London Bridge is Falling Down: The Battle for Blackfriars

פורסם: 11 באוג׳ 2011, 4:44 על ידי: Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 11 באוג׳ 2011, 6:14 ]
by Amanda Winter , 10/8/2011

To say that the recent Blackfriars Bridge outrage is only about Transport for London (TfL) wanting to make cycle lanes smaller and increase the speed limit would be an understatement. It appears that Blackfriars is symbolic of a larger battle. The seemingly simple premise of road safety, sharing and equality seems too difficult for some politicians to grasp and it stings every time a cycle lane is sacrificed for the car. 

Unfortunately the battle does not always end with separated lanes. Bridge officials are considering five to 10mph (eight to 16kph) speed limits for cyclists on the separated cycle lanes on the famous Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. Speeders will be fined. In the meantime, planners aim to improve safety with nothing more than a painted line to separate pedestrians and cyclists. One town planner in Canada made the point that a can of paint doesn’t always make cyclists feel safe.

Helle Søholt of Gehl Architects, amongst others, claims that we can either design our cities for cars or for people, but not both. Perhaps we could apply this to bridges. This may be an overlooked factor in city planning, but as most cities have water, bridges are a typical facet of urban transport and can either be a hindrance or a success to good traffic flow.

Whether the solution is separated cycle lanes or separate bridges entirely, we could examine [or envy, depending on your city] successful examples. On an average day, 9,000 cyclists cross Bryggebroen in Copenhagen. Constructed in 2005, the estimated socio-economic benefit is DKK 93m (€12.5m) with a return on investment of 12.6%.

On the other side of the world, Vancouver touts the 1km Canada Line Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge to Richmond. Translink CEO Prendergast remarks on its importance, “this bridge represents a vital part of our integrated transportation network. If people in the region are to take cycling seriously as a commuting option, they need to have proper infrastructure in place.” Between January and August 2010, 73,469 bike trips were made across the bridge. The important thing to remember is this: improving access to the bridge is included in the city’s cycling plan.

Bridges can make a cycling commute quicker and more enjoyable, or they can pose dangerous safety threats and often do not have appropriate space allocation. So what would I tell Boris and TfL, in a Brompton and Bullitt, baskets filled with baguettes fantasy world? You can have your bridge and drink your tea, too. Just build us non-polluting, healthy, economy-stimulating cycling commuters our own bridge, perhaps like this one [Webb Bridge in Melbourne].


Check out the US-based Rails to Trails Conservancy, which has recycled 20,000 miles (32,180km) of old railways into pedestrian and cycle trails. The organization has an entire resource section on bridges.

The Korean city of Sejon is also noteworthy. As part of a policy for low carbon and green growth, the city has plans for tube/bridge-like express bikeways to be built above roads.

One thing is sure – the Blackfriars saga has built a bridge between cyclists’ concerns in the UK and abroad.