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Bank junction: taxis fight for access

Taxis want to drive through Bank all hours and some in the City support them, it's a terrible idea


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The City of London recently voted to allow taxis back to cut-through Bank Junction on a trial basis, reversing safety gains previously won by LCC. We’ve fought the new decision and we’ll continue to fight it, with your help.

What’s going on at Bank?

On Thursday 20 June, the City of London’s Court of Common Council, the highest decision-making body in the corporation, voted strongly in favour of trialling returning taxi access to Bank junction all hours of the day. This trial is set to start in “Spring 2025” following TfL approval.

This reverses the ‘Bank on Safety’ trial scheme introduced in 2017, where for the past seven years only TfL Buses and those cycling have been able to go through the middle of Bank junction during the hours of 7am-7pm Monday to Friday. This ‘bus gate’ scheme broadly mirrors similar schemes found on Bishopsgate, in Hackney on Stoke Newington Church Street and in places like Waltham Forest.

Why were changes made originally?

The original ‘Bank on Safety’ scheme, that was later superseded by the ‘All Change at Bank’ scheme, was put into motion following the death of 26 year old cyclist Ying Tao at Bank in 2015 and an LCC protest at the junction.

Our 2015 protest galvanised action in the City and a recognition that the junction was lethally dangerous. The officers’ report from the initial period not only highlighted the risk to those cycling from facing a junction with heavy traffic movements and seven arms, with complex signals, but also to those walking and wheeling on crowded pavements only set to worsen when the Elizabeth Line opened passing through the area.

The resulting schemes that followed have successfully reduced the collision rate at Bank to very low levels. So it’s shocking that some in the City now apparently want to reintroduce road danger here.

What’s the beef with taxis?

Despite all the changes to Bank since the original trial – including permanent pavement realignments and filters for some arms of the junction – taxis can still park and rank right up to the junction. Stand at the junction and you can even still see taxis in the daytime turning right next to the junction.

As per City’s own incredibly thorough officers’ reports, there is little impact on availability, access or journey times for taxis in the area around Bank and to the buildings fringing the junction directly.

The proposals are then clearly not about Disabled people, or access to Bank for them, despite the London Taxi Driver Association’s letters and submissions. This is about taxis being able to cut-through Bank to complete their journeys – and they’re fighting this not even for their own journey times, but more it appears as a ‘wedge’ issue or principle. Having lost very similar fights already with TfL at Bishopsgate and indeed for Cycleway C3 along the Embankment, they’re picking a ‘softer’ target in the City.

The mass return of so many taxis cutting through Bank during the peak traffic periods will significantly increase road danger for those walking and cycling at the junction, as well as potentially impact bus journeys through the area. The City’s own officers’ report clearly states these issues their own Planning & Transportation Committee already voted to support the report’s findings.

Allowing taxis back in, even on a trial basis, is a massive lurch backwards for the City itself – which has a bold and visionary transport strategy and a bold City Plan – both of which the City’s politicians have been dithering over already.

While the City tries to reinvent itself following Brexit and Covid, as not solely reliant on financial markets, it risks undermining progress it has made on building places people want to be, and prioritising healthy modes of travel. It won’t be a nice piazza for City workers to have lunch in – as it is now and has been since the original scheme went in – if it’s filled with taxis.

What we did

We spoke to BBC London News and BBC London Radio ahead of the decision opposing the changes.


Youtube preview
BBC interviews LCC CEO at Bank

We supported Peter Murray, OBE, prominent architect and founder of New London Architecture with his #DontBreakBank campaign. We worked with our community partners Wheels for Wellbeing to reinforce the message that the City of London needs to do more for disabled people: keeping Bank junction closed to taxis is a minimum. We supported a protest outside the Guildhall ahead of the decision, and we sent the letter below to all Councillors in the Court of Common Council.


Family picnic and protest

Protesters for #DontBreakBank

LCC Letter to Councillors about Bank

We are writing to you to express our dismay at the way decision-making regarding the Bank junction scheme(s) is being handled by the City of London.

The LTDA and other organisations lobbying on behalf of the taxi industry are seeking to persuade City Councillors of the merits of taxi access through Bank junction, at all times. There is nothing wrong in itself with the taxi industry advancing such a view – but we have serious concerns that some in Court of Common Council appear set to make a decision based on unfounded arguments, contrary to the City’s own policies and against the advice of its own expert officers and their presented data, as well as against the recommendations of your own Planning & Transportation committee.

Not only does the City’s officers’ report refute the arguments of the LTDA and others on the necessity for taxi drivers to be able to cut directly through Bank junction at all hours (taxis already can rank and stop near the junction at all times, as well as drive through for some of the day). The report also makes clear the negative impacts such a move would have on the CIty’s own transport strategy, the amenity of Disabled people not inside taxis, road safety in general and indeed the risks to bus amenity from such an approach.

You have a commendable transport strategy that will now be undermined by increased road danger and reduced amenity at Bank. Furthermore, you also have a new City Plan 2040 in consultation that will again by undermined, by permitting taxi traffic through Bank at all times.

Collectively, councillors who vote in favour of changing access will be doing so in response not to officers’ and Planning and Transportation Committee recommendations but instead the opinions of the LTDA and others – opinions that have significantly overplayed the very limited benefits and underplayed the significant negatives the officers’ report lays out for more taxi access through Bank. This would not be an appropriate way to handle planning for the future by the City’s foremost decision-making body.

We urge you to collectively not only reject proposed changes to access to Bank, but go further:

  • Rapidly move to reinforce the transport strategy with actions, delivering more schemes faster in order to ensure the City fulfils a visionary strategy designed not only to take appropriate action on road danger, climate emissions, pollution etc. but also to ensure the City retains its prominence internationally.
  • Rapidly move to put lobbying across contentious but important areas such as transport in the City on a transparent and fair footing – if Cllrs are happy to meet and be lobbied by representatives of the taxi trade, they should also be regularly meeting other transport organisations. Indeed, such lobbying should be done on the public record.

The City faces a critical juncture with Bank junction: does it move forward progressively to urgently take action on its own evidence and policies? Or does it undermine its own policies and vision of a people-friendly heart of London. We urge you to collectively move forward with a Bank junction and transport planning approach that is fit for the future – rather than a lurch backwards that risks another serious or fatal collision, and turning Bank from piazza to disaster.

LCC Official Statement on Decision

“We are incredibly disappointed in the decision made by the City’s Court of Common Council, voting against its own Planning & Transportation Committee and officers’ report which made clear that this retrogressive move will not improve Bank for taxi passengers or drivers, let alone anyone else.

“Indeed, the likelihood is that if this trial does go ahead, there’ll be increased road danger for those walking and cycling, delays to buses, and we’ll see fewer people ambling, sitting, snacking at Bank and a wall of cabs instead.

“This goes against the City’s own transport strategy and City Plan 2040. The Court of Common Council promises the trial will be closely monitored, and won’t start until Spring 2025, and requires TfL approval. We hope the City sees sense well before then – it needs to spend more time moving forward on its bold commitments on climate, transport and place, and needs to spend less time revisiting old decisions at the behest of angry cabbies.”

What next?

The fight doesn’t end here. It seems likely that TfL Buses will want extensive modelling of any impacts for them – and certainly TfL and the Mayor will likely have something to say about the matter to the City, but also the approach will only be on a trial basis.

We and others will be continuing to press our case to avoid the inevitable collisions that will ensue.

It is a horrible prospect, but be assured that if a collision happens, we’re not going to sit back and ignore road danger increasing just because the LTDA and cabbies think cycling’s an easy target.

Help in City of London

We are actively looking for new campaigning group members in the City of London. Do you live or work in this area? Do you have any spare time to help us develop or be involved in an LCC local group in the City? We'd love to hear from you at city@lcc.org.uk

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Triah and Jo, Cycle Buddies