Major safety improvements are planned for London’s Westminster Bridge and surrounding roads. Plans being consulted on by Transport for London (TfL) feature a new cycle and pedestrian-friendly junction at the bridge’s southern end and include an option for segregated cycle lanes across it.
According to TfL’s 2013 cycle census, almost a third of morning peak-hour traffic on the bridge is bikes. Proposals involve giving cyclists dedicated space and separate cycle signals at junctions, while improvements for pedestrians would include upgraded crossings, clearer footways and a new pedestrian crossing on Westminster Bridge Road.
A new trial 20mph speed limit has also been proposed for the bridge itself, part of Westminster Bridge Road, Addington Street and York Road.
TfL say the improvements would open up safer cycle links from Waterloo station and south London to the new East-West Cycle Superhighway, which is currently under construction, and would also give cyclists a high quality route from Waterloo to Parliament Square, the Embankment, Marble Arch, Paddington, Blackfriars and the City.
The project is part of TfL’s £4bn Road Modernisation Plan and subject to the results of the public consultation, work could begin in summer 2016.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said:
“London is rapidly changing and that is why we are modernising our roads to keep pace with it. We can turn a potentially hazardous junction into a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians by redesigning this area. Our proposed safety improvements would benefit Londoners and commuters of London’s busiest railway station, Waterloo, who would have better walking and cycling links to and from the station.”
Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s cycling commissioner, said the work would ‘vastly improve another of London’s trickiest big junctions.’
“After completion of this scheme, our intention is segregated lanes on Westminster Bridge Road to fill the short quarter-mile gap between it and the North-South Superhighway on St George’s Road. You would then be able to cycle on fully-segregated or traffic-free routes from Paddington, Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner to Elephant and Castle.”
Bridges in the capital have often come in for criticism from campaigners for being particularly dangerous for cyclists. Following the death of Chris Tandy on London Bridge last year, Islington Cycle Action Group’s Chris Casalotti said that he had always dreaded going onto the bridge on the grounds that it featured a narrow road offering no protection to cyclists. “With roads like ours it only takes a small mistake by someone on a cycle before there is a serious accident,” he said.
In 2012, a TfL audit into the safety of the Blackfriars Bridge redesign showed that in spite of a sustained protest by cycle campaigners in the city, the new road layout was dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. Over £2m had been spent on making the junction at the north end of the bridge flow differently.