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.