In December 2011, I got fed up with the Hammersmith council and TFL not rising up to take ownership of the Hammersmith bridge barriers being constantly broken. I was cycling to work through the bridge every day, and most of the time, the bus lane barriers would be broken, on the side of the road, if not dangling from their support.
It led all sorts of traffic go through the bridge, including some that should not have gone there like vans and small trucks. As a cyclist, this was dangerous, and I thought that with a record of the sate of the barrier everyday through the week, it would highlight the lack of attention that this road feature was receiving.
It was not only for cycling safety, but to preserve the bridge from being crammed with vehicles too big, and it was failing this purpose.
On the little website that I created, I reported every time I went through there, most of the time with photographic evidence, the state of both north and south barriers, and the statistics very shocking.
In the 7 months the website had been up, the south barrier was broken for more than 70% of the time, while the north one was out of action 20% of the time. But because the roads (or bus lanes) are part of the TFL network, they were spending the minimum amount of money on it, while the council didn’t want to hear about the problem.
It was an interesting experiment in capturing everyday waste of public money, time and effort, for a solution that could have been converted to rising bollards or another, less likely to break piece of traffic management.
Since then I changed jobs and I’m no longer cycling through the Hammersmith bridge, so I can’t record the status of those barriers any-more. I’ve therefore decided to close the site for good.
Thanks for those who knew about it and had a little interest!
Below is what the site description read when it was up and running:
The Hammersmith bridge bus lanes feature barriers to prevent HGVs and other heavy vehicles to access the bridge, as it’s not been designed to withstand the weight.
However, these barriers are broken, out of order, or removed regularly, sometimes posing serious risks to passers by. The barrier strikes back shows this, where the barrier falls in front of 3 cyclists that were going through the lane. Dangling from a cable inside the tube, the barrier was simply swinging one side to the other, and pedestrians could have been injured as well. Fairly recent articles on Focus transport, the BBC and the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle (now the Get West London website) have shown that bus drivers themselves sometimes remove the barriers so they can go over the bridge. They claim it’s because the barriers don’t work.
By recording the status of the bus lane barriers when I pass them (it’s on my daily commute), I want to have a demonstration of their uselessness, and I want to present this as wastage of public money towards the constant repairs of the barriers.
One can argue that the cyclists mentioned above should not have been in the lane, but frankly, I’d question first the design of the cycle route leading the the South access to the bridge. This video Shows the markings indicating cyclists to get on the “shared pavement”, for the only purpose to go around the barrier. Doing this is dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians and could be avoided very easily! A study by the Richmond Cycling campaign has shown this for a long time now.
For the cycle lane design issue, simply shortening the barrier by a foot or two would allow cyclists to pass by (when the barrier works, obviously) while still preventing large vehicles to go through.
A solution to the barrier itself would be to use rising bollards instead of a barrier. Maybe there would be a higher upfront cost, but that would be offset by not spending money on constant repairs. They certainly seem to work well in Manchester
That would also fix the cycle lane layout, by allowing cyclist to pass between the bollards, and not have to go on the “shared” pavement