TfL has announced by email to the 560 respondents that the ‘engagement’ on the Blackfriars Bridge design has concluded that new plans are needed. These are now available to see online and make significant concessions to road safety campaigners.
On a second look it was possible to keep the cycle lane that was at risk, without causing gridlock, by slightly altering the pavement and junction design. A right turn onto the bridge will be made possible by bikes (via a convoluted, but safe, route) but the Watermark Street pedestrian crossing can’t be maintained because of the traffic’s ever hungry need for ‘stacking’ space (though the subway will be retained). They also reject a call for a 20mph limit as cars will already be going slowly because of the traffic lights (which would suggest that a 20mph limit would do no harm). Another plus is the removal from the plans of unmarked 'shared space' areas, forcing cyclists to take to the pavement to the wrath of pedestrians.
TfL’s letter to stakeholders is galling reading to the people that dragged them into this exercise like an obstinate toddler. They write that they think the new scheme is 'an improvement', and that they are 'grateful for the input', but omit to say that they didn't want to change it or think ask for any - it was insisted upon. Without individual campaigners, cycling in the city (who have done their own excellent analysis), the LCC (who are still furious) and local bodies, the cycling and London media, and the generous time and support of Assembly Members from all parties, Jenny Jones AM and Val Shawcross AM most of all, this would not have happened.
And as others have pointed out, this is a defensive victory - TfL have stopped handing more road space to cars, and maintained what already existed, but a breakthrough this is not. Most worryingly the TfL statement measures everything in congestion - nothing that makes congestion one car worse is acceptable, no matter what the benefits to other users.
The big issue here is that it should not be necessary to involve members of the London Assembly in individual junction design. There needs to be a clear policy set at City Hall and TfL needs to implement that policy in a consistent and open way. Sadly the Mayor is far from clear about what he wants (‘smoothing traffic’ and a ‘cycling revolution’ are not natural bed fellows) and TfL have not been voluntarily open in this case.
What we need is a London Plan that gives proper priority to cycling and walking, but as the Government Inspectors pointed out, what we have now does not.