Black cab drivers have this evening blocked London Bridge for the fourth time this week in protest at plans to stop them using bus lanes on Tooley Street. The protest has caused bus routes to be diverted and gridlock on both sides of the river – but happily, cyclists are breezing through the blockade.
Writing on the London Cycling public group on Facebook yesterday, John Coupe said: “I walked past the cabbie protest last night at about 6:15. If I hadn't known it was a protest I wouldn't have known.
“It didn't take many of them to block Tooley Street and it looked like people on bikes were passing freely. It really demonstrated how much better the environment can be when traffic is removed via a modal filter.”
The proposals for Tooley Street are subject to a consultation being held by transport for London (TfL) which runs until 9 January.
TfL’s director of strategy and network development, Ben Plowden, commented: “A consultation is currently underway on changes to Tooley Street to improve conditions for people walking and cycling, or travelling by public transport.
“The best way for people to let us know what they think about these proposals is to respond to the consultation, so this type of protest is unnecessary.
“All feedback on our proposals will be thoroughly assessed and taken into account.”
The cab drivers’ protest comes in a week in which a rather opaque pressure group called Unblock the Embankment, whose backers are known to include representatives of the black cab trade, claimed that the East-West Cycle Superhighway was costing east London businesses £5.3 million a year, as reported by BBC News.
The group says that the route causes congestion and pollution – both claims that have been comprehensively debunked – and London’s cycling and walking commissioner, Will Norman, insisted that the cycle route is here to stay.
He told BBC News: “We know that having walking and cycling facilities encourage footfall to our high street shops, but we also know it's absolutely critical to the continued investment and retention of big business to our city because the workforce want to walk and cycle more."
Should you head to the website unblocktheembankment.org.uk, you’ll find a rather different attitude towards cycle lanes than that on their Twitter feed – explained by the fact that they didn’t register the domain, so cycling author Carlton Reid did so instead. Oops.
Transport for London (TfL), meanwhile, has responded to a Freedom of Information request by Mark Treasure, chair of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, asking for details of a meeting between TfL and Unblock the Embankment. You can find TfL’s response here.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.