Monday, 24 October 2011

Cycle through Bank junction? Tell the City what you think about it

I've always hated cycling through Bank junction.

My pet hates include:

If you use the new cycle route towards Bank from Lombard Street- turning towards Bank means you're forced to weave between queuing motor vehicles

Exiting the junction into roads like Prince's Street (next to Bank of England) is nasty. It's narrow, there are usually a couple of very impatient buses and taxis trying to beat you there

Some of the manoeuvres are just plain horrible. There are traffic flows in every direction and you're stuck there on a bicycle trying not to get hit by buses, HGVs, taxis.

And, finally, it is often very difficult to actually get to the junction on a bicycle. At rush hour, queues of motor traffic take up so much space you have to either whizz round the outside of the motor traffic on the opposite side of the road or get off and push.

All in all - nasty place, designed around motor vehicles above all else. It's rubbish to cross as a pedestrian (Cheapside to Royal Exchange involves crossing FIVE roads and waiting forever), it's dangerous for cycling and is one of the most dangerous places in the City. This map here shows all collisions with pedestrians and cyclists to 2007.

The City of London sent me an email over the weekend. It wants feedback on the junction from cyclists, pedestrians and other people who use the space. There's an online form. It takes 2 minutes to fill out.

My own view?

Turn Bank junction into something like Times Square, New York. This idea was first floated on twitter. Essentially, Times Square was remodelled, with bike lanes and pedestrian areas taking the place of some of the roads. And it's about to get another update, with yet more motor traffic diverted away from it. Perfect.

Private motor traffic should be diverted away from the junction as much as possible. Something rather like they've done in this town in the Netherlands:

Works for pedestrians by makingt the streets calmer, easy to cross and brings some life back to an otherwise nasty place. Works for dirvers by giving them a route that is sufficiently useful. Works for cyclists by giving them safer routes that they can actually access. But you have to actually force private motor vehicles to take another route. Thus far, the City has been shy of doing that. If you look at Cheapside, which is a feeder road into Bank junction, the concept was to make Cheapside 'greatly benefit cyclists and pedestrians'.
Improve Bank junction? Maybe start by closing
Cheapside off to private motor traffic
Private motor vehicles would be 'encouraged' to avoid Cheapside. In reality, all that's happened is it's even worse for cycling. There's just as much motor traffic as there was before but now the road is narrower, so you get 'buzzed' by HGVs and buses (like the chap on his bike in this picture). Or you get stuck behind a queue of motor vehicles going nowhere, taking up the whole street and unable to access the traffic lights. Even on Queen Victoria Street, which is wide enough for 2 x bus lane, 2 x proper cycle track and motor vehicles lanes, the road is designed so you're basically stuck on your tod between two buses at rush hour. Completely motor-centric design.

Give motor vehicles proper routes and give pedestrians and cyclists proper routes too. At the moment what you've got is proper routes for motor vehicles, nice paving for pedestrians but the fundamentals are still crap for pedestrians and cyclists.

I'd urge you to spend two minutes filling out the questionnaire linked below:

"The City of London is preparing a strategy for improving the streets and spaces in the Bank area and is seeking your views. We want to know what works well in the streets and spaces, what doesn't and what would make the area work better for you?

We would like views from all users of the area, whether you walk, cycle, take the bus, or drive through Bank. Your comments will be used to focus the direction of the emerging strategy to help improve the area for you."

Choose how to respond:

> Take a few minutes to complete a short online questionnaire Here

> Leave your comments and upload your photos and videos at

> email your comments to

Comments to be received by 28th November 2011


  1. Done.
    Thanks for posting the links and thank god they are finally taking a look at Bank.
    The whole junction is half of a crawl and half a white knuckle ride for cyclists in general (and a hail mary for anyone wanting to turn right from any direction) and squeezes pedestrians out of the area not quite as quickly as they pop out of the tube entrances.
    Although I suppose I shouldn't get my hopes up after what they did to Cheapside...

  2. Agree about Prince's Street. Frequently subjected to stupid, not to say dangerous, overtaking attempts when I used to cycle through there. Really pointless as well, given that the lights were usually red at the end.

    I'll fill out the questionnaire tomorrow.

  3. Thanks for mentioning this - I had a good time earlier this evening thinking up my ideal design for the area.

    A major transport hub like this shouldn't see the priority balanced so heavily towards vehicle users. Bank Station had 43.5 million entries/exits last year and every single one of these people had to deal with the congested, narrow pavements and long waits to cross the road either on their way in or out.

    Really glad to see the City of London looking into redesigning the area, I just hope they do it properly!

  4. The streets are too narrow, pavements can't cope with current pedestrian volumes, there are too many lorries and buses and cyclists are just trying to survive. They should make as much as possible pedestrian and cyclist only.

    oh - can't log in (at work) but will be joining you on 12th too.

  5. I changed my route to avoid this junction, I now come over Southwark bridge and go along that way. Awful place. Been cut up there more times then I can mention.

  6. Yes a dreadful junction, often blocked up several of the streets and dangerous to get through. I was nearly sideswiped by a van jumping a red out of Threadneedle Street only yesterday. There are so many places to get squeezed or cut up as a cyclists - ironically one of the worst is where there is a statue of J.H.Greathead, one of the great engineers of the Tube, plonked in the middle of the road.

    Not sure I would agree it is "designed around motor vehicles" as it doesn't seem (well) designed for anyone. I'm very interested to see if what the City can come up with is more enlightened than TFL can manage.

  7. Great article. Cycling in either direction between Cornhill and Poultry/Cheapside is scary.