Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Blackfriars - London Assembly votes tomorrow. Conservative response implies: It's just as important to drive fast as create safe crossings.

Tomorrow, London's Assembly Members vote on a motion tabled by Jenny Jones of the Green Party asking the Mayor to reconsider his decision to raise the speed limit at the north of Blackfriars Bridge - a junction used by tens of thousands of pedestrians and cyclists every day. Last week, yet another cyclist was knocked off her bike on Blackfriars as she tried to turn towards the station and you can review her comments in this video here.

The 20mph recommendation is just one measure to try and undo an insane scheme delivered by Transport for London to turn the junction into a motorway, for fear of slowing down motor vehicle speeds. This, despite the fact, that motor vehicles on this junction are outnumbered by pedestrians and cyclists. There are more cyclists here than private motor vehicles and taxis combined at both rush hours.

Even without Conservative support, the motion could easily be passed, 14 votes to 11, if all assembly members vote as predicted. We know that the Labour and LibDem Assembly Members support the motion and Val Shawcross of Labour and Caroline Pidgeon of the LibDems have both been extremely vocal about the point that Blackfriars is representative of Transport for London's agenda is all about making life more convenient for motoring and less convenient for people walking or cycling.

Last week, twitter followers reported that even the Richard Barmbrook would be voting in support of Jenny Jones's motion. Barnbrook is the former BNP and now independent Assembly Member. That could make it 15 votes to 11. In my opinion, the Conservatives in London are beginning to look a bit out of touch on the issue of safety for London's pedestrians and cyclists.

Richard Tracey, Conservative Member of the London Assembly Transport Committee gives some insight to what the Conservative party line looks like in an email to some of his Wandsworth constituents recently:

"Clearly the key is to ensure a balance for all road users. Just as it was important to protect the bridge for cyclists, it is also important to ensure that all traffic flows at a reasonable rate. My fear is that creating a 20mph zone would run the risk of causing excessive congestion on this busy crossing, but I will listen to arguments."

Smoothing the traffic flow in action on a TfL
trunk road. Complete with parked cars, terrifying cycling
conditions.
The fact is that the junction is ALREADY a 20mph zone. What TfL wants to do is increase the speed limit here.

I suspect that Mr Tracey is having to toe the party line in this statement and having not yet met the man, I don't think it's fair to give him too much grief. But I can't help thinking that Mr Tracey's response hints that driving your car fast is equally important as creating a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists? Mr Tracey has four children. I wonder if he'd let them cycle through this junction and whether, when it comes to his own family, if he thinks motor speeds have equal importance to pedestrian crossings and safe crossings for cycles?

I'm beginning to think Transport for London is being handed an agenda by this administration that is simply out of touch with the way the rest of the world is going. Let's compare and contrast:

Place de la Republique, Paris (not too dissimilar to Blackfriars in terms of significance and a horrible car-dominated junction at the momemnt)

Mayor of Paris: "Today, 60% of the square is given over to motor cars. Once the works have been finished, 70% of the square will be dedicated to gentler forms of getting around, namely cycling and walking."

Mayor of Berlin: "Protecting the population against the negative consequences of motor traffic is the long-term goal of the city's traffic strategy".

New York City Department of Transportation street design manual: "Excess width should be reallocated to provide walking, transit, and bicycling facilities"

Conservative Assembly Member, London ""Clearly the key is to ensure a balance for all road users. Just as it was important to protect the bridge for cyclists, it is also important to ensure that all traffic flows at a reasonable rate. My fear is that creating a 20mph zone would run the risk of causing excessive congestion on this busy crossing."

London's Conservatives seem a bit out of touch on transport, don't they?

-----

News just in. See comment below from Jack Thurston of the Bike Show. Two Conservative Assembly Members: "Clearly the key is to ensure a balance for all road users. Just as it was important to protect the bridge for cyclists, it is also important to ensure that all traffic flows at a reasonable rate." Note the exact same phrase as Richard Tracey's response to "ensure a balance for all road users"

This is what a 'balance for all road users' means in practice. See this link or what War on the Motorist has to say here.

9 comments:

  1. "My fear is that creating a 20mph zone would run the risk of causing excessive congestion on this busy crossing"

    The current 20 mph limit is not causing congestion, excessive or otherwise. As you say, no 20 mph limit is going to be 'created'; it is merely going to be maintained.

    I think this needs pointing out to Mr Tracey, whether he is ignorant of this fact, or whether he is choosing to ignore it in order to follow the party line.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A reply to my email, strongly suggests to me that these two Tory AMs will not be supporting the 20mph motion.

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Thank you for your e-mail. We are very pleased that the cross-party
    campaign to persuade TfL to revisit their decision to remove the cycle
    lane from Blackfriars Bridge has been successful. We both believe that
    the new plans represent a far better approach.

    Clearly the key is to ensure a balance for all road users. Just as it
    was important to protect the bridge for cyclists, it is also important
    to ensure that all traffic flows at a reasonable rate.

    However we know this matter is being investigated and discussed by the
    Mayor's office and TfL and I have no doubt they will take your views and
    the views of other motorists into consideration when deciding the speed
    for this route.

    Yours sincerely

    Gareth Bacon AM & Victoria Borwick AM
    Londonwide Assembly Members

    ReplyDelete
  3. ^ I got the same from Gareth Bacon.

    Clearly, the key is to ensure a balance for all road users. Just as it
    was important to protect the bridge for cyclists, it is also important
    to ensure that all traffic flows at a reasonable rate. My view is that
    creating a 20mph zone would run the risk of causing excessive congestion
    on this busy crossing. Furthermore, having been successful in
    persuading TfL that it was possible for Blackfriars Bridge to have a
    cycle lane without reducing traffic flow, I would be wary of undermining
    that argument by pushing for a 20mph limit that would do precisely that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've emailed Andrew Boff, but not heard anything back. As the Mayor's Champion of Cycling and a Hackneyite (where bicycles rule ok) it will be interesting to see which way he votes, or if he abstains.

    I hope the Conservatives don't try and block the motion by waffling on during the prior session - I'd hate for this to run out of time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I contacted Brian Coleman who is my representative (Conservative: Barent and Camden) he was quite dismissive...

    "The speed limit is a matter for tfl not me but I do not support 20mph zones they are unenforceable but anyway traffic cannot get anywhere near that speed at this junction"

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Paul. Maybe point out the stats in this article to Mr Coleman http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.com/2011/03/central-londons-bridges-why-wont-tfl.html

    In the evenings, 85% of motor vehicles doing 39mph here.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sorry, correcting my earlier comment

    85% of motor vehicles are doing 39mph or under in the evening. ie 15% is doing over 39mph. The remiander is still quite likely doing way over 30...

    ReplyDelete
  8. You're wasting your time with Brian Coleman. As the Cycalogical blog has commented, "he makes Philip Hammond look like a lollipop lady."

    This is the man who has removed all cycle lanes from Barnet.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I exchanged several emails with Brian Coleman (including why he thought 20mph speed limits were unenforceable) and pointing out statistics but his replies were curt and explained none of his reasoning.

    ReplyDelete