An alternative vision for the controversial re-development around Blackfriars Station has been unveiled by the London Cycling Campaign as it bids to keep up the pressure on London's politicians and TfL, campaigners will also be hosting a flash ride (and walk) on Blackfriars Bridge tomorrow to which they aim to attract 1000 cyclists and pedestrians.
Under the LCC's radically different street layout, put together by a design team headed by urban planner, Richard Lewis, there would be protected cycle lanes, wider pavements for pedestrianc, cycle specific traffic lights and safe turns, plus convenient crossing points for pedestrians. An extra 750 square metres of public space outside the Unilever building would also be opened up for recreational purposes. The advantage of their plan says the LCC is that it removes possible cyclist/vehicle conflict, and the need for right turning cyclists to cross lanes of fast moving traffic as proposed by the TfL plan which also squeezes cyclists in to much narrower, unprotected cycle lanes.
“Our layout is based on continental principles, which eliminate junction conflicts that put cyclists at risk," say Richard Lewis explaining the thinking behind the design. Indeed anyone who has been to a large Dutch city like Rotterdam will immediately recognise this type of road layout based on double T-junction design - an approach rejected by TfL at an early stage of the official design process.
And the price tag? Well, the LCC estimate that their plan would add 1 per cent to the overall cost of the Blackfriars redevelopment, however it may well be that it adds significantly more than 1 per cent to TfL's share of the overall £550m cost which might explain it's failure to get beyond the early part of the official design process.
Set against that is the likelihood that the LCC plan would save lives and avoid serious injuries to cyclists and pedestrians – all of which, if pounds, shillings, and pence are to be the determining factor have an economic cost too. Two cyclists have died on Blackfriars Bridge in recent years leading to the introduction of safety measures and a reduction in the speed limit to 20mph.
Much of those gains will be lost under the TfL plan which amongst other things raises the speed limit on the bridge back up to 30mph in the interests of keeping motorised traffic moving freely, but say campaigners at significant risk to the safety of cyclists who now make up a significant proportion of rush hour traffic over the bridge. Indeed the TfL Blackfriars plan goes against the recommendations of a 2008 TfL report which says that the speed limits on London's bridges should be 20mph – a report it is claimed that London Mayor Boris Johnson hadn't read when he authorised raising the limit.
LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha says that with their plan for Blackrfiars the organisation hopes to "stimulate debate among cyclists, pedestrians and city planners, so together we can come up with a solution that’s fit for all Londoners." On the same day TfL Commissioner, Peter Hendy called for a "century of cycling" in a speech to the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport of which he is president… so maybe there is still a diaglogue to be had with TfL on this one.
Details for tomorrow's LCC Blackfriars flashride: Start time 5.45pm cyclists assemble outside Doggetts Pub at the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge. For more details visit the LCC website www.lcc.org.uk
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.