Friday, 25 March 2011

Val Shawcross and John Biggs absolutely 'get it': Blackfriars Bridge is being handed over to a motorway design instead of being made safe to cycle and walk across

Below is a copy of the letter sent yesterday by Labour Assembly Members Val Shawcross and John Biggs to Transport for London about its proposed changes to the junction on the north side of Blackfriars Bridge. This representation is in addition to correspondence from Jenny Jones, Green Assembly Member.

Sent via email:

Dear Mr Hall,

The Blackfriars Bridge Consultation

We are writing in our capacity as elected London Assembly Members in response to the Blackfriars Bridge scheme proposed by Transport for London (TfL). John Biggs represents the City of London, including the consultation area. \/al Shawcross represents Southwark, from which Blackfriars Bridge crosses the Thames, and is a lead Assembly Member on Transport issues. We have both received extensive correspondence on the matter.

Having fully discussed this at length with both TfL and concerned members of the public we are fully aware of the need to have a scheme in place when the new station opens. However we are equally aware of the urgent need for some parts of this proposal to be reviewed and appropriate changes made.

We appreciate the fact that Blackfriars Bridge Station will attract many more pedestrians; up to 10,000 pedestrians per hour would be using this station. We agree that it is important that pedestrians are accommodated within the plans. However to do so entirely at a cost to cyclists is completely unsupportable.

We are also very grateful for the opportunity to comment on the proposals as they will affect many individuals, in particular cyclists. We are concerned to see that TfL are referring to data on cyclist numbers dating from 2007. We do not believe consideration has been given to the increase in individuals using cycling as a mode of transport. This upward trend is set to continue and our personal observation at the bridge confirms that the number of cyclists using the bridge has grown dramatically over the last three years.

You will be aware by now from our meetings with you that we share a number of the cyclists’ concerns about the impact the proposals will have at Blackfriars Bridge and we would like TfL to seek solutions to our concerns listed below.

(1)The loss of cycle lane adjacent to the main entrance of Blackfriars Bridge

We understand that TfL are planning to remove the existing cycle lane to facilitate a wider pavement and to add a third car lane. We are fully aware that there is a capacity issue on the Bridge and that the Mayor would like to ease the flow of traffic. However, we feel that in light of the Mayor’s pledge to encourage people to cycle that the removal of the cycle lane is a backwards step and cannot be supported.

(2)We urge TfL to look at limiting the speed limit to 20mph on the Blackfriars Bridge and throughout the junction

We support a reduction of the speed limit to 20mph and believe that this would significantly reduce the number of collisions. This is not simply a significant safety issue but would reduce the delays and congestion arising from accidents.

(3) Decline in cycle safety

We are concerned about the overall safety of cyclists in the proposed scheme. We feel the implementation of the three car lane would greatly increase the risk for cyclists making a right turn into Queen Victoria Street. We are also concerned about the width of the cycle lanes on the Northbound stretch coming off the bridge, which is to be narrowed tol .5m. This may be a statutory legal minimum width but the volume of cyclists at these locations demands better facilities and more space to be given over to cycling. Cyclists are already too bunched and overcrowded at this location.

(4) Teardrop on Blackfriars Bridge

We recommend that TfL considers using the teardrop on Blackfriars Bridge to increase the road space available in the scheme - and therefore add back in cycling facilities. This would in our view, and that of many of our constituents, improve cyclist safety and reduce the risk of accidents.

Finally we are concerned that there is no plan to replace the pedestrian facilities crossing east west over New Bridge Street. We believe that there is already a strong pedestrian desire line at this location and it is a serious mistake to ignore the demand for safe crossing facilities here.

We urge TfL to look into our recommendations. We feel that if the current proposals made by TfL remain unchanged, Blackfriars Bridge will become very unsafe for cyclists.

Yours sincerely

Valerie Shawcross AM Lambeth and Southwark

John Biggs AM City and East

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