Bank Junction modal filters – consultation response

Wheels for Wellbeing response re retaining taxi restrictions at Bank

Download this document in pdf format

May 2024

 

Wheels for Wellbeing is a Disabled people’s organization working on a pan-disability basis to increase the travel and transport options for Disabled people. Wheels for Wellbeing support the retention of current restrictions which prohibit most motor vehicles, including taxis, from passing through Bank junction Monday-Friday, 7am-7pm (except between Princes Street and Cornhill).

 

We believe that these restrictions overwhelmingly benefit Disabled people, and suggest some additional measures which could further improve Disabled people’s access in the area.

 

With all traffic still permitted on the route from Princes Street to Cornhill, and the restricted part of other roads being short, the area within which taxis are unable to drive is exceptionally small, meaning that it appears to us that only one premises, the branch of NatWest Bank, is likely to be in a location where it is impossible to pick up/set down directly outside the door. If there is a disabled person who wishes to use NatWest bank in central London for whom pick up/set down outside the door is essential, there are, in any case, other central London branches available. For other venues it may be that taxis need to turn round to drop/pick up while avoiding going through the junction, but so far as we are able to ascertain (including through visiting the junction this week), the restrictions do not prevent from dropping/picking up at the nearest part of the footway for these other venues.

 

More broadly, throughout London there are very many longer stretches of roads where it is impossible for taxis to pick-up or set-down passengers (because of ‘safety fences’ and parked vehicles) that have much greater impacts on disabled people, without having any of the offsetting benefits of these restrictions.

Complaints have been submitted asserting that personal safety is affected by the restrictions since people are unable to be dropped off or picked up directly outside venues at night, and because natural surveillance from vehicles has been reduced. Even without considering the extremely limited area of the restrictions, these do not stand up to scrutiny as evidence about these restrictions:

  • the vehicle restrictions are not in place at the relevant hours of the day,
  • there are exceptionally high levels of natural surveillance during the restricted hours from the high levels of pedestrian traffic and overlook from surrounding buildings – Adding in more motorised traffic is more likely to have a negative effect on natural surveillance as well as increasing risk of injury collisions.
  • perhaps because of this, the pavements and roads here are not a location where concerns about personal safety are particularly notable (the major concerns here are, rather, in the pedestrian tunnels and staircases to access the underground).

 

Extensive accessible public transport in the vicinity (buses, mainline rail, DLR and tube) means that the junction is very well used by Disabled people who do not use taxis. The likelihood is that a measurable proportion of cyclists using the junction also will be Disabled cyclists, since a significant number of people who have difficulty walking find that cycling is a good alternative for them.

 

The reduction in the road width that needs to be negotiated by a Disabled person to cross the road, and reduction in motor traffic, makes it much more practical for Disabled people who are slow, or who have limited ability to judge the approach of vehicles to cross the road here than before the recent changes. Any reversal of those changes will reduce the mobility of Disabled people who do actually use this area.

 

Thus, for most Disabled people who are, or want to be, in the vicinity of this junction, the safety benefits at this junction with the restrictions in place are more substantial and relevant than the dis-benefits of taxi restrictions could ever be. This is partly because low incomes mean that taxis are often unaffordable for Disabled people. Moreover, hailing a passing taxi tends not to be an option for Disabled people in any case. Some are unable to stand in a location where they can expect to see a passing taxi long enough -and speculatively- hoping to find a passing taxi, others are unable to see well enough, or physically unable to attract the attention of a driver. Others –most obviously wheelchair users and those with assistance dogs– find that taxi drivers “don’t see” them when trying to hail a taxi. Thus, the provision of a taxi rank is much more useful for us. For those who struggle to get to a taxi rank, ensuring ride hailing apps work well for Disabled passengers will have a much greater impact on helping Disabled people at this junction than ending these restrictions ever could, and would benefit Disabled people elsewhere.

 

There should, however, be additional consideration of Disabled people’s access through the area including by walking/wheeling and cycling as well as using private transport:

  1. Has there been a full audit of accessibility of the area for Disabled people walking/wheeling, including consideration of pan-impairment needs? This would need to ensure that footways and crossings are sufficiently accessible from all bus stops, tube stops, drop-off points and cycle parking.
  2. Could exemptions to restrictions be linked to Blue Badges (working in the same way as other CCTV restriction exemptions such as car parking), so that people unable to walk/wheel far from their own or a private hire vehicle could be dropped directly outside during the hours of restrictions?
  3. What levels of provision of accessible cycle parking are there in the area (for Disabled people using non-standard cycles)?

 

More generally, we note that insufficient provision of suitable mobility aids to Disabled people is a significant problem nationwide, which hugely increases the proportion of Disabled people who need to be dropped off or picked up within very small distances of their destinations. Improved provision of high-quality mobility aids would mitigate the negative impacts of increased distances to drop-off points and public transport stops.

News archive

Gradients – quick reference guide

Wheels for Wellbeing
Download graphic version of this guide Download .docx version of this guide Download pdf version of this guide Measuring gradients: Key gradients for accessibility: Angles of essential gradients for public…
READ MORE

Crossfall – quick reference guide

Wheels for Wellbeing
Download graphic version of this guide Download .docx version of this guide Download pdf version of this guide Crossfall: Also called cross gradient, transverse gradient, camber, etc. For utility, we…
READ MORE

Wheels for Wellbeing Guide to Mobility Aids

Wheels for Wellbeing
1.              Introduction: These guide sheets are intended to help people work towards creating a more accessible public realm: Without clear definitions, it’s hard to communicate. Our aim is to enable…
READ MORE

Wheels for Wellbeing Guide to Paths, Pavements and Roads

Wheels for Wellbeing
1.              Introduction: These guide sheets are intended to help people work towards creating a more accessible public realm: Without clear definitions, it’s hard to communicate. Our aim is to enable…
READ MORE
Skip to content