Blackfriars Bridge Fatality

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Friday 14 May 2004 12.36pm
The City Cyclists (London Cycling Campaign in the City site claims under "Recent achievements"

Blackfriars Bridge - obtained commitment to widen cycle lanes to 1.7m (widest of any in central London)

When is this scheduled for?

Who is the taking the lead - City Corporation (who own the bridge)or Transport for London Street Management (who manage both the red routes and cycle route network?
Friday 14 May 2004 2.16pm
Martin, do you not take my point that if you do it, everyone will do it - including the zig-zagging cyclists and the skateboarders? What if someone chooses to stop right in front of you to take a picture (not an unreasonable thing to do)? You brake hard and off goes your daughter. It's not a lot to ask to walk across a bridge that was designed for pedestrians. I sympathise with the rest of your argument.
Friday 14 May 2004 3.02pm
Even more interesting than the stuff from the London Cycling Campaign is the booklet produced by Transport for London in February to promote cycling in London. (its on their website but I don't know how to link it ) It includes a forward by our Ken and a commitment to increase cycling by 200% by 2020. It talks of cycle friendly routes through London, and a consideration of the cyclist in all developments.

It's front cover shows a female cyclist without a protective helmet, the inside cover shows another female cyclist without a hat and wearing flip - flops. - and so it goes on right through the document. No commitment to promoting personal safety in this brave new world then. I would welcome this sort of publication if I felt for a moment it was anything more than just marketing fluff, but the reality is that since the election of the Mayor every junction I cross as a cyclist, amended by Transport for London, has become more dangerous for cyclists not less.
Friday 14 May 2004 3.07pm

I understand the point you are trying to make, but I simply do not agree with it. It's the age old argument driven by a form of nimbyism: if you allow something then it opens the floodgates for the more extreme element to take over. Should we prohibit driving cars on roads because there's an element of drivers break the speed limit / drive dangerously / drive drunk??? No, we penalise those drivers who are caught breaking those specific laws. The responsible drivers can drive responsibly.

Let's address a couple of examples:

1. We allow people to cycle RESPONSIBLY on the bridge alonside the pedestrians. Police will still patrol the bridge - AS THEY DO NOW - and hand out penalty notices if they find people cycling IRRESPONSIBILY. They key difference to the current situation is that I risk a 30 fine if a policeman catches me cycling on the bridge, even if I'm doing so responsibly.

2. Someone stops right in front of me to take a picture. I brake and stop in a controlled manner and neither I nor my daughter falls off! It may surprise you to know, but stopping a bike isn't difficult. Have you tried it?

You say it's not a lot to ask to walk across a bridge that was designed for pedestrians. My reply to this is twofold:

1. Everywhere else in Europe "designed for pedestrians" would read "designed for pedestrians and cyclists". In other words, a 20 foot wide bridge such as the Millennium Bridge would be used by both pedestrians and cyclists under its current design.

2. See my point earlier about getting off a bike and walking with it when you're carrying a 20 kg child in a child-seat. The bike is far more stable whilst being ridden than being walked. AND I dare say it is far more manageable to ride the bike with a child on the back than negotiate a bike in one hand and a 4 year old child in the other! Try it and see!
Friday 14 May 2004 3.14pm
R Shaw:

I thoroughly agree with your views of the marketing guff put out by TFL. I'd like to add another angle on this:

For the last few years, London has participated in the European Car Free day. I say 'participated' in the loosest sense, because whilst the entire central areas of cities such as Paris, Brussels and Geneva are closed to motor-traffic for one day in a year, London closes a couple of token roads such as Tower Bridge.

Each year I have written to the organisers of the event to ask why London cannot commit itself more fully to the ethos of the European Car Free day. Each year I receive a standard reply: "This is just the beginning of our commitment. Next year we aim to participate fully and make the whole of Central London car-free for a day".... and another year passes without any real improvement in provision for cyclists.
Friday 14 May 2004 3.14pm
When are we going to address what happens when the resources we presently need to run cars, are no longer available? How are we to move about London in the future? I personally think that people should be encouraged to take up cycling, however, I won't cycle in London while everything is still being done to accomodate the motorist. I just wouldn't feel safe in a culture that holds that the motorist is king and damn the rest.
Friday 14 May 2004 3.16pm
Re cycling on pavements: I sympathise with both the pavement cyclist and the aggrieved pedestrian (being particularly good at having double standards ;-)).

When you're on a bike you realise it's mad to cycle on some of the bridges, but when you're on foot you can't see why those pesky cyclists are all over your pavement.

I got an interesting take on this when in Tokyo. There, you are forbidden from riding on the road, and the law is that cyclists must ride on the pavement. Pavements aren't noticeably any wider than here (often the opposite), but there don't seem to be many problems because of the spirit of general tolerance and willingness to get on together. Cyclists dismount if their way is temporarily blocked by pedestrians. They know that they will still get to where they're going a lot quicker than by just walking. Pedestrians take a bit of notice of where they are on the pavement and, IMO, tend to spend less time dawdling aimlessly from side to side than we like to do here.

Perhaps if the pedestrians and cyclists decided that they weren't each other's natural enemies (and concentrated on the road planners instead), then we'd all be safer and happier.

...there's plenty more c**** in the cup.
Friday 14 May 2004 3.28pm

My prayers have been answered: someone has expressed my view more eloquently than I. Pedestrians and cyclists should be each others' kindred spirits, not fighting for eradication of the each other.

I would argue that cyclists and pedestrians could share traffic space with each other far more successfully (and far safer) than cyclists and motorists currently do. Unfortunately, our town planners have encouraged people to think that cyclists should ride on the roads, and that pedestrians should have sole use of paths.... even such wide paths as the Millennium Bridge.

An interesting anecdote: I attempted to cycle across the new Paternoster Square in order to cross from Saint Pauls Churchyard to Newgate street the other morning. At 8am the square was virtually empty, save for one private security guard who told me to get off my bike. We had a 15 minute chat, the outcome of which was that even though he could see nothing wrong with my cycling across the square and that I posed no threat to anyone, "RULES IS RULES, GOV!" and he would get the sack if the private management of Paternoster Square found out through the CCTV that he'd allowed a cyclist through. Mad... thoroughly thoroughly mad.
Friday 14 May 2004 3.46pm

Thanks for your nice comments, but you've got to remember that I'm a dangerous impotent reactionnary (?sp?) who's not getting enough and is well known for all sorts of picking on people and general nastiness.

Have a nice weekend

...there's plenty more c**** in the cup.
Saturday 15 May 2004 12.32am
Martin, anarchy lives. Next week, Waterloo Station concourse. Return to your bicycle racks and prepare for government.
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