An iconic spot in the heart of the City is likely to get even more pedestrian friendly as politicians agreed to press ahead with closing more roads around the Bank of England and Mansion House to improve safety.
The number of pedestrians at the junction has increased by a quarter since 2015 and is expected to grow further still over the next 10 years.
Transport experts said the number of people using the streets made it “quite uncomfortable at peak periods”.
Last year, the City Corporation tested out closing the busy Bank Junction to most traffic between 7am and 7pm on weekdays in a bid to improve safety and air quality following the death of cyclist Ying Tao in 2015.
The move was so successful it has become permanent, and now only buses and bikes are allowed to use the junction during the restricted hours.
The authority says it will develop a plan to give pedestrians and cyclists priority in the junction, and could further restrict traffic on two or three of the feeder streets near the Bank of England, such as Threadneedle Street.
The City is also looking at putting in better seating, shaded areas, and extending the open space offering for office workers and visitors.
It plans to get the work finished by 2021, well in time for the end of London Underground’s work to improve capacity at Bank station, which has several entrances at the junction.
The options for the ‘All Change at Bank’ plan were put on hold while the City tested out its beefed up safety measures.
Some councillors would like to close the junction to vehicles entirely at certain times.
The City’s streets and walkways sub committee said that any such changes would be discussed in the future. They also ruled out a third option to widen pavements.
Marianne Fredericks (Tower) urged councillors to be bold and work towards shutting the junction to all traffic eventually.
“We know that to encourage people working and living in the City we need to provide a safe, clean environment.”
Deputy Keith Bottomley (Bridge & Bridge Without) said one of the key issues was whether Transport for London could re-route bus services around the junction.
The move was welcomed by City workers soaking up the sun on their lunch break, although not all of them realised cars were already banned during the working day.
A pension fund trustee, who said he had noticed an increase in traffic in the City since he started working there in the 1970s, said: “It will be pretty much impossible to get into the City by car, but I think it’s a move in the right direction.”
Bank worker Kareem Joseph added: “If it’s going to increase safety then it should be carried out.”
Carla Onugha said: “Widening the pavements is a really good idea because footfall is so high. I have seen near misses.
“Near Bank station there’s always something going on or something about to happen.”
The plans are to be voted on at the next Court of Common Council meeting.
Main Photo by Matt Brown (Creative Commons).