Bank Junction Closure To Be Made Permanent?

Bank junction in the City of London has been closed to all but cyclists and buses for more than a year on an “experimental” basis. This was declared to be in the interests of road safety following the death of a cyclist a couple of years ago, and to reduce air pollution. The City of London Corporation have now issued a press release and report on the scheme – the latter can be found here in the Agenda Reports Pack: http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=19871&x=1

In summary, Corporation staff claim it has been a great success with casualties reducing by 52%, air pollution reducing and bus journey times improving. They also claim no major impact on surrounding roads and that three quarters of people responding to a consultation supported the scheme.

The ABD opposed the closure because this is a key hub in the City’s road network, and because there were many people who were not aware of the closure and ignored the signs. The latest detail data on that indicated 800 drivers per day were infringing with the result that they will get a £130 penalty fine (reduced to £65 if they pay promptly). That’s equivalent to £15 million per year in total.

We also suggested that the road junction be redesigned to improve safety at the junction and provide more pedestrian space. There were plans for a longer-term project to improve the junction but it looks like this has now been dropped as there is no mention of it.

What are the facts about this scheme? Firstly only 45% of respondents supported the scheme in the consultation without changes being made, i.e. THERE WAS NO OVERALL SUPPORT.

Journey times on alternative routes to avoid Bank Junction have been substantially increased in some cases. For example it now takes an extra 1 to 2 minutes along Cannon Street, a relatively short road.

Taxi drivers are particularly concerned by their inclusion in the ban, and they have problems with delivering people to some locations – for example the relatively new NED hotel just west of the junction.

As regards the road safety benefits, obviously if roads are closed then accidents are reduced. But as the traffic simply diverts to other roads, there may be no overall benefit. In addition there is always a temporary improvement in accident figures after road engineering work which is why a three year before and three year after analysis is usually considered best practice by road safety engineers. But in this case the City Corporation have not waited for the full results.

I spoke briefly on the LBC Nick Ferrari show about this proposal and questioned why the whole of the City was not closed to traffic as that would obviously improve road safety even more. If you think that is a good idea, then you are ignoring the needs of certain road users (including bus users), and the need to deliver goods and services to offices and shops in the City.

The report mentioned above will now be considered by a number of City Corporation Committees. Let us hope that some members have the sense to object.

Roger Lawson

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Bank Junction Closed to Most Traffic

Bank Junction 4 2017-05-23On Monday (22nd May), Bank Junction in the City of London was closed to most vehicles. Only buses and cyclists are now permitted between 7.00 am and 7.00 pm.

It was very amusing watching a BBC reporter talking about this on the Monday evening news with the background of the junction in view – and clearly many vehicles were either not aware of the new restriction or were ignoring it. The infringers face a large fine.

On Tuesday it was similar as you can see from the photo above – just one example of many seen in just a few minutes.

The measure has certainly reduced traffic congestion at and around this junction, but of course spreads it elsewhere. Whether it will reduce accidents at this location remains to be seen. Cyclists and buses now speed through the junction.

The ABD did object to this closure as did taxi drivers. It’s one of the key road junctions in the City of London and there were other alternatives to simplify this complex junction and reduce accidents.

Roger Lawson

Bank Junction Closure

As first reported back in December 2015, the City of London Corporation are proceeding with a plan to close Bank junction to all but buses and cyclists. Black cab drivers are incensed by this proposal and ran several demonstration at that junction and near the Houses of Parliament last week. This caused widespread traffic chaos.

According to a report by the City of London Corporation, the benefit will be a significant reduction in casualties (often pedestrians and cyclists) around the junction, and average traffic journey times will be neutral or slightly positive. It will also improve bus services based on the modelling done.

All general traffic will be banned from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm from travelling through the junction, which is one of the key parts of the road network in the City of London. Although much traffic already avoids it because it is very heavily congested, it will certainly cause a lot of difficulties for taxi drivers. Diverting traffic will surely make other alternative routes busier.

The scheme will start in April, and last for 18 months on an experimental basis but such schemes tend to become permanent. The Corporation’s report says “The experimental scheme will not solve all safety aspects at Bank, but will make a significant difference without the need for infrastructure changes, which will take more time to plan and deliver”.

What’s the cost of this project? It is budgeted to be £792,000. More information is present here: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/transport-and-streets/traffic-management/Pages/Bank.aspx

Comment: One of the key sources of congestion at Bank are in fact buses of which there are many and who move slowly. The configuration of the junction and the narrow pavements (insufficient for the number of people exiting Bank underground) are major problems and a cause of the poor accident record. So one cannot dispute that some measures needed to be taken to tackle these problems.

However there were other alternatives, such as simplifying the junction, or allowing entry only from certain directions that would have surely helped. Closing this key junction to traffic will be similar to the redesign of other key junctions in central London such as Trafalgar Square and Aldgate which has contributed so much to reduced journey times in central London.

Taxi driver David Morris was quoted in the Financial Times as saying “We are part of the London public transport system and yet we will be denied access”. He suggested there would be horrendous gridlock as a result and questioned where all the traffic will go. One cannot but be sympathetic to his views because this looks like another step that will reduce the capacity of the road network of London. One cannot continue to remove road space and expect congestion to do anything but get worse.

If you wish to object to these plans, I suggest you write to Gillian Howard, at City of London Corporation, Guildhall, PO Box 270, London EC2P 2EJ. Or send an email to bankarea@cityoflondon.gov.uk . There does not appear to be any formal consultation process as yet and given the timescale for implementation it would seem they are not going to bother with one.

The ABD has already submitted an objection, but the more they get, the better.

Roger Lawson

Bank Junction to be Closed?

The City of London Corporation is considering various options for changes to Bank road junction in the City. This is the key road junction outside the Bank of England which is the central hub of roads in the City and used by many bus routes. It is typically heavily congested and because of the narrow pavements is also the scene of many pedestrian accidents. Neither is it cyclist friendly of course. There were 118 casualties of all kinds in the last 5 years, mainly to pedestrians from them walking into the road while ignoring the traffic, including one fatality.

Two of the options considered in a report by the Corporation’s staff are complete closure, or the closure of all East-West movements, although they concede that the latter might not get the support of TfL. Other options include removing Poultry and Cornhill or simply reducing capacity by 50% on all arms.

But they are keen to remove all traffic other than buses and as a result enhance Bank as a “place”, effectively removing it from its purpose as part of the road network. An interim “experimental” scheme might allow pedal cycles and buses only through the junction during working hours, but there should be a full public consultation in due course. The overall view of the “Streets and Walkways” Sub-Committee who considered the proposals was that “the proposals should be supported, however the changes should not be at the expense of diminishing traffic flow through the city“. But how is that to be achieved is a key question.

Definitely a project to keep an eye on because this could be as damaging as the pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square, or the changes in the Aldgate area, to the road network in London. Removing road space in one location just moves the traffic onto other roads of course, which are typically already congested. Modelling of the result of a local scheme often ignores these wider impacts.

Roger Lawson