Wednesday, 14 September 2011

TfL responds to Cyclist Dismount sign on Blackfriars revealing a cavernous difference in attitude to another London highway authority. No wonder cycling in London is so rubbish on the roads controlled by the Mayor

TfL tells cyclists to dismount on its roads. Where should
I go exactly? Should I walk down the middle of the road?
A few weeks ago I posted a piece headlined "TfL tells 36% of rush-hour traffic to dismount and walk at Blackfriars".

Here's a picture of the offending signpost.

The point of my article was pretty obvious to anyone to has ever used a cycle to get about on London's roads. The message was three-fold:

a) As the Department for Transport guidelines state quite clearly "Where access is permitted for motor vehicles, "Cyclist Dismount" signs should not be used. The hazards to cyclists at roadworks are rarely great enough to justify this measure. In any case, cyclists are likely to ignore such instructions."

b) Using simple common sense, if you dismount here, in the middle of the carriageway, where exactly are you supposed to go? Are you supposed to walk along the carriageway? 

c) I'm fed up of being treated with a complete lack of understanding by the Mayor's transport authority (TfL) on TfL roads, where it is increasingly obvious to me that TfL thinks that roads are infrastructure for motor vehicles alone. 

A reader of this blog sent an email to Transport for London asking why the signs are there in the first place. And the response is almost beyond belief. TfL's official response states that the message contained in my earlier blog post is incorrect. For the reason that the signs are not there at rush-hour, only between 10am-4pm. So, I stand corrected. If you are a person using a cycle, you are expected to dismount right here, in the middle of the road. But only between 10am-4pm. 

Compare and contrast. City of London tells motor users to
take responsibility

The wording of the sign is a bit odd but compare the City of London with Transport for London. The Square Mile has signs that seek to make drivers aware of their responsibilities behind the wheel.  

Transport for London's response is copied in full below. In my opinion, this couldn't be further from the common sense approach of the City of London if it tried. Rather than educate road users and ask them to treat each other with respect, the TfL response suggests that it is more interested in making pedantic points about when rush hour does or doesn't start and utterly fails to engage with any of the reasons why people who cycle do not deserve to be instructed to get off their cycles and push. 

These two signs reveal quite glaringly just how the TfL machine fails to get to grips with the people using its roads on cycles and how successfully other transport authorities are trying to engage with people who cycle. 


TfL response to Cyclist Dismount signs. Don't blame the individual. Blame TfL.

Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2011 16:03:53 +0100
From: TfL
Thank you for your email. We've investigated and I'm now in a position to reply. 
The information contained in the Cyclists in the City blog is incorrect - the signs requesting that cyclists dismount are present only from 10am
- 4pm.. You may recall that the very great majority of cyclists pass through the junction during the peak hours, so would not be affected by this at all. It is necessary to request that cyclists dismount between the peaks as our works at these times take in a greater proportion of the carriageway at these times. This narrows the space available for vehicles and cyclists to share beyond the point that can be safely accommodated. We ask that cyclists dismount in order to ensure that they can safely pass through the area affected.
I hope this is useful but if you have any questions please let me know,
Andrew Miles I Government Relationship Manager
Transport for London


  1. So basically they're saying the road is wide enough for cars, but not wide enough for bicycles. I'm almost tempted to go see such twist of laws of physics myself.

    Am I to understand that on every other road that is as narrow as Blackfriars bridge cyclists are expected to dismount too, but TfL just haven't gotten around to put the signs in place?

    Oh, and apparently cyclists (or bicycles) are not vehicles anymore.

    Who needs TV when you have TfL providing entertainment.

  2. So they are say roads are for cars and not for people? What a truly stupid attitude!

  3. We had a similar problem on a bridge in Southampton. They used the red version which many thought were obligatory and caused no end of problems for cyclists (those in cleats find it difficult to walk, those who rode in the road got close passing for their bother, and those that did walk it had to struggle through the narrow pedestrian bollard confined sections. Not easy when you've got to navigate the 20 feet bollard section and a pram/mother wants to get through).

    The council caved in and removed the signs after the local campaign had a meeting with them.

  4. Other boroughs are capable of making concessions for cyclists as well - around the Leyton end of the Olympic works on Eastway there's extra signs warning drivers of cyclists (good old-fashioned warning triangles with a cycle in them), and a protected space within the roadworks for cyclists and pedestrians, should cyclists want to use it.

    How TfL thinks responses Like the one above help them meet the "for London" part of their name beats me.

  5. TFL are saying the problem is that the carriageway is narrowed when they work in off-peak hours and therefore cyclists should dismount then. However by asking cyclists to dismount, they are increasing the width of the cyclist + bike making less room for cars.

  6. As idiotic as the sign is, even more so the timing inferred, it's not compulsory. It can (should) be ignored and there is nothing that the police or TfL can do about it. And as responsible cyclists caring for our own safety, we would off course ride in the centre of the carriageway taking up about the same space as a car...

  7. Surely it would be better if there was a no overtaking cyclists/single file policy to protect EVERYBODY.