An estimated 2,000 cyclists came out for the third flashride against Transport for London’s controversial planned changes to the thoroughfare’s road layout on Wednesday evening.

As the sun started to set over Blackfriars Bridge, riders on all manner of cycle came to the meeting point on Upper Ground, by Doggetts Pub.

Everyone from suits to scenesters were united by London Cycling Campaign’s third Flashride in their ongoing “Battle for Blackfriars Bridge”, pursuing a new, safer design for the junction.

The flashride follows smaller ones organised in May and July. Pedestrians also took part: the crux of the issue is developing safe streets for all road users.

Blackfriars Bridge controversy

In line with the redevelopment of Blackfriars Station, TfL is persisting with £550 million re-development plans for the road system, aiming to increase the speed limit from 20mph to 30mph and

increase the lanes on the busy thoroughfare from two to three.

Several serious crashes have been reported on the bridge this year.

Politicians from all major groups have noted the danger of the current road layout, and Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said more work needs to be done on the accessibility of cycling over the bridge. But nothing has been changed.

The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has its own safer, continental-style road layout that protects cycle lanes and makes the turns

safer, estimated to add only 1% to the cost of the three-year development.

Packed peloton of protesters
Come 5.45pm, policemen in attendance stopped traffic to let cyclists pour onto the road, and the protest began. Quickly, the bridge became a heaving kaleidoscope of cyclists, stretching as far as the eye could see.

The “battle for Blackfriars Bridge” is belligerent in name only: this was another peaceful and good-natured protest, crossing at walking pace from the south to north side of the river, and back again, circling the conspicuous diggers continuing development work.

London Assembly members Jenny Jones (Green), Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat) and Val Shawcross (Labour) took part, alongside London Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick.

Bicycle bells were dinged in unison, among occasional cheers and shouts of “Bike friendly streets!” and “What do we want? People-friendly streets. When do we want it? Now!”

However, there was one heated altercation as a moped driver attempted to scythe right through the protest. Several cyclists remonstrated with him, almost resulting in a fight.

The battle for Blackfriars Bridge is just the starting point for London Cycling Campaign’s next big initiative.

Their ‘Go Dutch’ project, to be launched in the New Year, aims to make London’s major roads safer for cyclists.

See the forthcoming October 20 edition of Cycling Weekly for more coverage of the Blackfriars Bridge flashride.

The thronging flashride crosses Blackfriars Bridge

A cyclist remonstrates with a moped driver who scythed through the protest

Flashriders gather outside Doggett’s Pub before the start of the protest

External links
London Cycling Campaign: Blackfriars Bridge

London Cycling Campaign bike-friendly design for Blackfriars

  • James Avery


    The tax argument is a red herring. Consider the health benefits of cycling, and consider what imported oil does to the balance of payments. Joined up thinking from cosmetically pro-bike PM and London Mayor should get that.

  • PeterLB

    Hi Sam, welcome to these pages. Shame you’re so ignorant on the subject which you chose to comment on. As most people know, the British road system is paid for from a huge pool of taxpayers money, the bulk of which is made up from income tax. Therefore, if you have a job and pay tax, you’re more than entitled to have your say on the British road system and how it is maintained/developed.

    Money from car tax also goes in to this pool, but it contributes a far smaller amount than income tax does. And here’s something that may shock you. I’m willing to bet that at least half of those 2,000 cyclists protesting on the bridge own a car, I know I do, as do all but two of my cycling friends.

    Believe it or not, in this country you are allowed to own both a bike and a car, and you’re free to use whichever one you want, when you want. Amazing that, isn’t it?!

  • Sam

    When cyclists pay road tax or contribute another way to our transport infrastructure, it is then that they can protest. Until that time, they should be thankful they aren’t charged a thing. Who paid for cycle lanes in the first place? Certainly not the cyclists. By the way, I’m a cyclist and do not ride about London every day with a misguided expectation that every other road user should cater to my needs.

  • iamnotacyclist

    martin – the battle is for separate cycle track to be build on the bridge. This means a single lane dedicated solely for bicycles. I think this makes more sense than sharing any road with cars. Solution like this means that you don’t care what the road for cars is like because you’ve got one only for yourself. This gives you enough protection, space for overtaking and priority to encourage people less dedicated to cycling than you, to get on a bicycle.
    It’s great that you don’t feel good cycling on wide and fast roads, sadly most people don’t, and since a large chunk of campaings want to see more people cycling we need to adapt and approach that allows people of all ages and fitness levels to enjoy bicycle as a mode of transport. Thus I can’t agree this protest was misguided. I think however that your thinking is kinda selfish.

  • martin

    this protest is misguided

    the more lanes and the faster the traffic, the safer for the cyslists as there are fewer hold-ups and less congestion to clog and render dangerous the left-hand side of the road, where most cyclists ride

    counter-intuitive as it might sound, slow and narrow roads can actually be more dangerous to cyclists

    after 8 years of daily london cycle commuting i’d take a wider, faster road (or junction) any day

  • Baz

    Good luck to them. A minor point but that ‘moped’ looks remakably like a scooter; this might seem to be nitpicking but as your esteemed organ used to be called “Cycling and Mopeds Weekly” you ought to know!