Security barriers have been installed overnight on London’s Blackfriars Bridge to prevent terrorists from using the North-South Cycle Superhighway to drive onto the footway and attack the public. But while cyclists appreciate the extra protection they afford when riding across the bridge, there are concerns that the position of ones at each end may cause bottlenecks during rush hour on what has become a hugely popular cycle route since it opened last year.
Since Saturday evening’s attack which claimed eight lives and left dozens injured as three terrorists – later shot dead by police – crashed a van into people walking on London Bridge then stabbed other victims in nearby Borough Market, security barriers have been rushed into place on several bridges across the Thames.
In some places, barriers running the length of the bridge, have been placed on cycle lanes and campaign groups say that while they understand the need to protect pedestrians in the wake of the London Bridge attack and a similar one on Westminster Bridge in March, it should not be at the expense of rider safety.
The issue at Blackfriars Bridge is different, however. The concrete and steel barriers run between the main carriageway and the Cycle Superhighway – and therefore afford cyclists more protection than previously.
Instead it is the huge metal and concrete bollards at each end - similar to those that have been installed in locations such as Westminster and Buckingham Palace - that are the focus of concern. Here’s the ones at the southern end of the bridge – as you can see, whereas previously people could ride two abreast in both directions, now there is only room for single file.
The new barriers on cycle superhighway 6 at Blackfriars Bridge. pic.twitter.com/UwjHDYaV9B
— London SE1 (@se1) June 8, 2017
The position of the barriers at the south end at least lets cyclists travelling in opposite directions pass each other – the ones at the north end, however, don’t and there are calls for them to be repositioned.
I'm liking the new barriers on Blackfriars Bridge, but the ones on the Northern side need a bit of fine tuning. Potential bottleneck at peak pic.twitter.com/69RQSVPfJd
— 4 Chords No Net (@4ChordsNoNet) June 8, 2017
In November, a Transport for London report revealed that nearly 5,000 cyclists – one every two seconds – were using the North-South Cycle Superhighway on Blackfriars Bridge, and it’s likely the installation of the barriers will impede some of that flow and lead to a bottleneck, particularly at the northern end.
— Peter Claydon (@PeterClaydon) June 8, 2017
And as one of the pictures here shows, the positioning of the barriers there meant that a cyclist travelling southbound was forced to go up on the kerb to get around them.
Very nice. Just lovely. pic.twitter.com/5jvs1jp11P
— Evo Lucas (@veloevol) June 8, 2017
On Sunday night, the Metropolitan Police installed barriers on Lambeth, Waterloo and Westminster Bridges, followed by London Bridge on Tuesday, but it is only at Blackfriars that the barriers run outside the cycle lane.
In some places, they have reduced the width of cycle lanes, and London Cycling Campaign and Cycling UK are in discussions with Transport for London (TfL) and other bodies about how best to protect cyclists given the new security measures.
TfL has said: “The Met has installed barriers to increase security on London’s busiest bridges. We are working with them to ensure that these barriers affect cyclists as little as possible, while ensuring the security of all road users.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.