Lorries, cars and taxis are to be banned from one of London’s most notorious junctions in a radical bid to improve safety.
The City of London Corporation today outlined plans to transform Bank junction, where Oxbridge graduate Ying Tao was killed in a HGV collision six months ago as she cycled to work.
However Transport for London, which has the final say, said approval would only be granted if it could be sure the changes would not bring central London roads to gridlock.
Under proposals that could be implemented on a temporary basis within a year, only buses and cyclists would be allowed to use the six-arm junction in the heart of the Square Mile between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.
Drivers would be diverted away from the junction by “no entry” signs on approach roads, with any who failed to comply being issued with £130 fines.
Iain Simmons, the City Corporation’s “All change at Bank” project director, said: “Bank is surrounded by these magnificent buildings – the Bank of England, Royal Exchange and Mansion House – but it’s the most appalling place.”
There were 105 collisions in the area in the five years to last November, resulting in 118 casualties, 16 of them serious and one involving the death of a pedestrian who was hit by a bus. Half the victims were pedestrians, a third were cyclists and the remainder were motorcyclists.
“We are confident we can reduce casualties by at least half,” Mr Simmons said. “The only people who are getting killed or seriously injured at Bank are vulnerable road users.”
Research by the City Corporation found that during the 8am-9am rush hour, 18,000 people cross the junction. There are now as many people on bikes as in cars, due to a 130 per cent rise in cycle commuters in the last five years.
The junction is regarded by Corporation officials as “completely dysfunctional”. Computer modelling has suggested that preventing vehicles from getting stuck at Bank would reduce congestion across the Square Mile.
TfL is not expected to decide until next Spring or summer whether to approve the traffic ban. The City Corporation wants TfL to redesign nearby Monument junction, where there have been 78 collisions causing 93 casualties in five years, 12 of them serious, to make the Bank changes work more effectively.
Michael Welbank, chairman of the City Corporation’s transportation committee, denied mounting a “war” on drivers. “We are just fanning the flames of something that is already started,” he said.
“Cars are the problem. We are divvying it up to benefit the main users of our streets. They are pedestrians. It’s pedestrians that have lost out.”
A TfL spokeswoman said it backed the changes in principle but would undertake its own modelling. “As much as we are fully supportive of the Bank project, we are responsible for the whole of London’s road network and making sure that traffic flows,” she said.
Leon Daniels, managing director of TfL surface transport, said: “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.”