Blackfriars and Beyond

Blackfriars Flashride

The ‘Battle for Blackfriars’ has united London cyclists and pedestrians in opposition to plans by the Mayor of London for an ‘urban motorway’ on a London bridge that is heavily used by cyclists yet has seen two fatalities in the past decade. Discussing the campaign for a better Blackfriars is blogger Mark Ames and Charlie Lloyd of the London Cycling Campaign. Andrew Boff, Conservative member of the London Assembly and the Mayor’s ‘ambassador for championing cycling’, shares his take on Blackfriars, London transport and the vexed question of who runs the city.

Photo credit: Joe Dunckley

Blackfriars Bridge: how far to push the limits of peaceful protest?

In the face of a unanimous motion of the London Assembly and the Mayor’s own misgivings, Transport for London plans this weekend to build a dangerous new gyratory on the north side of Blackfriars Bridge, a road scheme that has been criticised from all sides for putting the interest of private motor vehicles ahead of the pedestrians and cyclists who, taken together, will be the majority of the road’s users.

The Mayor’s ‘ambassador for cycling’ is Andrew Boff AM. He recently had this to say:

‘I am staggered that so many cyclists use Blackfriars Bridge, if it was on my commuting route I wouldn’t because it is too dangerous. I hope a full review of the new layout and speed limits on the bridge and the publication of all the relevant data will result in a sensible solution that will address the needs and safety of all users.’

Unfortunately TfL’s head of surface transport Leon Daniels has stuck up two fingers to Mr Boff and everyone else and are ploughing on ahead with the new gyratory.

Image credit: Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest

TfL’s contractors aim to have the job done by Monday, so as not to have works going on at the same time on Blackfriars and the neighbouring Waterloo Bridge. Waterloo Bridge is currently in the middle of six weeks of roadworks by British Telecom. As Leon Daniels says in the TfL press release:

‘In order to keep disruption to Londoners to an absolute minimum our contractor will be working 24 hours a day from the evening of 29 July to the morning of 1 August, thereby getting the work done in the shortest possible amount of time and avoiding clashing with other planned bridge works in central London.’

The Blackfriars Bridge flash rides planned for Friday night are all very well for expressing opinion but are unlikely to keep the bulldozers at bay. However, if sufficient riders were to linger awhile, say for 48 hours, until Monday morning, they might just prevent access to the site by TfL’s contractors. TfL would have to reschedule the work, rebook the contractors, and so on. The delay might mean the Mayor would take notice and do something, rather than just talk about making London better for cycling and walking.

Alternatively, if word got around that something was brewing, and the Mayor decided to bring in squads of Police to guard the bridge, it would become very apparent that he was heavy handing a situation in the face of overwhelming public and political opposition. That would not be very good PR.

It would require a significant number of people to be prepared potentially to put themselves in harm’s way, possibly sacrificing a few D-locks and risking arrest for obstruction of the public highway. A couple of months ago on the radio show Jenny Jones AM, the Green Party’s candidate for Mayor, said she hoped she would not have to resort to lying down in the road to prevent TfL’s scheme.

I guess we’ll see how strong opinion really is among London’s cyclists who are rapidly learning that in Transport for London, we have a formidable enemy.

Road Danger Reduction with Dr Robert Davis

Each year on the roads of this country upwards of 2,000 people are killed and many tens of thousands more are injured in road crashes. The perception of danger is one of the most common reasons people have for not riding a bicycle. Why do we, as a society, tolerate this level of carnage? What can be done? In the studio to help answer these questions is Dr Robert Davis, author of the acclaimed book Death on the Streets and currently serving as Chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum. Some more reading.

A Green Mayor? On the Campaign Trail with Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones is a member of the London Assembly and is standing as the Green Party’s candidate in the 2012 London Mayoral elections. We ride from her home in Walworth/Peckham borders to City Hall and discuss cycling, liveable cities and the future of the Green Party.

Bike Blogging with Mark Ames of ibikelondon / Jan Gehl / Eric Pickles MP

mark-ames-photo

Mark Ames writes ibikelondon, one of the best of London’s blossoming bike blogs. We discuss the city planning ideas of Jan Gehl, the intellectual godfather of Copenhagenization. We hear what British Cabinet minister Eric Pickles MP has to say about cycling and Mark (pictured, above, with two devoted readers) gives his top tips for aspiring bike bloggers.

For more London bike blogging try 101 Wankers, Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest, Cyclists in the City, I am not a cyclist, Kennington People on Bikes, Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club, Velo Loves the City and War on the Motorist.

From further afield try A View from the Cycle Path, Lazy Bicycle Blog and Copenhagenize.

Audio clips of the Creating Tomorrow’s Liveable Cities conference thanks to The Economist.

Cycle Superhighways – Waste of Paint or Copenhagenization?

cycle-superhighway

A long, hard look at the Mayor of London’s plans for 12 cycle superhighways – bike routes from the outer boroughs along London’s main arterial roads. With Kulveer Ranger, Boris Johnson’s top transport adviser, Rob Ainsley of the Real Cycling blog, and Charlie Lloyd of the London Cycling Campaign.

Video: London Critical Mass – Lorries Killing Cyclists

The London Cycling Campaign have released an excellent video.