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

Bank Junction
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)

The City of London is hoping to reopen Bank Junction to Black Cabs on a trial basis from May next year, an indicative timetable has revealed. The Corporation had previously said it was aiming for ‘Spring 2025’ following its decision to remove the current restrictions at a Court of Common Council meeting last month.

The live scheme, introduced in mid-2017, limits Bank Junction to pedestrians, buses and cyclists between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday. Prior to its implementation, the junction was the most dangerous in the Square Mile. In 2015, 26-year-old Ying Tao died after being crushed by an HGV while riding to work.

A report presented to the Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee in June recommended keeping the restrictions in-place, after a review had been ordered due to concerns over equalities impacts. The report concluded that casualty figures had dropped substantially since the scheme had been introduced, and that it “has not led to any extensive negative impacts on equality and the impacts on the restrictions outside of these hours is deemed to be negligible”.

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The committee agreed with the officers’ findings, though at the Court meeting an amended motion proposed by the Chair of Planning, Deputy Shravan Joshi, suggesting a trial be pursued was approved by members.

The City has since begun work on the reintroduction of Black Cabs, and published an indicative timetable ahead of next week’s Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee (July 9).

Notable entries include the expectation that the proposed traffic model will be submitted to Transport for London (TfL) in November this year for sign-off. Approval from TfL is necessary for the trial to go ahead 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.

The timetable also has a ‘May 2025’ date down as to when the experimental scheme is expected to go live, with the intention it will run for up to 18 months before a decision is made on its success.

In a separate document, the City notes the costs of the trial are still being finalised, though acknowledges there is a need for more internal resource than is currently available. Officers wrote: “Consideration as to how this is managed, for example by reprioritising other work or through additional consultancy support is taking place. Additional resource may be required within the parking enforcement team to implement and manage the change to the enforcement of the restrictions for the experiment. Discussions as to what might be required is taking place.”

Other potential issues flagged include that TfL may not approve the application, as well as any potential legal challenges. £150,000 has been set aside for this eventuality.

Peter Murray, an architect and cycling campaigner who has fought the plans to fully reopen Bank Junction to taxis, said: "This seems a highly optimistic schedule taking into account that traffic lights across the City will need adjustment, the pedestrian crossing times reduced, safety issues investigated. Add to this the fact that the decision cuts across TfL’s main concerns about safety and bus times, they’re in for a long haul."

Mr Murray added he will be watching how things proceed 'very closely' regarding a potential legal challenge. "The Court ignored the factual evidence in the officers’ report supporting no change, and instead gave too much weight to hearsay and anecdotal evidence," he said. "It ignored the Corporation's duty under the Highways Act to reduce and prevent accidents."

Following the vote to pursue a trial last month, Deputy Joshi said: “The overall work programme at Bank Junction has meant that the junction is already a safer, more pleasant environment to travel through and we will carefully monitor the impact of re-introducing taxis into this vibrant area.

“For those unable to use modes of active travel, or who need transportation when public services aren’t available, Black Cabs have the potential to enhance this public space in line with our Destination City policy to make the Square Mile a desirable, safe and inclusive visitor destination, boosting economic growth.”

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