From today, Bank junction will be closed to all vehicles apart from buses. It’s a long-running trial, so here’s what you need to know about the changes…
Why is it being introduced?
The main concern here is to bolster safety at Bank junction and reduce casualties, hence this experimental safety scheme. Data from the City of London forecasts a reduction in casualties of between 50-60 per cent with the change, so around a dozen fewer casualties a year.
What improvements should it make?
Other than the expected safety improvement, it’s hoped the ban will improve air quality and traffic congestion.
How long will it last?
The closure of all entrances to the junction will be in place for up to 18 months and will be enforced from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday. Currently, 75% of collisions at Bank occur between those hours, according to the City of London.
Who is affected?
The junction will be limited to only buses and cyclists, so other vehicles aren't permitted during the specified hours. In case you missed the many protests over this, cab drivers aren’t happy at all. Taxis have been banned resulting in a series of protests by cab drivers over the proposal.
Why have taxis been included in the ban?
Steve McNamara, general secretary of taxi drivers’ union the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), has called the move 'the craziest scheme anyone has suggested for some time'. He added that buses have more accidents than taxis, which should mean they are excluded.
However, the City of London said that although cabs weren’t involved in a large number of accidents, they do ramp up congestion which, in turn, makes the junction more dangerous.
How big an impact will it have on taxis?
This remains to be seen, though e-hailing taxi app Mytaxi has said its passengers begin or end thousands of journeys in the Bank junction area each month.
The City of London said it is has been adding a number of new taxi ranks and including an extension of the existing ranks in the surrounding area. And vehicles will still be able to drop people off near the junction.
It also said there will be no change for travellers with accessibility issues being able to reach local properties.
Any way of getting it changed?
Well, the car ban at Bank will be kept under regular review, so depending on what impact the changes have, the City of London may decide to keep the ban, tweak it, or overhaul it altogether during, or at the end of, the trial.
Chris Hayward, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s planning and transportation committee, said:
A final decision on whether the scheme is to be made permanent will be made when we assess the success of this scheme following a formal public consultation, but ultimately we want to do all we can to make sure we don’t see a fatality at this junction in the future.
Where will I go instead?
Drivers will be re-routed by advanced warning signs. The City of London Corporation and TfL have been working to ensure that surrounding roads aren’t negatively impacted by the remodelled junction.
What will happen if I flout the rule change?
For the first few weeks, drivers who break the ban will receive warning letters, but after that, automatic number plate recognition software will be used to identify drivers and give them penalty notices.
The penalty will be £130, reduced to £65 if paid within two weeks of the issue date.
Could the review lead to even more changes?
Potentially. The City of London has been mulling full pedestrianisation of Bank during working hours for a while now. Though if this went ahead, it wouldn’t come into effect until 2020 at the earliest.
This article originally appeared on City AM.