed that the redesign of the junction, while not what cyclists might have wanted, was largely necessary because of the increased pedestrian flows at the new station.

Take these comments from Ben Plowden, for instance –

Well the first thing to say is that it’s very important to remember why it is we’re doing these junction works. The junction works are necessary to allow the re-opening of Blackfriars Station after its three year, £550 million, upgrade, and there’s going to be a huge increase in the number of people going into and out of the station on foot. In fact there’s going to be a ten-fold increase in the number of people going into and out of the station on foot, and in order to accommodate that increase we’ve had to make more pavement space available for pedestrians and put in two new pedestrian crossings to allow street-level access to the station.

Similar comments were made by Plowden to the Evening Standard

Ben Plowden, TfL’s director of better routes and places, said the changes were designed to cope with a huge increase in pedestrians using the pavements around Blackfriars station, as a result of extra trains and the closure of pedestrian subways. He said pedestrians would account for 57 per cent of people using the north-side junction, compared to six per cent of cyclists. He said the speed limit was temporarily lowered to 20mph because of construction traffic and not because of speed-related safety concerns. The final changes to the junction will not be completed until Christmas, when the station reopens. Mr Plowden said: “I understand the anxiety, but in terms of the practical experience for most people most of the time, the traffic will be going fairly slowly, and for those particular right turns, [cyclists] will have a chance to move across the lanes when the traffic is held at red. The whole point of the junction is to make sure pedestrians can get to and from the station in the morning and evening.

And in this interview with BBC London News.

These comments are singing from the TfL hymnsheet, a.ka. ‘Boris’s script’ –

Blackfriars station will reopen in December 2011 following a £550 million, three year upgrade project. Over 24,000 pedestrians will enter and exit the station during the morning peak and the junction outside of the station has had to be redesigned to accommodate these hugely increased pedestrian flows. The need for new pedestrian crossings has created an opportunity to reassess the whole junction and deliver a new layout that would mean improvement for as many users as possible. This new design accommodates the huge increase in demand from pedestrians, who will make up 58% of all users of the junction whilst improving facilities for the estimated 6% of people travelling through by bicycle. This has been achieved without creating conditions which would severely disbenefit other modes, including bus and taxi passengers, who will account for around a fifth of those using the junction.

This same ‘hymnsheet’ also cites the new pedestrian crossings as a reason for rejecting the maintenance of the 20 mph limit – they would keep average traffic speeds down.

Now that the new layout is almost complete, what does the junction look like for pedestrians – the users for whom TfL say it has been explicitly redesigned?

As both Cyclists In The City and War On The Motorist have noted, there are now no pedestrian crossings across the southern end of New Bridge Street, where it meets the Victoria Embankment and Queen Victoria Street. It has been removed.

Here’s how pedestrians are crossing that stretch of road, on a relatively quiet afternoon last week –

To my mind, this is not evidence of a junction that has been redesigned for pedestrians; quite the opposite.

This is before the station, in the background, has even opened. The chances of a collision occurring once those ‘24,000 pedestrians’ TfL refer to are coming in and out of the station – many across this very road – are surely very high indeed. Especially when we consider that those vehicles coming from the right and left in the video are travelling in what is currently a 20 mph limit; a speed limit that will disappear once the junction works are complete.

This entry was posted in 20 mph limits, Boris Johnson, Infrastructure, LCC, London, Road safety, Smoothing traffic flow, Transport for London. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Blackfriars – redesigned for pedestrians

  1. Roddy Pattison says:

    Horribly bad.

  2. Welcome to the 21s Century City(!)

  3. zanf says:

    With TfL’s track record for ignoring recommendations and advocate groups warnings of the dangers of such junctions, I wonder how long it will be before a pedestrian or cyclist is injured?

    When that does happen, what accountability within TfL will there be? Will Ben Plowden have the good grace to throw himself upon his sword out of shame?

  4. dave says:

    Everyone at TFL involved with this horrible junction should face corporate manslaughter charges when the first death occurs there.

  5. Nico says:

    I’m beginning to think we should use reverse psychology on TfL, and ask for increased speed limits and removal of pedestrian crossings/cycle lanes over the entire Greater London area.

  6. I was going to say that they’ll just install pedestrian barriers, but apparently this isn’t likely. Pedestrians will just have to learn the signal timings, so they can cross without getting squashed. The best we can hope for is a critical mass of pedestrians crossing, forcing the cars to stop.

  7. Even my 11 year old daughter can see the glaringly obvious failure of logic here when I discussed it with her a few months back (in explaining why I was on the BF protest ride) – increase pedestrian flow so you REMOVE crossings? Makes absolutely no sense.
    If/when (heaven forbid) the first death does occur I reckon TFL should be up for corporate manslaughter charges.

  8. Truly horrific. What will it take to re-educate TFL ?

  9. Absolutely appalling. Desperately bad.

  10. Iain says:

    I wonder which of the Mayor candidates will stand up and campaign on increasing crossings and making it easier to travel by foot and bicycle in London – it’s a lovely city, be nice to be able to explore all week rather than just Sunday mornings!

  11. Jono says:

    What a complete farce. I remember Ben talking about pedestrians to London Tonight before the last main protest at Blackfriars, and he made a resonable argument in terms of losing space for cyclists in order to give to peds. But this video (excellent work!) shows his words are meaningless. I watched Ben at the London Assembly where he blurted out that cyclists would be advised not to use the Cycle ‘Super’ (Ha) Highway to Bow before the Olympics. I guess if you only spend £3 million per mile on a cycling facility it is too much to expect people to be able to use it?

  12. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    I’m about to use that non-crossing to get my lunchtime sandwich. It is a ludricrous bit of redesign, made worse if anything because, crossing east to west, you’re seduced into thinking it’s safe because the southbound traffic (ahem, except for the odd cyclist) is stopped at the lights. Then the northbound traffic speeds past without restriction.

  13. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    er, ludicrous, not ludricrous.

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