Now the LCC has come out with a new design, which many people have blogged about already:
By British standards, it is quite remarkable that a campaigning organisation has felt the need to put itself out there so visibly in order to try to influence for the better. They've achieved a good amount of publicity. This is all commendable.
|The poor design originating with Transport for London.|
Junctions are critical, and LCC's design could do these better. I have a few comments which perhaps could feed into the process:
- Given how much space there is around these roads, why have cycle-lanes right next to the other traffic ?
- Left turning cyclists are required to make too sharp turns and are not adequately protected from left turning motorists. Why not use some of the "cool café culture" area for left turning cyclists ?
- Why a two stage right turn ?
- Advanced stop lines / bike boxes should not be part of an improved layout ? They're no longer a part of modern design here. If people feel a need to ride on the road instead of in the cycle-lanes then the design has failed.
- Why can't cyclists turn left on red, and in some instances also go straight on red ?
The LCC recently held a poll in which the majority of their membership voted for a proposal called "Go Dutch". The language of the proposal was unfortunately rather woolly, suggesting for instance that only "main roads" should be targeted for segregated infrastructure, and that these should be rolled out rather slowly. What's more, it illustrated this with something far removed from best practice. The response from members seemed to suggest that the membership knew exactly what they wanted, and that they have something altogether more "Dutch" in mind than what the LCC was proposing.
This new design also has been described in some quarters as being "Dutch" in style. However, modern Dutch infrastructure doesn't really look like this. The LCC's proposal looks not entirely different to how some Dutch provision might have looked 30 years ago. There was a lot to like about 30 year old Dutch cycling infrastructure, so this isn't entirely a bad thing. However, in the second decade of the 21st century, I really think that London should be copying 21st century solutions and not looking quite so far backward.
Actually, my criticisms are relatively slight. Overall, I support this design. It's far from perfect, but it's a huge improvement on what was proposed by TfL.
The real criticism
All that is above is minor criticism compared with what Transport for London deserve. How on earth did this situation ever arise ? This fight should never have been necessary because nothing as ludicrous as the original TfL plan should ever have been proposed by TfL.
In a modern city, the proposed design from the LCC should look pedestrian. Maybe it should even look old-fashioned. However, Londoners are describing it as "ambitious" and "visionary". The reason why they see it as such is that TfL has let Londoners down. How did London get to be so backwards in its thinking ? Why is TfL still designing and building new infrastructure with a 1960s mindset ?
Works at Blackfriars should mean new excellent infrastructure to link up with existing excellent infrastructure. What is being faced is perhaps managing to build modern infrastructure here, but due to decades of inaction, it won't link up seamlessly with what is around the corner, and across the rest of the city, because everything else is of prehistoric design.
If the LCC plan, or something based on it, goes ahead, this could be a new dawn for infrastructure design in the UK. But please, in future, let's see British engineers and planners taking an interest in what has already been achieved in the Netherlands and not trying to reinvent the wheel.
|The banner reads "Cyclepath must stay - where it is now."|
The Fietsersbond was previously known as ENFB
A surprising precedent
There is actually a good precedent to all this debate over the Blackfriars area, and some readers may be surprised to find out that this earlier fight was over a bridge in a very similar situation in Amsterdam.
It's perhaps a good omen that the campaigners won and that conditions are now good.
The Berlagebrug in Amsterdam was built in 1932 but didn't receive cycle lanes until 1982. In 1984 they were threatened with removal and the Fietsersbond had to fight to retain a decent level of cycle access over the bridge.
The bridge now looks like this:
Grotere kaart weergeven
The cycle-paths are narrower and not as well separated from the road as would be ideal, but they link with proper segregated cycle-paths at the end:
Grotere kaart weergeven
Mark made this great video about the Berlagebrug to go with this blog post. Perhaps a little inspiration for those fighting at Blackfriars:
If you're in London, go on the flash-ride at 5:45 pm Wednesday 12th October 2011.