Bank junction is one of the City’s most iconic spots. The Bank of England, the Mansion House and Royal Exchange make it an instantly recognisable place.
However, those who try and pass through – whether on foot, on bicycle or by vehicle – know that it is incredibly busy, especially at peak travel times. Many just want to get through the junction as quickly as possible, rather than taking the time to stop and enjoy it. On top of this, it is the most dangerous area in the City for road users.
That is why, at the end of last year, the City of London Corporation approved an experimental safety scheme, limiting vehicle journeys through the junction between the hours of 7am and 7pm during the week. This scheme will start in April and last up to 18 months. Under our plans, only buses and cyclists will be able to travel through the road junction during these times.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, and is one that has been taken after careful consideration and in close discussion with the local community, businesses and residents.
Our reason for doing this ultimately comes down to improving safety at the junction. Our data forecasts a reduction in casualties of between 50-60 per cent. This will mean around a dozen fewer casualties a year. Currently, 75 per cent of collisions at Bank occur between 7am and 7pm and we want to do all we can to make sure we don’t see a fatality at this junction in the future.
As well as improving the safety of road users and pedestrians and reducing casualties, we also want to improve air quality and tackle the issue of traffic congestion.
All the extensive traffic modelling we have done in conjunction with Transport for London shows that the average vehicle journey times in the vicinity will be improved, or at very least maintained, under our scheme.
Later today, representatives of the black taxi industry will protest at the junction, blocking traffic in objection to our plans. My message to them is that we want to continue to support taxis to trade effectively in the City and we are helping them by adding a number of new taxi ranks and including an extension of the existing ranks in the surrounding area.
Vehicles will still be able to drop people off near the junction, just as they can do at the moment with the existing road barriers. And I would stress that there will be no change for travellers with accessibility issues being able to access local properties.
I have committed to review the scheme as soon as is practically possible after the launch. But I really believe that our proposals will mean the roads around Bank become safer, cleaner, and a more efficient part of the Square Mile.