The exclusion of through traffic at Bank Junction in the City of London has received overwhelming support in a public consultation survey carried out by the Corporation, while a further study shows that the junction is now safer, less polluted and does not unreasonably impact on traffic flow.
The temporary experiment, which began in May last year, banned all vehicles apart from buses and cycles between the hours of 7am and 7pm. If the findings of the reports are accepted, the changes will be made permanent.
75 per cent of 3730 respondents ‘supported’ or ‘generally supported’ the changes. Of those 17 per cent wanted further positive improvements such as extending the scheme to 24hrs, wider pavements and better signposting, while 12 per cent wanted to allow black cabs and other vehicles back into the junction, 70 per cent of whom identified themselves as taxi or private hire drivers. The Ned Hotel, concerned about deliveries and taxi drop-offs called for black cabs to be permitted to use the junction at all times.
As might be expected 90 per cent of pedestrians and cyclists supported the scheme while every other mode gave over 50 per cent support - except for taxi and commercial drivers. Businesses and groups who were supportive included the City Property Association (CPA) which represents 150 firms working in the City, British Land, Shanghai Commercial Bank, WBRC Insurance and Welltower Health Care.
In their response to the survey the CPA said that the scheme ‘should be retained as a new benchmark for the minimum standard of what should be acceptable for air quality and road safety for vulnerable road users in Central London’. Property giant British Land suggested that such initiatives have a ‘very positive’ impact on the City’s image as a contemporary business location.
The London Cycling Campaign asked that over the longer term, all motor vehicles should be removed from the junction and the space turned into a public plaza.
A second study on the performance of the changes found that there had been a 40 per cent reduction in casualties compared to average equivalent periods in the five previous years. The study also found that buses that used Bank were actually travelling faster than before the changes, saving between three and five minutes on a journey, and that there has been a marked improvement in NO2 levels, although further changes are needed if the area is to meet EU annual average limits.
The reports, which will be presented to the Streets and Walkways Sub Committee on April 10, suggest that the improvements have met the Corporation’s performance criteria and that there is sufficient support for making the scheme permanent. A final decision will be made by the Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee on July 5.
Peter Murray, commenting on London, architecture, cycling and cities