Cyclists on the Bridge

Picture this, it’s 8.30am on Friday the 20th of May and the pavement on the south to north bound side of the bridge is full of cyclists. Cyclists which were called to this location by the LCC and campaigners less than 24 hours ago.

The result was nearly 300 cyclists cycling over the bridge each way as slow as possible. By my Garmin device, we travelled 0.83 miles in 14 minutes and 30 seconds. That gives us an average speed of 3.4mph.

We stopped outside of the TFL building on Blackfriars road, only a stones throw away from the bridge, to voice our concerns to them in person but they didn’t want to talk. I suspect because we caught them off guard, I heard that they didn’t even know we where coming.

All in all it was a good ride and we only had a few minor issues with motorcyclist that where in a rush to get to somewhere. Below is a 3x speed video i recorded.

Something that is hard to make clear, is why we did this.

TFL have rejected several plans which would have suited many people’s needs and instead have tried to push plans through that favour the motorist and fast-moving, dangerous traffic.

The upgrade to Blackfriars station is going to produce a huge increase in pedestrians that are using the area. But in TFL’s plans, pedestrians and not being looked out for, the speed limit of cars is being increased and space is being taken away from pedestrians and cyclists to allow another lane for vehicles. Which resembles a motorway.

Cyclists we will also be affected, our cycle lanes will be smaller and we will have faster traffic moving around us. If you choose to turn right at the north side of the bridge then you will have to cross 3 lanes of traffic which is moving at 30 mph (well that is the limit).

So the reason we grouped together as cyclists, bloggers, cycling groups, road users and people of the city is to voice our concern over the plans to put vulnerable road users at the bottom and allow faster and more dangerous vehicles to have the priority.

We are meant to be going through a cycling revolution in London but as anyone that knows, it was not Boris that came up with or laid the initial plans for the Cycle Superhighways or the Cycle Hire Scheme. The two leading schemes of the revolution. It seems that the cycling revolution can only progress if motorists are not hindered.

I must say a big thanks to the London Cycling Campaign, Mark at i bike london, Danny at Cyclists in the City and the MET Cycle Task Force.

LCC, Mark and Danny have provided us with fantastic information and detailed descriptions about the plans and potential issues with the designs for Blackfriars bridge. And they helped organise and publish the plans for this group ride. Without them, where would we be?

And a big thanks to the MET Cycle Task Force. An ever-growing group of officers that watched over our event and spoke to a few impatient motorcyclist. They are working hard to prevent and catch bicycle thieves and make the roads of London a safe place for any mode of transport to use. I even got my bicycle security marked after the event, a big thanks again for that 🙂

[UPDATES] Missed the time in the post, time added back in.

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5 thoughts on “Cyclists on the Bridge

  1. I just recently learned London had a goal to reduce traffic related injuries by 50% (from 94-98 average) by year 2010. Target achieved. However if you look at the progress more closely cycling is the one target London failed to reach quite miserably and in fact the number of serious injuries has been increasing steadily since 2005. I don’t know what corrective measures TfL took during last few years but if Blackfriars is any indication TfL doesn’t seem very quick to learn from its mistakes. Starting to feel like TfL needs to change radically, but there seems to be little incentive or accountability.

  2. Pretty cool idea. I’m impressed by the great turnout. In my town, a poorly designed roadway would likely only result in another street that cyclists would avoid. At some point we’re going to run out of options.

  3. Groups of 300-500 riders did exactly this in 1999 on Vancouver’s Lions’ Gate Bridge, in events called Tame The Lions. It wasn’t just one ride though, it became a regular thing. Riding on the bridge used to require using a 1.2 metre (4 foot) pavement with no protection or separation from motor vehicles often travelling at 90 km/hr / 55 mph (despite the 60 km/hr limit), and good luck if there is a pedestrian coming the other way and you two need to pass each other without someone getting clipped by a car.

    Then when they redid the bridge deck in 2000/2001, they took into account cycle access in the redesign and replaced the 1.2 metre pavement with 2.7 metre (9 ft) wide ones on both sides of the bridge that also included a several foot buffer with steel barrier between the pavement and the roadway – plenty of space for passing and no more being only centimetres away from high speed traffic!

    I wouldn’t credit the rides themselves for the improved design, but I think they do a lot to help get riders interested to encourage them to call their civic leaders, and to help them get organized into advocacy groups.

  4. Thanks Gaz, you’re too kind! Cool speed up on the video, makes us all look like Benny Hill extras. It will be interesting to see what happens next with Blackfriars. I suspect there’s more conflict to come.

    • Indeed, i doubt this will be the end of the road. I am certainly intrested in how TFL will react to this. Will they actually take on board the issues we suggest.

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