LCC & Living Streets say Bank Taxi protest “misguided”

Walking and cycling charities London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets are today uniting to give their full backing to the City of London Corporation, as taxi drivers begin demonstrating against the City’s plans to close Bank junction to all motor vehicle traffic bar buses during the daytime.

The two groups say that the proposals must go ahead to save lives and improve conditions for workers and visitors in the City.

Hundreds of LCC supporters and members protested at the junction in June 2015 following the death there of cyclist Ying Tao, in a collision with a lorry. The junction and its immediate surrounds has been the scene of more than 100 collisions in the past 5 years including 17 serious or fatal ones.

“This is not about cars versus bicycles, or pedestrians versus taxis. It’s about stopping more terrible fatalities, celebrating the City’s iconic buildings and spaces, and making the area a hugely more attractive place to work, do business and visit. That’s good for everyone - including those taxi drivers misguidedly protesting today, whose journey times through the area are actually set to improve when these plans go ahead,” said Ashok Sinha, CEO of the London Cycling Campaign.

“The vast majority of people using Bank Junction are on foot – 18,000 in the morning peak. For everyone walking and cycling there, Bank Junction is woefully inadequate. It’s hugely polluted, overcrowded and unsafe - as demonstrated by its shocking casualty record. These changes will improve Bank Junction for everyone who works, lives and visits the City by making it a safer and healthier place,” said Tompion Platt, Head of Policy and Communications, Living Streets.

The City of London’s thorough report into its proposals notes that 75% of the casualties arising from collisions are suffered during the period where most motor vehicles would now be banned, and estimates over 50% casualty reductions would be achieved by the proposed scheme.

The same report also notes that the proposed scheme will not significantly affect loading, servicing and pick-up/drop-off arrangements near the junction; and that allowing taxis to pass through the junction would be worse in terms of journey times across the area for all users including taxis, compared to doing nothing to the junction.

Steve McNamara of the LTDA told the City's Transport & Planning Committee that the organisation “totally accepts something needs to be done at Bank and many other junctions,” and that Bank junction is “not a good place to be”. Yet if taxi drivers are exempted from the planned restrictions, the scheme will simply swap one type of congestion for another, according to the modelling.

For these reasons, London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets call on taxi drivers to abandon their protest. Blocking the junction with highly-polluting diesel vehicles will only demonstrate how much change is needed, and quickly, not just to save lives by avoiding collisions, but to improve one of the most iconic areas of the City for everyone.