The TfL consultation on changes around Liverpool Street station on Bishopsgate closes soon, with the deadline of Monday 10 October 2022. This is one of the most ‘controversial’ schemes London has seen in a long time, with taxi driver organisations having fought legal battles over the scheme. If you also have opinions on the scheme (whether those views chime with those of taxi drivers or oppose them), we urge you to respond to the consultation today:
The survey takes less than 5 minutes to complete and given the history of the scheme, its complexity, and the strategic location of it, we think it is really important everyone gets their say on the scheme and the future of Bishopsgate and the City areas surrounding it. Below we lay out why we think it’s a good scheme and what can be done to improve it. But if you only have a couple minutes, hit the consultation link, support the scheme and tell TfL and the City to extend times of operation and do more on surrounding streets too!
The Bishopsgate scheme is actually quite simple: a series of ‘bus gates’ run along Bishopsgate itself that only allow through buses and cycles. They are using number plate “ANPR” cameras to exclude private motor vehicles from sections of the road from Liverpool Street station to London Bridge from Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm. London Bridge itself then also excludes some private motor traffic for the same times. On Bishopsgate, the only vehicles allowed during operating hours are buses and cycles; on the bridge, taxis and motorbikes are also included. The scheme is also nearby the famous City Bank Junction changes which also exclude private motor traffic from the junction at the same times.
It’s important to understand however, that side roads and main roads crossing Bishopsgate still remain available to private motor traffic during operating hours.
Along the Bishopsgate stretch, some pavements have also been widened using temporary materials, so far – if the scheme is retained, these would likely be improved with more permanent materials, and crossings could also likely be retimed for pedestrians etc.
The result of the current is that for much of the week, and during key commuter times, Bishopsgate, and London Bridge and the area around Bank are no longer available for private motor vehicles driving through the area. The schemes mean that buses aren’t held up in congestion and the roads are far calmer for cycling, walking and wheeling. Together they represent a radical shift away from the previous dominance of private motor vehicles driving in and through the City.
Taxi drivers are most visibly incensed by these changes. They argued in court that their inability to use Bishopsgate as a through route and their inability to drop disabled taxi passengers on the short stretches of Bishopsgate they cannot access without incurring fines, was unlawful, as was the way the scheme was delivered. Happily, the judge disagreed.
It is important when considering the complaints of the taxi trade to understand two things: firstly, the ‘status quo’ impact of roads as they were prior to schemes going in; secondly, that the impacts on all road users, but particularly those with ‘protected characteristics’ in law such as disabled people, of new schemes is not as simple as taxi access everywhere always being beneficial – despite what some taxi drivers claim.
Most roads in London not only remain horrible to walk, cycle and wheel on, catch the bus on, even drive on – but they also remain so for most disabled people and others with protected characteristics. Our motor dominated city is slowly changing to enable people to get around without resorting to a car. And while we must campaign carefully and empathically for changes to not impact negatively those who cannot cycle, must use taxis etc. we all must also recognise for instance that more car and taxi access to every metre of our streets is not necessarily good for the broad sweep of disabled people either.
In this specific case, for instance, the sheer number of taxis on Bishopsgate prior to the scheme, including a huge majority carrying non-disabled people who could travel by other modes quite easily in a lot of cases, was slowing down buses and causing danger to those walking, wheeling and cycling. And of course, only a minority of disabled people use taxis – disabled Londoners are far more likely to use buses or walk, or wheel, on the pavement. Taxi access has been retained to Liverpool Street station, across Bishopsgate regularly, and the maximum distances taxi users on Bishopsgate have to travel to reach front doors are far lower than distances we see designed in all over London.
We urge anyone responding to the consultation to tell TfL it doesn’t go far enough. Most obviously, the area covered remains horrible now in the evenings – with those walking, wheeling and cycling around Liverpool Street facing very crowded spaces and aggressive traffic well into the evening. On top of extended hours (and weekends), there are two further obvious suggestions:
Pavement widening should be extended to other areas, crossing times should be extended and (this is probably a longer term ask) cycle tracks should be built where possible. In other words, overcrowded pavements and overcrowded cycle boxes at traffic lights demonstrate there’s more to do to make this road less hostile for active travel.
Finally, more schemes are needed on top – taking the City’s own Transport Strategy maps it’s possible to see there are several other schemes needed nearby. But more, looking at walking and cycling flows and collisions, many of the cross-streets and major junctions along Bishopsgate remain far too hostile and dangerous – including the Wormwood Street/Camomile Street junction, Leadenhall/Cornhill junction, and the Monument junction, but also beyond the scheme boundaries, to the north with the ‘Shoreditch Triangle junctions with Great Eastern Street/Commercial Street, with Bethnal Green Road and with Old Street/Hackney Road, as well as across the bridge to the south.
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