Blackfriars Bridge redesign audit shows it's MORE dangerous to cycle over

Audit reveals increased potential for conflict between cars, pedestrians and cyclists

by Sarah Barth   November 11, 2012  

Blackfriars Bridge - pic credit Cyclists In The City

A Transport for London audit into the safety of the Blackfriars Bridge redesign has shown that in spite of a sustained protest by cycle campaigners in the city, the new road layout is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.

Despite spending over £2 million making the junction at the north end of the bridge flow differently, TfL's independent auditors have said what campaigners said all along - that it must now be adjusted to reduce the risk for people on foot and two wheels.

Danny Williams, from Cyclists In The City, a campaign blog set up in response to the Blackfriars plans, told Road.cc: "More than a third of the traffic at rush hour is people on bikes.

"Thousands of people turned out to protest and tell TfL that its design would make the junction more dangerous to cycle through and harder to cross the road. Even Boris Johnson admitted to the London Assembly that more work needs to be done to make this junction safe for people. But TfL wouldn't listen.

"Now even TfL's independent road safety auditors say the new design dangerously increases conflict between people cycling and people driving.

"They also are also saying TfL must reinstate the pedestrian crossing that was removed over the winter so people can cross in safety instead of jogging across two lanes around a blind corner.

"These are exactly the same points that concerned people before the new scheme went in earlier this year.

"TfL needs to review this junction from scratch and get things right this time for the vast majority of people who need to cross this junction on foot and on bikes."

The audit report said:

"he Audit Team are concerned that the mandatory cycle lanes guide cyclists to the left of the carriageway without any clear route towards Queen Victoria Street.

This results in users performing various manoeuvres including crossing three lanes of traffic within a very short section in which other traffic is often changing lanes, increasing the risk of side-swipe type collisions between cyclists and other traffic.

Cyclists performing this manoeuvre also ignored the stop lines and crossing facilities in order to ‘beat traffic’. The potential for conflict between cyclists and other traffic is perceived to be significant.

These findings are similar to those of the London Cycling Campaign, who produced this graphic:

 

It's not clear why TfL has done such a bad job on the Blackfriars redesign - just up the road Crossrail have done the right thing by cyclists in Farringdon by creating a direct cycle path that allows riders to avoid the main traffic diversions.

The audit concludes that at Blackfriars, Transport for London must (among other things):

a) Provide additional facilities to enable cyclists to access Queen Victoria Street safely
b) Provide additional facilities to enable cyclists to access Victoria Embankment safely.
c) Ensure that provision of pedestrian facilities encourages users to safely cross [New Bridge Street, where the pedestrian crossing has been removed].
d)  Clarify the layout at the entry to Queen Victoria Street (where the road is so narrow that cars often enter on the wrong side of the street or try to overtake cyclists, realise they can't and then swerve either into pedestrians or into cyclists).

And as Cyclists In The City point out: "Each of these points was raised by the London Cycling Campaign, by bloggers and by the thousands of people who turned up to protest."

7 user comments

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"... But TfL wouldn't listen. ..." Now there's a surprise !

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [664 posts]
11th November 2012 - 10:03

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Never mind, as long as we're "smoothing the flow of London's traffic".

Except foot traffic.
Or bicycle traffic.
Or bus traffic.

I still don't get it - why did anyone ever vote for Boris?

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
11th November 2012 - 11:18

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The right turn in to Queen Victoria Street is a detail of the most crass incompetence. The turning traffic faces straight on to the oncoming traffic which has to turn left, such that either an East-bound vehicle drives up on the right hand side of the central median or a westbound vehicle goes through the gap into the Northbound flow off the Bridge.

It amazes me that we have had no report of any vehicles actually doing this, especially at quieter times of day.

A similar detail existed on Eastway where the additional Eastbound traffic was shoehorned in to that fatally flawed access to the A12 from the Olympic media centre. Heading East only miniscule No Entry roundels were placed on the original line of the road to warn against driving head on in to the traffic coming off the A12 slip road. I could barely believe what I saw and photographed. Twice I had to assert my presence, and negotiate road space with coach drivers in under 10 minutes, and I had at least 2 dangerously close squeezes through the poor road layout and compromised lane widths. Two weeks later a cyclist was killed.

To the South cyclists are sorting the issue where TfL has failed - twice - and ride over the Bow flyover (70% of cycle traffic goes this way - more than those travelling in cars at times).

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [468 posts]
11th November 2012 - 11:55

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The new layout was fairly toxic for pedestrians as well.

During the construction of the new Blackfriars station, a light-controlled pedestrian crossing was laid down to cross new Bridge Street at the junction with Queen Victoria Street. This in effect replaced the underpass which used to cross the road and provide access to the station and underground. In any case, for as long as I can remember (back to 1988) pedestrians used to cross at street level along what was clearly a significant "desire line". The underpass was always quite horrid, and anyone with a slight disability would avoid the stairs as far as possible.

As soon as the station work was complete, the crossing was removed. Like many others, I protested this. the TfL response was (a) pedestrians could get to the other side of New Bridge St by crossing to the station, and then back on the other side, in effect going around 3 quadrants of a circle instead of across one, and (b) they decided to re-open the underpass, which had been planned for permanent closure as the entrance to the underground would now be at street level. This was an unsatisfactory response as I had already commented on the obstacles this placed in the way of elderly or disabled pedestrians, wheelchair users etc.

I raised the matter at the Wardmote (annual meeting) of the local City council ward, Castle Baynard, where I am on the electoral roll. The councillors replied that it was not really viable for them to take the matter up with TfL immediately as TfL would expect them to wait and see how it worked out for a while first.

The safety report has apparently been discussed at the Streets & Walkways Committee, where members were less than happy about how this has turned out. Hopefully the City will now bring what influence it has to bear to get the crossing reinstated.

posted by Paul M [305 posts]
11th November 2012 - 23:18

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Paul M wrote:
the TfL response was (a) pedestrians could get to the other side of New Bridge St by crossing to the station, and then back on the other side, in effect going around 3 quadrants of a circle instead of across one,

This is standard practice among road "engineers". They care just as little for pedestrians' safety and convenience as they do for cyclists'.

It doesn't seem to occur to them that, if people are walking aross the road to get from A to B, the sensible place to put a crossing is between A and B, not via C, D, E and F.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
12th November 2012 - 9:55

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JohnS wrote:
Paul M wrote:
the TfL response was (a) pedestrians could get to the other side of New Bridge St by crossing to the station, and then back on the other side, in effect going around 3 quadrants of a circle instead of across one,

This is standard practice among road "engineers". They care just as little for pedestrians' safety and convenience as they do for cyclists'.

It has been shown that TfL told consultants who were analysing junctions, to ignore pedestrians and cyclists even though, in the case of Kings Cross, they were the largest group suffering KSI's. [source: http://kingscrossenvironment.com/2012/03/05/buchananreport/ ]

LCC reported that TfL ignored them about concerns with Bow roundabout and 2 cyclists were killed within a short time of each other.

The Olympic park junction where Dan Harris was killed was also marked out by LCC as a danger zone yet ignored.

Its emerging that safety audits carried out show that TfL's work carried out at junctions puts people at risk.

What needs to happen is that TfL faces accountability and are prosecuted under corporate manslaughter charges. Those engineers involved in the design of those junctions (and their managers that signed it off) are sacked and full accountability to the London Assembly is created so those at TfL can be hauled in front of our elected representatives at any time.

posted by zanf [418 posts]
12th November 2012 - 12:29

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The junction was bad enough before, but the redesign is worse.
I cross Blackfriars bridge and turn into Queen Victoria St most days on my commute. I have to get across to the right hand lane half way across the bridge to ensure I can turn.
The ASL at the north end o the bridge is normally full of motorbikes and the feeder lane is so full of cyclists they get marooned to the left of traffic which may be turning left.
The removed pedestrain crossings and very short green man phases on the other lights mean you get pedestrians scuttling across the road when you don't expect it.
If you are turing out of Queen Victoria St towards the Embankment the lane that looks straight ahead is actually oncoming traffic.

The LCC suggested redesign would be so much better for everyone. I hope TfL take note this time.

posted by thereverent [295 posts]
12th November 2012 - 13:11

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