The City of London Corporation has extended public consultation on the UK’s first 24/7 zero emission street in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The City Corporation has introduced experimental traffic changes on Beech Street, which is a crucial axis of the Culture Mile which runs from Farringdon to Moorgate.
Throughout the experiment, only zero emission vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists are allowed to drive through Beech Street in order to improve air quality. Beech Street previously experienced high levels of air pollution as it is a busy, enclosed thoroughfare.
Exceptions are being provided for emergency vehicles, access to the car parks off Beech Street and for rubbish collection and deliveries.
Bus route 153, which is fully electric and runs down Beech Street, is unaffected by the experiment.
The initiative forms part of the City’s Low Emission Neighbourhood which delivered a host of pollution-reducing policies in the area, and was part funded with £1m from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund. The zero emission street is backed by Transport for London (TfL) and bordering borough councils.
The experiment is expected to deliver significant improvements in air quality and health benefits for pedestrians and cyclists on the street and in the surrounding area, including at Richard Cloudesley School and Prior Weston Primary School.
The experiment, which started in March 2020, will run for up to 18 months with consultation via phone call or videocall available for residents, businesses and road users.
The impact on air quality and traffic will be monitored and if the trial is deemed successful, the zero emission zone may become permanent.
Due to the impacts of Covid-19 the public consultation period has been extended to 27 January 2021 and the end date for this will be kept under review.
Vehicles are being rerouted via advance warnings and clear signage on the approach to the street.
The restrictions are being enforced with automatic number plate recognition cameras and, from 27 July 2020, a penalty charge notice will be issued to drivers who contravene the experimental traffic order.
The Beech Street experiment is just one part of the City Corporation’s goal to improve air quality.
Its Planning and Transportation Committee has backed proposals turn parts of the Square Mile into zero emissions zones and reduce motor traffic as part of its radical Transport Strategy.
It has already banned the purchase of diesel vehicles from its own vehicle fleet, where there is a clean market alternative.
The City Corporation is leading a London-wide crackdown on drivers who leave their engines idling and recently toughened its stance by agreeing to introduce Penalty Charge Notices and increase the fine for non-compliant drivers.
Its CityAir app provides over 30,000 Londoners with low pollution travel routes across the capital, with advice and alerts when air pollution is high.
And its emissions-based charges for on-street parking in the Square Mile targets high polluting transport with higher charges, while rewarding drivers of low emission vehicles with lower tariffs.