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