Vigorous objections and petitioning by London cyclists have led Transport for London (TfL) to further revise its plan for the road layout around the re-development of Blackfriar's Bridge. However the London Cycling Campaign remains unimpressed and says the new proposals will "condemn Londoners to continue cycling through a 'motorway' in order to cross the river, potentially for decades to come."
Commenting on the revised Blackfriars plan the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I am very pleased that TfL has taken the feedback from cyclists who use this junction into account and used their comments to deliver the best scheme possible. The changes they have made support my desire to improve the facilities for cyclists right across the Capital.”
In it's response to the changes the LCC points out that TfL intends to raise the speed limit on and around the bridge from the current 20mph to 30mph a move which contradicts TfL's own recommendations for speed limits on London's bridges – a 2008 TfL report recommended that speed limit on bridges over the Thames be set at 20mph to save lives.
In a statement on its website LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said, "Transport for London has made some welcome improvements, such as reinstating the southbound cycle lane, but this is still the kind of junction you'd expect on a motorway.
"The mayor says he wants a cyclised city, so he must tell TfL that this kind of lethal junction must become a relic of the past.
“One-third of vehicles using this bridge at peak times are bicycles, and the mayor says he wants this figure to grow – however, the new design from TfL will frustrate this ambition."
“LCC is demanding that the current 20mph speed limit be retained, which would massively reduce road danger if it's properly enforced.
“The choice for cyclists shouldn’t be to navigate through a dangerous junction or take a boat.”
At the root of the controversy was the planned removal of a section of cycle lane from the northbound approach to Blackfriars Bridge in a bid to increase the width of the pavement as well as making the road three lanes rather than the existing two in part facilitated by the removal of the southbound cycle lane outside Blackfriars Station which helps cyclists get on to the bridge. Objectors pointed out that the third lane would be dangerously narrow, thereby not only removing the relative safety of the cycle lane, but also plunging two-wheeled traffic into even more danger by forcing cars to pass closer to the kerb.
TfL says he changes to the road system are needed as part of the renovations of Blackfriar's Station, which is due to reopen later this year, and which is expected to generate huge amounts more pedestrian traffic, hence the broadening of the pavement area. Critics say that TfL is putting the movement of motorised traffic ahead of the interests of cyclists and the thousands of pedestrian that use the station.
Under TfL's new plans, the Southbound cycle lane will be reinstated at a width of 1.5m, made possible by trimming 0.5m off the pavement and re-structuring the road back to two lanes rather than the expanded three. In addition, the Northbound cycle lane will be widened from 1.5m to 2m. Here the extra space has been 'claimed' from erosion of a traffic island on the opposite side of the carriageway.
The cycle lane was originally put in place after the deaths of two cyclists in this area in the course of just 15 months around 2004.
One of the other causes for concern in the original plans was the provision of a cycle friendly right turn from Victoria Embankment onto Blackfriar's Bridge. TfL's new plan will use a dropped curb onto the western footway to assist cyclists in exiting the carriageway on New Bridge Street. The new route will then take them through the tear-drop island to exit onto the Southbound carriageway.
The LCC says that instead of a complex, dangerous and highly offputting right turn option there should be a more cycle friendly double t-junction, according to LCC "the kind of safer design that people deserve in an urban area where many people cycle and walk."