“Dysfunctional, dangerous, dirty, congested, and polluting,” and “unsuitable” for a 21st Century city; that’s the damning verdict of a senior official at the City of London Corporation as it announces radical plans to overhaul Bank Junction, where a cyclist was killed earlier this year.
The site of protests by the London Cycling Campaign and Stop Killing Cyclists earlier this year after 26-year-old Ying Tao was killed in June when she was hit by a tipper truck on her way to work, all motor vehicles other than buses are set to be banned from the junction by this time next year.
London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has welcomed the plans, but has urged that the plans be brought forward. However, the City of London Corporation says that major works taking place in the Square Mile make that impossible.
The Corporation’s Streets & Walkways Committee is due to meet on Monday 30 November to get under way a process that will transform one of London’s busiest – and, for cyclists, most dangerous – junctions.
The plans were leaked at the end of last month, as reported here on road.cc, but the rhetoric employed in today’s official press release is an eye-opener and perhaps represents a tipping point in how the City of London, at least, views the future of how people get around.
Michael Welbank, chairman of the Corporation’s Planning & Transportation Committee gave as damning a verdict of the interchange as any we have heard from someone in public office.
He said: “Bank Junction is dysfunctional, dangerous, dirty, congested, and polluting. It is grossly inefficient for traffic, unsafe for pedestrians, with too many people milling around in a space design for horses and carts.
“This is completely inappropriate to form the heart of a modern city. We are committed to changing this, and making Bank a truly wonderful place for people to safely enjoy.
“The safety of all our road users is of paramount importance to us, especially pedestrians and cyclists.
“This is a radical step which will help reduce the number of tragic casualties within the Square Mile and make Bank a practical public space, and improve traffic flow in the City.”
Initially, the Corporation plans to put in place an interim traffic order that will bar the junction to all traffic other than bicycles and buses, but it says that due to disruption caused by works associated with Crossrail and the Cycle Superhighways, that won’t be possible until November 2016.
After that, it says there will be a full re-design of the junction, which it says currently used by approximately 18,000 pedestrians, 1,600 cyclists, 1,400 cars and 220 buses in the morning rush hour alone each day.
“The short-term scheme will focus on the safety benefits,” says the Corporation. “Removing cars from the equation will not only create more space for pedestrians and cyclists, the City’s most vulnerable road users, but modelling work done in conjunction with TfL has shown that it will actually increase the efficiency of car journeys throughout the City, as they will no longer be competing for space with so many buses and cyclists.
“It will also improve journey times for buses and make bus journeys through the junction easier.
“The scheme will also contribute to a significant improvement in air quality around the area.
“Local agreements will be in place to enable necessary access to buildings on the junction, and the City intends to provide improved drop-off and pick-up facilities exclusively for black cabs at the Bank junction.
“The City will be looking for TfL funding for the project, so the modelling data will be submitted to TfL.
“Throughout the design stage of the project, the modelling will be extensively examined to ensure that the eventual scheme has the greatest safety benefits and acceptable impacts on the wider road network.
“The TfL funding would come from the Local Implementation Plan fund, which funds projects that support the Mayor’s Transport Strategy locally,” the Corporation adds.
It says that it may take five years for the full re-design of the junction to be translated into reality.
Leon Daniels, managing director of TfL surface transport, commented: “We are working with the City of London and other partners to develop and assess options for a complete redesign of Bank Junction, which aims to transform the junction into a safer and better environment that all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians can enjoy.
“We are supporting the City in delivering a scheme that will help reduce the number of collisions and ensure safer routes and improve bus journey times.”
LCC applauded the proposals, but wants them implemented as soon as possible to improve safety at the junction.
The group’s infrastructure campaigner, Simon Munk, said: “The plans for Bank are hugely welcome news, following the London Cycling Campaign’s protest at this dangerous and overcrowded junction.
“But we urge the City of London and TfL to try and bring as much of this important scheme forwards as soon as possible. No one wants another fatality while we wait.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.