Work reopening Bank Junction to taxis begins despite successfully lowering accident casualties

Bank Junction
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)

Work begins on the experimental reopening of Bank Junction to Black Cabs after a temporary closure despite the number of casualties in accidents dropping. The City of London last month voted to remove restrictions which limit access to pedestrians, cyclists and buses from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday.

The scheme was introduced in 2017 in a bid to improve safety, after incidents including the death of 26-year-old Ying Tao who was crushed by an HGV.

A report compiled by City officers earlier this year recommended keeping the restrictions in place, after finding casualty figures had dropped substantially since their implementation with limited equalities impacts. At a Court of Common Council meeting in June, members however voted to allow taxis back into the junction at all times on a trial basis, citing concerns around local businesses and disabled access.

READ MORE: 'Timetable' revealed for trial reopening of Bank Junction to Black Cabs on weekdays

An indicative timetable published by the City details how it is hoped the experimental scheme will go live next May. It must first however be signed off by Transport for London (TfL), with a submission penned in for November. This is due to Poultry and Cornhill forming part of the Strategic Road Network, and because any changes are likely to have implications for other streets and junctions nearby for which it is the highway authority.

At a Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday, July 9), Common Councillor Mary Durcan asked whether it is likely TfL will approve the submission. She was told by an officer that TfL will need to be reassured that basics are still being considered, such as around safety and bus journey times not being materially impacted.

“They understand, they want to talk about it, there’s a lot of technical work to be done," she said.

Deputy Marianne Fredericks meanwhile queried how the experimental scheme is to be measured, and how success will be determined.

She said: “The report the officers gave us that went to Court was based on data, evidence, [an] independent report. The decision the Court ultimately took was based on anecdotal evidence, hearsay, perceived ideas, feelings, or whatever else you’d like to call it. And therefore I don't know quite how officers are going to measure how you see that junction working in getting disabled people through the junction.”

Deputy Fredericks continued to give the example of not knowing how many disabled people use the junction to get from A to B, meaning when it comes to reviewing the trial, it would be impossible to assess whether things have improved or gotten worse.

An officer said work needs to be done to define what the experiment is, though conceded some things they will not be able to record. Common Councillor Graham Packham, Chair of the committee, came in to add the decision of the Court was ‘decisive’, and that it is members’ duty to ‘go ahead with the trial’.

Cllr Packham continued to describe a number of considerations raised by Deputy Fredericks, such as the impacts on the wider area around Bank Junction, as ‘complicated’, with certain externalities out of scope.

“We can’t measure everything,” he said. “The network in the City is so complex, it has so many moving parts.”

Later in the exchange, Common Councillor Eamonn Mullally suggested that for the parent of someone who had lost their life at the junction, the issue would not be perceived as ‘complicated’. “I’d ask everybody here, and people who are listening, to put themselves in that position, because it’s really important that we understand that the big question is; what price is a life?”

According to the indicative timetable, the next few months will be spent working with TfL to agree a programme and on modelling for the trial. Members at the committee were told a meeting is in the process of being lined up between the Chair of Planning and Transportation, Deputy Shravan Joshi, and senior staff at both the City and TfL.

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