Blackfriars Bridge — once home to the infamous and twice fatal cycle lane of death — has for bike users been a relative bright spot in the Thameslink upgrade disruption. Since the work got going at the station, a rather lovely 2.5m wide, smoothly surfaced and clearly marked compulsory cycle lane has guided riders from the stressful city streets, through the junction, onto the bridge and sped them safely to the wider roads of SE1. Sadly it has emerged that this is apparently not a permanent fixture.
TfL proposes to add a second general traffic lane through the junction southbound, removing the cycle lane from that most-needed stretch. Other hideous features include a shared area where pedestrians and cyclists unhappily mix for no necessary reason and a cycle right-turn area disguised and hidden from the view of oncoming traffic (see Cyclists in the City for a calmer, more detailed analysis).
35.6% of Blackfriars commuter traffic (northbound, mornings) is on bicycles. This is a triumph of the practicality of cycling in London in spite of the lacklustre efforts by the City and the Mayor to make genuine provision to safely commute across the river.
Crossing the bridges is one of the most dangerous parts of any trans-Thames cycle-journey; cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians converge and jostle for bridge space while those with engines enjoy the one stretch of their trip where they can accelerate meaningfully. If the bridges are bad, getting onto them is the greater obstacle with the gyratory junctions and one way systems that dominate most of the bridge approaches. Glancing at the maps of London’s cycling accidents you can see the clusters around those killer junctions — including the northern Blackfriars approach.
TfL have neglected to inform anyone, so far as we can tell (hint — press releases — we read them), but there is actually a comment period on the plans (which we couldn’t find anywhere online*) that ends on Wednesday. We’re indebted to the good people at Southwark Cyclists and Cyclists in the City for drawing this to our attention; check out their report and if you’d like to add a contribution to this furtive consultation please email Jamila.Barrett@tfl.gov.uk with the subject line “PLEASE STOP TRYING TO KILL ME ON BLACKFRIARS BRIDGE” (other subject lines are, of course, fine).
*We asked TfL for the plans and their explanation of why this is a good idea, but they’ve not got back to us. We will update this post with their response.