Many major cities across the world have taken steps to improving safety for all road users, whatever their method of transportation, in areas of high volume traffic. Consider New York’s Times Square, for example. Traffic-choked streets were replaced with pedestrian ‘plazas’ starting in 2009, provoking initial discontent with former motor traffic users of the area, but in the long term, it was proved to be a safe solution to an area which attracts high volume footfall, not only from local workers and residents, but travellers and tourists.
If we take a look at London, it’s easy to spot the pinch points for traffic congestion. 6-Way Bank Junction is one of those major pinch points in the City. It has also been the location of serious road accidents, with cyclists too often being seriously, and sometimes fatally injured.
Back in 2015, consultations and proposals to alleviate the Bank Junction traffic were widely reported, and the City Corporation began promoting a scheme entitled Bank on Safety, detailing measures to improve public road user safety, travel times (it was proposed to undertake Bank Station upgrades concurrently to surface improvements), air quality and motor traffic flow around the proposed exclusion zone.
On Tuesday, the Bank Junction proposal to exclude all motor traffic except buses and bikes during business hours was approved at the City’s Planning & Transportation committee, 14-0 – a unanimous decision. I sat in the public gallery to watch the debate unfold. It was over an hour of detailed and thoughtful presentations by officers, 5 outside bodies including the taxi drivers organisation and comments by 9 members. A good airing of views with no-one disagreeing that something had to be done about this pinch point.
Today, the proposals head for Policy and Resources Committee and there will be a temporary trial scheme (12-18 months) likely to start in the Spring of 2017, with close monitoring throughout to ensure that the maximum benefit is gained by all users, before a decision is made on permanent exclusions or usage amendments.
In 2017, through the duration of the trial scheme, we will hopefully be able to see a drastic cut in the number of road traffic accidents; a less polluted area of our historic City during peak hours; and truly be able to develop a pioneering road safety scheme of which the City and all its users can be proud. The trial will enable all users to offer their opinion and suggestions for any permanent scheme – and it’s important that the City hears feedback on how the trial works to ensure the best route forward for all in 2018 and beyond!