London’s next big blackspot

New Bridge Street, with traffic proceeding onto Blackfriars Bridge. As part of the reconstruction of the junction, sold as “improvements” for pedestrians using the new mainline station, the pedestrian crossing has been removed from New Bridge Street. But apparently a sign saying “crossing not in use” is not enough to make it so. Pedestrians don’t know that TfL have modelled a junction in which well-behaved pedestrians either take a 250 metre detour up New Bridge Street, or push four buttons, wait four times, and take an only slightly shorter detour to use the remaining marked crossings at this junction. Who could possibly have guessed that removing a pedestrian crossing would not stop the large number of pedestrians who are on one side of the road and who want to be on the other side of the road from trying to cross it? It’s not like we have sixty years of experience and research on the subject or anything.

People are going to die here, and  TfL will have to choose between pleas of incompetence, indifference, or malice.

The Rt Hon Lieut-Col JTC Moore-Brabazon MP, commenting on the 1934 bill which proposed speed limits, said:

“It is true that 7000 people are killed in motor accidents, but it is not always going on like that. People are getting used to the new conditions… No doubt many of the old Members of the House will recollect the number of chickens we killed in the old days. We used to come back with the radiator stuffed with feathers. It was the same with dogs. Dogs get out of the way of motor cars nowadays and you never kill one. There is education even in the lower animals. These things will right themselves.”

The principle of educating the lower animals by a process of natural selection seems to be a key ingredient in TfL’s smoothing the flow programme.

While hanging around filming things, I heard a couple of young women who had just run across the road commenting on the loss of the crossing. The word “Boris” was used, amongst a selection of Anglo-Saxon monosyllables, as one explained to the other that it was the Mayor’s policy to remove pedestrian crossings in favour of faster motor vehicles. Clearly the consequences of Boris’s policies are more widely understood than he would like.

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12 responses to “London’s next big blackspot

  1. For 20 years, 1988 – 2008, I worked for a firm based in Tudor Street. I would cross New Bridge Street on an almost daily basis, to visit the bank, El Vinos, the Blackfriar pub, Bots, or one of the other commerces ranged along the eastern side of the street.

    Throughout that time, there was no pedestrian crossing at the southern end, by Watergate – that only came later as a temporary measure with the station works.

    Throughout that time I, and in my observation dozens of other people, would cross the road at surface level in precisely this location. The alternative was pretty unattractive, ie down the steps nto the underpass across to the old tube ticket office, then hang a left along a lengthy underpass heading back north which emerged on the corner outside the Blackfriar.

    It was running the gauntlet. Watch for a minute gap in the fast moving and aggressive motor traffic, make a dash for the (narrow) central median, catch your breath while whaiting for a similar small gap in the traffic tearing south then another dash to the ;pavement by El Vinos. Repeat in reverse.

    I don’t know the accident stats for that crossing but I’ll hazard a guess they are not insignificant. And what about less agile pedestrians, the lederly, or the disabled, or just people with a dodgy knee like me? Are they supposed to use the underpass which has apparently been reprieved as some sort of answer to the objections about the Watergate crossing? Or are they supposed to do a 270 degree circumnavigation of the entire gyratory so as to complete the 90 degree arc direct from east to west New Bridge Street? At lamost any time of day, the number of pedestrians performing this maneouvre will greatly outnumber the motorists driving through.

    Nice to know where Boris’ priorities lie.

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  3. Just goes to show that attitudes towards humanity in the Tory party never change, is that why they call them selves Conservatives?

  4. “But apparently a sign saying “crossing not in use” is not enough to make it so. Pedestrians don’t know that TfL have modelled a junction in which well-behaved pedestrians either take a 250 metre detour up New Bridge Street, or push four buttons, wait four times, and take an only slightly shorter detour to use the remaining marked crossings at this junction”

    Could it be that the traffic planners are using pedestrians as unwitting traffic calming measures, the way they already do with cyclists?

    Yes, people will be killed. Has TfL ever heard of desire lines? Those are where pedestrian routes should go, whether it holds up the motor traffic or not.

  5. Sure pedestrians are ignoring the ‘crossing not in use’ now, but how long will it be before TFL installs pigpen railings? In their eyes, problem sorted, everybody is safe and happy now. Pedestrians will be forced to walk way out of their way to cross and motor traffic will have an unimpeded run (well except for the cyclists, and yeah, all those other cars).

    • Pigpens are completely out of favour, even with TfL — they’ve been cutting their pigpens out on the grounds that, er, at junctions, cyclists get crushed between the turning trucks and the railings. Installing railings here, when the policy is to eliminate them from central London, would be an undeniable admission of failure, and, given the profile of this place and this junction rebuild, would be very embarrassing for TfL and for the mayor.

      Deaths would be less embarrassing. Boris can always pretend that junction design has no relationship with safety — that road deaths are just a natural fact of the city over which he had and has no control.

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  7. I don’t see pigpens coming there either – not only is it not olicy anymore, but they didn’t have them at that point in the preceding two decades.

    I think TfL’s policy (?) will be to accept the existence of an informal pedestrian crossing there, ie leave the people and the vehicles to establish their own road-user hierarchy.

    Which we all know means vehicles win.

  8. zarniwooporiginal

    As someone who works on Tudor St, and who cycles into work on occasion I can confirm a) that the crossing will be a death trap and b) that there is no power in the world that will stop me and everyone else crossing New Bridge St at that point. Maybe we could start designing routes and crossings around where they’re needed?

  9. From: Albert Beale, Kings Cross (worldpeace@gn.apc.org)
    The symbolic action by London Cycling Campaign at this location, when – some people thought – a bit of direct action would be more appropriate, has inspired a new campaigning group.
    See bikesalive.wordpress.com for information about a traffic-calming event on 9 January.

  10. Pingback: Blackfriars – redesigned for pedestrians | As Easy As Riding A Bike

  11. A 20 mph enforced speed limit across the bridge and junctions might go some way to reducing the risk. At speeds of 20mph and below the ability of all road users to assess spatial relationships is substantially enhanced, and they become able to merge and move around each other by small and gentle alterations to speed and course.
    Both Northbound and Southbound the bridge has a preceeding set of traffic signals, a further set of signals, timed for approach release to a green aspect and let you roll on to the bridge (= approach at 20mph they turn green and you keep rolling – faster and they stay red).

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