Friday, 18 February 2011

Object to new Blackfriars Bridge scheme now. Five days to respond to insane new layout from TfL. How to let TfL know what you think


UPDATE: We met with Transport for London planners last night.

Read this updated post here which tells you what they had to say about the scheme in more detail





These are the plans just in from Transport for London for the north side of Blackfriars Bridge.

You can object to these plans now. And please do so quickly. All the details on who to write to are below.

Let's just remember that at rush-hour, 35.6% of the traffic heading north through this junction consists of bicycles. Cars plus taxis make up only 31.9%.

There are masses of problems with the layout. I don't know where to start. But I'd urge people to send their comments to the senior traffic design engineer for this project as soon as possible. There are internal deadlines for the project on Wednesday 23rd February.

If you feel very strongly about this, email relevant London Assembly members including  john.biggs@london.gov.uk , jenny.jones@london.gov.uk and valerie.shawcross@london.gov.uk. You could also add the Mayor mayor@london.gov.uk

I would like to suggest emailing Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's advisor for transport but I can't find his details in any public forum. In all cases, please be nice to the AMs. . 


Where to start?

Firstly, let's say you're heading north into Queen Victoria Street. At the moment, you need to cross one lane of traffic. You'll now have to cross two and get into the third lane. You'll then not be able to get to the front of the motor traffic any longer because there's a giant traffic island in the middle of the filter area. 


Once you get over the bridge, there's a traffic island in the middle which narrows the carriageway but doesn't add anything to the overall road scape - the traffic island isn't going to be a pedestrian crossing any more. So why is it there at all? If you're on New Bridge Street on the other side, heading south, this traffic island just takes up space and makes the entry to the bridge so narrow that it's almost impossible to get to the bridge in the mornings. If you don't believe me, look at these pictures of what this space looks like on a typical rush hour. So why not do away with the traffic island if it's not being used as a pedestrian crossing any more (or at least remove some of the new pavement on the eastern side of the junction just by the lights) and create space for bicycles to get past the stationary traffic. 

Head south into the bridge itself and the cycle lane that is there now, is gone until you get past the new station entrance. So you're in the main traffic flow. At the moment, you get your own space.

That would be fine except that heading south at the moment, there is only one lane of general traffic heading on to the bridge next to you. According to this plan, you'll now have two - basically, TfL is building motorway conditions across a bridge that has a majority of cyclists at both rush-hours. Head south and want to get on to Embankment - you'll have to charge across three lanes of traffic. It is currently only two. Which is far far easier to cross.

There's loads of space for a proper 2.5m wide cycle lane. But it's being used for cars instead. It's already proven that the single lane into the bridge works. So why make it two?

As a pedestrian, you won't be able to cross from the Blackfriars pub over to the other side of New Bridge Street any longer (at Watergate). That's an incredibly busy pedestrian crossing.

The only good addition I can see is a slightly wider cycle lane heading north over Upper Thames Street after you've crossed the bridge (but which means less pavement space for pedestrians crossing the bridge here) and a new crossing for cycles coming off the Embankment to enable them to turn right on to Blackfriars Bridge through the middle of the traffic island. Although I can't really see the point of this new crossing as hardly ever makes that manoeuvre. In any case, to access that new cycle crossing, you'll have to do a sort of right hand turn out of the right hand lane coming up the slip road on to the junction. Something I suspect most motor drivers behind you won't really understand.

My reading of this plan is that it's designed to allow cars to travel faster through the junction on more lanes. To make it less convenient for pedestrians. To make cycles part of the traffic flow, where they have to leg it across multiple lanes of relatively faster moving traffic than now.

It's going to turn something that is currently a fairly slow-paced junction where it is not impossible to get across the lanes into something that is frankly worse than it ever was before. TfL has designed an urban motorway here, it seems to me.

For a bridge where the majority of rush-hour traffic consists of bicycles not cars or taxis, this is just vandalism. I'm sorry to be so frank but it really is.

This is my initial reading of the scheme. And I'll review it in more detail over the weekend. But I'd urge as many people as possible to write to TfL now while we still have time and to get their thoughts sent in by Wednesday of next week.

Once again, the contact is Jamila.Barrett@tfl.gov.uk and a cc to john.biggs@london.gov.uk , jenny.jones@london.gov.uk and valerie.shawcross@london.gov.uk plus mayor@london.gov.uk

By the way, if you want a better understanding of why Transport for London might be planning to turn Blackfriars Bridge into a motorway, read this article on the Crap Cycling in Waltham Forest site which explains very succinctly why TfL is just responding to the Mayor's desire to get private cars moving around London faster. And what that means for London's streets and general environment.

26 comments:

  1. Permeability seems to have been forgotten after GCSE Science, because you can't turn left from New Bridge Street into Queen Victoria Street any more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Done a fairly robust message to that TFL email, thanks for flagging this up. Looks very similar to the horrible lane markings done outside of Brixton Town Hall on the A23. Narrow lanes and cyclists squeezed out or left trying to cross 3 lanes of accelerating cars.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What's the idea with the less than 20m shared pedestrian/cycle path on west side? I've never understood those; I see shared path in complicated looking junction ahead thinking it's safe route through the junction only to see it stops pretty much as soon as I've left the main road.

    Going from south to north-east I suppose it wouldn't be as bad if already on the bridge you know it's right turn on right lane only, at least it would give you more time to merge to right lane rather than when it's pretty much too late already. Not holding my breath though, and it doesn't look too fun in any case.

    Going south the three lanes looks just plain hostile. Seems to me the only function it has is to discourage cycling and make room for a few more cards in the 45m stretch before the bus lane. With two lanes could almost fit a second cycle lane for turning right there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have sent my tuppence worth to Jamila.

    Does anyone know which "stakeholders" were consulted on this?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cheers for this post - very informative - I'm going to write something up and link over from Londonist.

    Jamesup

    ReplyDelete
  6. Post is up. http://londonist.com/2011/02/tfl-planning-to-remove-blackfriars-bridge-approach-cycle-lane.php

    ReplyDelete
  7. No, thank you! Have you tweeted @RossLydall from the standard? He's often a good man for these things.

    J

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jamesup: We're actually going to meet TfL about this tomorrow night. If you let me know how to contact you directly, I'll let you know how that goes before I write it up on here. And I'll contact RossLydall then as well. Thanks for the heads-up

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'd like to know how many TfL executives have ever been on a bike. These shared, short paths are just utterly ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sent an objection in, cc'd my AM, Jenny Jones & Kulveer Ranger. 30 mins later Jenny Jones sent this :-)

    Jenny Jones to me, Jamila.Barrett, val, Kulveer, me, Ian, Tom
    show details 2:44 PM (36 minutes ago)
    Hello Jamila
    I would like to record my horror at the proposed changes to the system.
    I understand that more of the north bound rush hour traffic is cyclists than cars+taxis combined. Yet the scheme will take away relatively safe cycle lanes and pedestrian access and give more space over to cars.
    This is a backward step for London, and for TfL, showing little understanding of the crucial role of cyclists and pedestrians in the wellbeing of the city.
    The plans are dreadful and need immediate revision and then proper consultation. This was an attempt to squeeze dangerous plans through without proper scrutiny.
    Jenny

    ------------------------------------
    Jenny Jones

    ReplyDelete
  11. Have emailed your about me address.

    ReplyDelete
  12. As a pedestrian who walks across the bridge every day I agree the island on the way to Q Victoria Street is nuts. I have a feeling the large island has works underneath it that means traffic can't be allowed over it, would be worth asking.

    As a pedestrian they seem to have taken out the crossings if you walk over the west side of the bridge towards Farringdon, or are they just not shown?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Fabulous Jenny Jones feedback. Thank you John..!

    ReplyDelete
  14. diogenes - you read right. They've removed some of the pedestrians crossings. I think you may be right abuot the works under the traffic island. We're meeting TfL tomorrow night. Full report later in the week

    ReplyDelete
  15. Also got mentioned in guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/bike-blog/2011/feb/21/bike-lane-blackfriars-bridge

    ReplyDelete
  16. Have also emailed Jamila Barrett to express concern. Hope TfL re-think this.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have emailed - also copied in Val Shawcross as I live in Lambeth.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Couple of points.
    Wile it's great that bike numbers are up, it's not true that it's "a bridge where the majority of rush-hour traffic consists of bicycles not cars or taxis". Even allowing for the absence of buses, coaches and motorbikes from the figures, cycling is the largest mode but doesn't get close to 50%.
    Are the "private cars" just that, or do they include licensed minicabs, which tend to constitute at least half of car-type vehicles in central London?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Have to say I've wanted to turn right from the Embankment a few times to get to Southwark and CS7, usually end up pushing the bike across the crossing by Watergate and remounting and cycling over the bridge. The new lane would be handy, I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd use it.

    I can't see a reason for the cycle lane not being contnuous southbound - the road doesn't appear to narrow at all.

    In terms of crossing the flow of traffic for the various routes available, I agree it wouldn't be something I'd be keen to try with the traffic at speed. However, I suspect the reality would be that you'd filter into the ASL at the north of the bridge and hold the right hand lane into the filter. Easy to type it, not so easy when there's cars and taxis right behind you, if the traffic lights are sequenced to keep speeds down then cyclists should be safer and able to filter across the lanes. Of course, to achieve that would require most routes hitting at least 2 red lights as they pass through, which I doubt would go down well with the traffic flow people. If the lights had faster phases say halving the current times so while you'd be more likely to get a red, you'd spend less ime at it so overall throughput of vehicles shouldn't change.

    It's great that cycling makes up such a margin of the traffic, if the roads were a bit safer, more tourists would be on bikes too!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sven,

    Majority doesn't necessarily mean more than 50%. Consider general elections: in our constituency based system, one requires a simple majority to win. This is actually very rarely more than half the votes. A candidate just needs to get more votes than any other.

    See: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/simple+majority

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm curious, how did you find these plans in the first place? I understand they weren't exactly advertised. When plans with this level of detail get published, where would one normally find them?

    ReplyDelete
  22. @tko - these plans were sent to the London Cycling Campaign on Friday night. They forwarded them straight to me and I'd written this up within the hour. TfL is consulting only on the utterly pointless new right hand turn feature that comes off the slip road up from the Embankment. But I think the plan merits wider review, not simply a few polite comments on the slip road addition. I hope you agree?

    ReplyDelete
  23. I agree, I shared my views with them, both about the plans and how they were announced.

    So I gather the usual process is for TfL to send plans only to registered parties, and LCC is one of them, and not make them accessible to all?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Cycleoffutility

    Neither the time nor the place, but:
    It doesn't say "simple majority",it says "majority" .Different definition. Possibly why we describe elections as "first past the post" rather more often than "simple majority".

    ReplyDelete