Wednesday, 27 July 2011

If you care about Blackfriars, go to Critical Mass on Friday at 6pm. TfL is going ahead with its original plan this weekend, completely ignores cyclists. And at London Bridge it's even worse. This Friday's Critical Mass should loop on Blackfriars

Blackfriars - a 24 hour view of the mix of traffic


I posted yesterday how Leon Daniel's, head of London's roads, was saying that cycles will make up only 6% of all users of the junction at the top of Blackfriars Bridge.

What I hadn't seen was this outrageous statement by TfL that had been published earlier this week.

Jenny Jones pointed out in a tweet earlier this week that what this means is TfL is going ahead with its original plans for Blackfriars Bridge. Next week. If she's right, then that means no bike lanes, no safe way to get through the junction, none of the hard-fought but pathetically tiny improvements that TfL had promised.

That's despite the entire London Assembly voting to improve conditions for cycling here. That's despite the Mayor stating that he recognises the need to make cycling safer here.

Cycle of Futility blog may be right.: Either TfL knows something we don't or Transport for London has just stuck two fingers up at the Mayor, the entire London Assembly, the hundreds of cyclists who wrote to consultation, the thousands who signed petitions.

The pie chart above shows the mix of traffic using Blackfriars Bridge across a 24 hour period in 2010 using TfL's own data. Cycles make 16% of the traffic across the whole day. That rises to nearly 36% of the traffic in the morning rush hour. Private cars are 32%, motorbikes 10%, goods vehicles 18%, buses 3%. And taxis a whopping 22%.

I use these figures to contrast some comments made by TfL in its latest press release. TfL claims that "usage by cyclists through this junction is predominantly for travelling to and from work and is therefore concentrated during traditional 'rush hour' periods, particularly in the morning heading northbound and in the afternoon heading southbound." Well, it's true that cycling is particularly high in the rush hour, yes. But cycling is actually 16% across the entire day. Therefore the speeds across this bridge do matter and they matter all day, not just at rush hour.

But let's leave that aside for a moment. 22% of vehicles crossing the Bridge are taxis. TfL's press release implies as loudly possible, without making it absolutely explicit, that because taxi passengers make up a larger percentage of what it calls the 'people' using this junction, they matter more than people on cycles.

The real scandal is that it's happening all over again over at London Bridge. According to the London Cycling Campaign, the main cycle route to the south east is for the chop. Riders will be able to “walk bikes through the 24/7 part of the concourse". Network Rail's representatives told us: “Cyclists will use alternative road routes. These have not been defined. There is no provision to cycle through the new station concourse."

Once again, there's an impossibly tight period (until 5th August) to respond to the planning application.

The thing is, this happens again and again. It seems to me that cycling is simply not even given scant regard by our transport planners. Can you imagine the uproar if a main artery for motor vehicles was simply removed in the way Network Rail intends to remove the link through London Bridge. It simply couldn't happen. Can you imagine anyone at Transport for London believing the Blackfriars scheme would be safe for their kids to use on a cycle?

I think TfL has declared war. In my view it has declared war on the London Assembly; on the Mayor and on people who cycle. The Mayor is proving quite slow at noticing the war on his doorstep, though. So perhaps it's time we took the war to him.

This Friday is Critical Mass, a cycle ride that starts at 6pm from underneath the south side of Waterloo Bridge by the river. For a whole host of reasons, Critical Mass is not normally for me. But this Friday, I'll be there. And I for one hope that Critical Mass decides Blackfriars is a suitable destination, in both directions, all evening long. Because as I've been saying for months, this isn't just about Blackfriars. It's about making our transport authority take cycling seriously.

I hope to see you there.


  1. i wonder how much of london traffic is empty taxis?

    taxis, in any case, are an inefficient, polluting mode of transport.

  2. With respect Anony Mous this is not about taxis empty or full. This is about bicycles. It is a worthwhile venture for all cyclists to be on the critical mass bike ride Friday or nto. AND don't go by taxi. Go by bike! OK?

  3. Anonymous poses a fair question, all the same. According to the City of London Local Implementation Plan, Part 1, from 7am to 6pm there are a steady 1,000 "lights on" taxis, give or take 50 or so each way, cruising the City. Add engaged or "lights off" taxis, whose numbers vary more, the unengaged taxis represent between 20% and 40% of all taxis on the road, averaging about 1/3rd.

    Given the poor record of taxis on pollution (especially PM10s) and the sheer numbers adding to congestion, this is something eth mayor needs to fix, but won't, because he is scared sh*tless of the taxi lobby.

    I can't make CM tomorrow (abroad) but wish it my best. It won't change anything though - anyone have the balls to apply for an injunction? Surely there must be grounds.

  4. Looks like there will be a protest on Monday morning too

  5. London Bridge works also takes out On Your Bike's secure parking... So much for progress! Not sure I can make it (a day that starts at 4 am and involves 50 miles on the bike and a day in the office take sits toll!