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Cycle route includes three redesigned bus stop bypasses formerly threatened with judicial review by Guys & St Thomas' Foundation Trust over safety fears...

Work starts next week on a protected cycle route across Westminster Bridge, which includes three bus stop bypasses formerly threatened by Guy's and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust over safety fears.

Transport for London and St Thomas appear to have come to a compromise over the bus stop bypasses, with the addition of zebra crossings on the cycle tracks to help allay hospital trust staff fears over patient safety, after which the Trust dropped its Judicial Review claim.

The route, which is expected to open early 2018, will include a 1.8m wide protected bike lane linking Waterloo Station with the East-West Cycle Superhighway, and includes the remodelling of the south-side junction of the bridge, with improved pedestrian crossings, new pavements, trees, bike parking and benches. 

Work starts on 29 March and Transport for London says it will minimise disruption during construction. Campaigners, however, have raised concerns about delays to the scheme, which was given the green light a year ago following 74 per cent consultation approval.

NHS trust accused of spending £10,000 blocking cycle route

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “It’s great news that work is about to start to transform walking and cycling facilities at Westminster Bridge. These improvements are going to make a real difference in the area, ensuring the iconic bridge is safer and more pleasant to use.”

“We’ve also been looking carefully at the disruption caused by the construction of previous schemes and I can ensure all road users that we will be working hard to ensure that this is kept to an absolute minimum.”

Transport for London (TfL) says disruption will be mitigated with longer working hours, and the use of new technology allowing integration of temporary traffic signals to the central command, which can react to traffic flows 24 hours a day. 

In a concession to St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, who said they had “serious concerns” of the potential risks to patients, three bus stop bypasses on Westminster Bridge will now feature zebra crossings, with the pedestrian crossing width doubled at these locations to six metres to reflect the 'special features of their location outside a busy hospital'.

Westminster Bridge South

Westminster Bridge South

TfL's plans for Westminster Bridge. Want a closer look? Here's a much bigger version.

Although cycle campaigners welcome the news, there remain concerns over delays: the scheme was given the green light by former London mayor, Boris Johnson, in March 2016 after receiving 74 per cent support in a consultation, and construction work was originally scheduled for Autumn 2016.

Simon Munk, the London Cycling Campaign’s Infrastructure Campaigner, told road.cc: “We welcome the news this scheme is finally moving forward. Obviously we’re concerned about the length of time it took for this scheme to be approved for construction and the proposed length of construction – it’ll mean Will Norman and the rest of the Mayoral team will need to get a shift on with other schemes, to fulfil the Mayor’s Sign for Cycling pledges to the London Cycling Campaign.

“We’re also pleased the trust has rescinded its threat of legal action. The evidence coming out of TfL is ‘bus stop bypasses’ don’t cause big conflicts between pedestrians, bus users and people cycling. We’re waiting on the results of TfL’s trials on design of these, but putting a raised table and zebra crossing across them seems a fairly sensible way to indicate that cyclists should give way to pedestrians at these, particularly in locations like this – directly outside of a hospital.”

Westminster Bridge will become the fourth bridge in Central London to feature protected cycle lanes, and protected routes will continue onto roads connecting to the south-side junction, where new separate cycle signals will be introduced.

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said the plans will open up the Waterloo area for pedestrians, while linking with London’s growing cycling network.

He said: “We have planned the work to minimise disruption, but there will be some impact. We thank road users for bearing with us while work takes place and are asking them to plan and leave more time for journeys in the area, and if possible, use alternative routes.”

The plans are part of Sadiq Khan’s strategy to tackle congestion in London, and encourage more people to walk, cycle and use public transport for everyday journeys.

 

6 comments

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HarrogateSpa [505 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes

This is good news, even if there have been delays.

I can't bear the bland, meaningless, PR waffle which is all I've heard from Will Norman so far. We'd like to assure all customers that we are striving to keep disruption to a minumum bla bla bla. Awful. I really hope he surprises me by being effective, and getting stuff done, not just talking in anodyne clichés to the media.

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NOC40 [37 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes

It really isn't good news. Traffic over and around the bridge will be terrible for weeks while the work goes on.

We're spending millions, when simply banning all but bikes from the bus lanes (or maybe just allowing buses and bike; can't remember the exact rules on this bit, i think taxis are allowed in) would have achieved much the same thing.

The east ("south" here for some reason) bound route will be incredibly dangerous to cycle on. Pedestrians routinely step into the road on this side, and with a narrow lane with a hard side to the road side there will be nowhere to escape to. I won't use that lane: I'll be on the road, especially as the second half slopes downwards so you can be going quite fast quite easily.

The westbound ("north") lane will also be more dangerous as you'll now got pedestrians crossing without looking after getting off their buses.

Plus it's going to be much slower to cycle across the bridge with all the extra zebras now. Westbound turning right onto Whitehall is already messed up thanks to either all the extra red lights cyclists now get caught at with the phasing, or the near-stationary traffic on the road (quicker than the lights, but still slower than before).

Plus the lanes are a little too narrow to overtake safely a lot of the time.

So I ask, if you're not on a boris bike or you're a child, how is this new layout going to help anyone? It won't help commuters.

Clearly I'm in the minority as I voted against it. But what do those in favour see in it?

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Al__S [1278 posts] 10 months ago
5 likes

I hate cycling in bus lanes, even without taxis. I hate the looming feeling of 13 tonnes of bus driven a driver under idiotic performance pressure bearing down on you from behind. Unless you're doing 20mph+ you're always, especially on a busy bus route in central London, going to have buses trying to pass you (often just before they stop)- really not ideal for all-ages and abilities cycling. Cyle facilities should be for all, not just the brave and fast.

 

That said, the layout they've gone for with Westminster Bridge is bad. They should have gone for a single 3.6m (ie the two 1.8m lanes) (or slightly wider) bi-directional cycleway on the south (upstream) side- ie where CS3 is on Bridge Street leading into Parliament Square. This could connect to a "south bank super highway" along Albert Embankment, Lambeth Palace Road and York Road, and from the bridge extend along Westminster Bridge Road through Borough Road to Borough High Street.

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DaveE128 [970 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes

Looks like a general improvement but there are a few bits that worry me. I can see buses cutting across the un-protected cycle lane when pulling into Bus Stop C. The design could easily be improved to eliminate this. Getting into the cycle lane around buses stopped at bus stop G could be a bit scary but I'm not sure how this could be improved.

While it may not be what fast cycle commuters might hope for, I hope it will help increase the culture of cycling in London.

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a1white [73 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes
Al__S wrote:

I hate cycling in bus lanes, even without taxis. I hate the looming feeling of 13 tonnes of bus driven a driver under idiotic performance pressure bearing down on you from behind. Unless you're doing 20mph+ you're always, especially on a busy bus route in central London, going to have buses trying to pass you (often just before they stop)- really not ideal for all-ages and abilities cycling. Cyle facilities should be for all, not just the brave and fast.

 

This totally. While many visitors to this website feel confident enough to mix it up with Londons rush hour traffic, many of us don't and would rather have the protection that this kind of infrastructure offers. You only need look at the incredible success of the Blackfriars bridge cycle lane to see this is what helps get people on bikes. Just a shame this is so delayed and not much else on the horizon.

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thesaladdays [125 posts] 10 months ago
4 likes
NOC40 wrote:

We're spending millions, when simply banning all but bikes from the bus lanes (or maybe just allowing buses and bike; can't remember the exact rules on this bit, i think taxis are allowed in) would have achieved much the same thing.

Almost invariably there's an ice cream van parked in the bus lane on the bridge for much of the year, so not sure that banning is all that effective if not enforced, which it probably wouldn't be.

I personally don't mind mixing in traffic, but appreciate it can be intimidating for many and discourages people from cycling.  Any investment which encourages cycling and discourages driving (I'd including using taxis in that category) is a positive result.

Also, good to see a move away from the two-way concept and have lanes on either side of the road, far more intuitive for all.