Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Blackfriars - This is about cyclists AND pedestrians. Can we actually get TfL to listen for once? There's still time for you to help

Blackfriars junction as it used to be. This is how it will soon look again,
only worse. With thanks to citycyclists.org.uk
UPDATED WEDNESDAY EVENING: TfL postponement and review of the entire scheme in the offing?



I've been so busy getting my head around the whole scandal of the new Blackfriars junction design that I haven't had time to write my own letter to our Assembly Members about it. 


But CycleofFutility has. He wrote to Val Shawcross, the Assembly Member responsible for Southwark and Lambeth, and aspiring mayoral deputy. Val is also chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee. 


I recommend you read CycleofFutility's article in full as there is a lot of relevant detail there. A particular highlight, though, is this nugget:


Val was informed by Richard, that TfL have recognised the concerns from both cyclists and pedestrians about the new scheme. Furthermore, the consultation period has now been extended for concerned individuals to highlight their concerns. Val would like you to know that she will continue to liaise with TfL about this on your behalf and that she will stay involved until she gets the best possible outcome for cyclists and pedestrians .


I don't know yet if that means the whole scheme is under review. Or just the right hand turn mentioned at our meeting with TfL last night. 


Dozens of people have contacted me already to say they've written in to TfL and to the various assembly members already. 


I can only say how humbled I am that people are taking this as seriously as I am. 


I think my motivation comes from the fact that I'm fed up of being treated like a third-class citizen because I choose to use a bicycle for most of my London transport needs. I drive, I tube, I bus, I walk. But most of all, I cycle. Because it's the most sensible way to get around our relatively compact city centre. And I feel that these plans for Blackfriars Bridge are simply not a fair representation of the vast numbers of people who, like me, choose to come to work on bicycles. 


The Londonist website said it far better than I can. Perhaps I'm too polite to use these words myself. But I agree with them wholeheartedly when the Londonist says “PLEASE STOP TRYING TO KILL ME ON BLACKFRIARS BRIDGE


If that means anything to you, then please get involved. It's not about cyclists per se. It's about people who get about on their feet or on two feet-powered wheels. Which is by far the majority of people at this junction. TfL wants to turn this junction into a motorway slip road. The very heart of the City of London will simply revert to a dead-zone, packed with fast-moving cars on motorway-style conditions unless you stand up and make your voice heard. 

Just to recap, I wrote in yesterday's article here about why I think this scheme is so awful. And it's not just about cyclists. It's about anyone who's trying to get around this junction on their own feet.

I think it's bad for pedestrians because:
Although the pavement is a bit wider outside the new station entrance and over the top of the flyover, you'll no longer be able to walk between Watergate and the Black Friar pub. If you work in KPMG's offices or Unilever near Watergate, you'll have to cross in a sort of zig zag over three crossings to get to the pub and the shops. If you come out of the new station and want to get to Watergate, it'll work, however.


And frankly, this is a fairly nasty piece of road to walk around anyhow. It's going to get faster and nastier as a result of this plan. So you'll have to leg it across multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic if you want to get across anywhere other than the new crossings. Or walk along surrounded by the droan of even faster-moving motor traffic. Lovely.


I think it's bad for cycling because:
It adds extra traffic lanes which means cars will almost certainly travel much faster through the junction than they do at present. Whether or not there's a tiny bit less traffic is utterly irrelevant. If there's enough motor traffic here and it has multiple nice wide clear lanes in front of it, it will become like Vauxhall gyratory - a car-dominated race track. Try cycling through that with your 12 year old daughter on the way to visit St Paul's. Or with your dad to visit the Museum of London. Or, frankly, on your way to work on a cycle hire bike.

And now, if Val's email is correct, there's more time to register your views. Which means there is still plenty of time to lobby the Mayor and your assembly members about this. To recap, if you want to register a complaint about this, I suggest you email relevant London Assembly members including john.biggs@london.gov.uk , jenny.jones@london.gov.uk andvalerie.shawcross@london.gov.uk. You could also add the Mayor mayor@london.gov.uk