As the home of London’s hustling financial sector, the Square Mile is not known for moving slowly.
But for motorists, that could soon be about to change, after the City of London Corporation agreed to make it the first area in the country with a 15mph speed limit.
The plan, voted through by the Court of Common Council, the CLC’s most senior decision-making body, is part of a bid to make more efficient use of street space for pedestrians in the City. The CLC also hopes it will help cut harmful CO2 emissions by halving motor traffic over the next 25 years.
Now that the Court of Common Council has agreed on the 15mph proposal it will be forwarded for government approval.
It comes after research showed 90 per cent of all journeys made on the City’s streets are partially or entirely walked.
The so-called New Transport Strategy also includes proposals to improve conditions for cyclists by launching a six-month trial for dockless cycle hire in the Square Mile, run by two operators.
CLC Planning and Transportation committee chair Alastair Moss said: “The City of London is one of the most well-connected parts of the UK, with 15 Tube stations, seven Tube lines, eight mainline stations, multiple bus routes and a fast-evolving bicycle network.
“We are working tirelessly to support the 513,000 workers that commute to the Square Mile every day, and to deliver the forward-thinking City that Londoners want to see.
“These radical plans will ensure the continued success of not just the City, but wider London and the UK as a leading global business and cultural destination.”
Walking charity Living Streets' policy director Stephen Edwards called the move an “excellent intervention”.
“Slower speeds in highly congested areas where huge volumes of people are working are vital to ensuring people’s safety. If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 20mph they have a 97 per cent chance of survival. This reduces with every mile driven faster.
“Slower speeds not only save lives; they also contribute hugely to making people feel more comfortable walking. This will help encourage people to choose healthier and cleaner ways to travel.”
But City workers were not so sure.
Jez Cole, 57, a risk engineer at Chubb Insurance, told City A.M.: “It doesn’t sound like it would be enforceable, and the Square Mile isn’t terribly unsafe.
“People are quite cavalier crossing the road around here so perhaps there is something in it from a learning perspective.
“But unless there has been a spate of pedestrian deaths in the area, I can’t imagine it would make a blind bit of difference.
Alex Cater, 32, who works for an insurance company near the Gherkin, added: “I cycle to work and don’t feel like people drive too fast – it’s more of an awareness thing.
“From an air quality perspective I don’t know if slowing cars down would actually do anything. If it does, I could get behind it.”
Meanwhile Will Barlow, 24, a financial analyst, added: “I’d be surprised if anyone gets above 15mph in the Square Mile anyway.”