Why I can’t wait to try out the new Blackfriars Bridge

There’s been a lot of huffing and puffing by cycling bloggers, campaigners and politicians recently over TfL’s road layout plans for Blackfriars Bridge. But try as they collectively might, they cannot blow over the new plans. TfL is sticking to its guns. Like a dictator, clinging on to their seat of power.

However, I for one, can’t wait to try out the new Blackfriars Bridge layout. I mean, let’s be honest, in which other European city do you get a motorway right in the middle of the city centre? I’ll tell you: Nowhere! What an incredible feat of engineering and city planning. To squeeze, right in the heart of the city, a 3 lane motorway. Yet, all we can do is moan about it.

Cycling campaigners should get off their high horse and get behind TfL’s plans. After all, they are the experts. Their recommendations are all based on sound economic principles by trustworthy leaders. Who are we to tell them how to do their job?

One such sound economic principle is that a bicycle is worth 20% of a car. Quite how TfL reached that conclusion isn’t really something we should occupy our minds with too much. However, I like to imagine they looked at a picture of a bicycle and compared it to a picture of a car. Someone leaned their head to the left, raised their shoulders and stated it’s a 1/5 of the size of a car.

As such, even if during rush hour there are more bicycles than cars, because of the 20% rule, there aren’t. Fact.

Anyway, less talk of statistics because all that stuff is boring. Instead, let’s dream for a moment how cool riding across Blackfriars Bridge will be when the work is complete.

I can clearly picture my maiden ride across. I’m going to cling to the corner of the road in the shrunken cycle lane. I’ll almost be able to reach out and touch the pedestrians. My hair will be blowing gracefully in the wind as lorries zoom, inches past me, at 30mph. Bringing with them a vacuum of warm polluted air. I’ll be able to marvel at how many cars it’s possible to cram in such a small space. Almost like watching a circus.

However, the real challenge will have yet to begin.

I’ll be wanting to turn right so of course that means I need to cross three lanes of traffic. Fortunately, I’ve already planned out how I’m going to achieve this. I’ll be using my road bike and I’m going to pedal like I’m in the Tour de France. I’ll reach 30 mph, which is the speed my fellow road users will be travelling at. Then, skilfully, I’ll overcome the deadly challenge and be on my way.

What an experience it will be. My only fear is it will be over too soon. However, I’m happy in the knowledge that so many of my fellow cyclists will be having the same experience. From beginners simply wanting to get to work cheaply and under their own steam to more advanced cyclists.

I’m proud to live in a city where despite the Mayor saying “more needs to be done on cycling over Blackfriars Bridge”, despite unanimous support from all the political parties of the London Assembly, despite expert recommendations for 20mph speed limits on all of London’s central bridges, despite growing pollution levels and despite mass protests by cyclists, we have a transportation authority that can override them and do what it knows is right for London.

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19 Responses to Why I can’t wait to try out the new Blackfriars Bridge

  1. JonF 04/08/2011 at 9:11 am #

    I bet TFL will forget to put up one of those “Motorway ahead” warning signs as well.

    No L drivers, pedal cycles, slow vehicles(under 30mph), etc.

  2. Mark Elmy 04/08/2011 at 10:59 am #

    I am assuming that your reference to motorway was in the derogertory sence?
    Being an infrequent visitor to our nations capital (amen!) I’m not familiar with Blackfriars bridge but remember that we (cyclists) are not allowed on motorways. 🙂

  3. ibikelondon 04/08/2011 at 11:56 am #

    Very well put Andreas, with tongue firmly in cheek! It’s a simple choice at the end of the day; do we want our cities to be filled with streets for people or do we want to turn back the clock and create urban motorways which divide communities, increase exposure to road danger and air pollution and generally create horrible unpleasant places. It’s a simple choice of one or the other really…

    • Andreas 04/08/2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Thanks Mark and thank you for re-tweeting to everyone.

  4. Bill Morgan 04/08/2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Andreas, I’m glad you’re seeing the positive side if things. It’s only fair – we cyclists should not have a voice seeing as how we don’t pay any road tax or probably any kind of tax for that matter being the soap dodging scum that we are.

    • Andreas 04/08/2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Exactly Bill – better to stay out of these things and let London be built around cars.

  5. jonomc 04/08/2011 at 2:04 pm #

    I enjoyed this post a lot! I went on the Blackfriars demo and am keen to see this bridge take on the “Cyclist Alamo” tag it deserves – I just hope no one has to die at this Alamo before the point is made.

    The sarcasm in this post for me got the message over much more effectively than a string of statistics/facts and figures.

    I had a go at the comedy side of this with a cartoon about the message motorist hear when cyclist talk about Blackfriars bridge – you can see it here.


    But I think your post got the real message over far more effectively – oh and it made me smile which I always appreciate!

  6. Jemma Leahy 04/08/2011 at 10:03 pm #

    This is the best post I have read and has made me laugh. I have similar feelings about my cycle to work everyday in London. It’s a shame that my route doesn’t go over Blackfriers bridge… 🙂

    • Andreas 04/08/2011 at 10:35 pm #

      Thanks Jemma, and I absolutely love your “Help my chain came off” blog. Refreshing, light-hearted reading. Keep it up!

  7. Dan 05/08/2011 at 10:15 am #

    My route currently takes in both Blackfriars bridge and ‘the junction of death’ in old street. Beginning to think a re-routing is needed…

    Mind you, you’d think it’s the cars you have to watch on Blackfriars. I was cycling over it late at night going south the other week. As I was coming round the left hand corner where the works are, to come on to the bridge, I very nearly hitting some drunken wazzock casually walking in road, in the cycle lane, against traffic – completely oblivious to the massive pavement on the other side of the road.

  8. Jono 05/08/2011 at 10:18 am #

    Ahh Andreas,

    Just for a minute, you had me going. Nicely put all round.


  9. Howard 05/08/2011 at 10:39 am #

    Nice post – captures the issue and problems really well.

    Tactic you describe to negotiate a right hand turn at the north end of the bridge is pretty much equal to what’s required to use the Euston Road underpass. Saying it’s not for the fainthearted is a bit of an understatement.

  10. David Cohen 05/08/2011 at 11:40 am #

    Great post, Andreas. The many links you have included lay testament to the fact that our love affair with motorised vehicles (for that read “the car”) still seems to get the upperhand when it comes to trying to nudge model shift along away from this model. The really poor state we’re in with air pollution in London is a good enough argument on its own to porgress any programme aimed at helping reduce motorised emmissions.

  11. PaulM 05/08/2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Those right turns will be a breeze – just follow John Franklin’s advice (“Cyclecraft” – DfT-approved manual), and be sure to maintain a good cadence so that you can achieve a good “sprint speed” to negotiate roundabouts and junctions.

    Or fit a rocket-pack and carry a box of matches!

  12. Godwyns O 06/08/2011 at 1:35 am #

    I beg to differ. All roads are dangerous, but careless cyclists are no less danger than careless drivers. Cyclists in London, like the normal British tradition, just moan and jeer. I am yet to see a campaign for cautious and respectful cycling; a campaign dedicated to teaching the millions of terrorizing and nasty cyclists out there how to cycle safely for their sake and that of others. If you ask me, a careless cyclist pose same [or even more] danger to the world [than] as a careless driver? Why? Because s/he sits in the middle between the pedestrian and the motorists. You may count the higher probability of death resulting in a car accident, but danger on the road and whatever ill-result it leads to is simply unwanted. Whether it be death or broken bone, temporary pain or a lasting injury, it is awful.

    Blackfriars wont be as dangerous as most jabbering cyclists are trying to make us all believe. But I tell you, it would be as dangerous as the roundabout at Victoria park where a cyclist was crushed to death last year; it would be as dangerous as the junction of Clarkenwell and St. John Street, where another cyclist was killed, or like London Bridge where another happened some time ago. Because most cyclist feel they have a different rule or no rules at all like other road users; we dont. Also some cyclists are simply foolish (and I dont want to use the word ‘common sense’ because they have no idea of what that is). I see this daily as a I cycle and by that observation, being a daily cyclist myself, cyclists are more often in the wrong.

    As much as I think there should be a balance of and relevance for development of the one in discussion, I am against the ‘its not in my backyard’ business. There are other needs for various sections of the society than just only that of the cyclist. If something is wrong with the development, scaremongering or this amount of blackmail would not solve it.

    Stop the instigation and face the real world. hahaha!

    • Andreas 07/08/2011 at 6:27 pm #

      You just like disagreeing with me Godwyn mate!

  13. Richard 15/08/2011 at 12:38 pm #

    Not read all the other posts so apologies if I’m repeating anyone but surely, as a means of transport, a bike is only worth one fifth of a car if the car is carrying 5 passengers? Wonder how many of those cars will have 5 passengers in them…

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