BANNED RIGHT TURN INTO CHARTERHOUSE STREET (WEST)
By now most drivers would have experienced the banned no right turn into Charterhouse Street (West) when approaching from the Kings Cross direction and the additional journey times and costs to our customers. Also, many drivers are stating the queue of traffic now extends from Farringdon Station all the way to Ludgate Circus and beyond. Back in 2016 I met with the TFL highways planners to voice concerns over which routes traffic would be displaced to as these proposals seemed to displace approx. 1km of vehicles down towards Ludgate Circus.
REASON FOR THE RESTRICTIONS
The restrictions are necessary to accommodate two segregated cycle lanes on Farringdon Road which form a section of CSH6. As a result, there is simply not the space to accommodate a right-hand turn lane into Charterhouse Street. There is also not enough signal time to ensure traffic flow at all arms of the junction if a southbound only green light were to be adopted. TFL are also reluctant to hold northbound cycles so that the turn can stay in place as they want to keep cycles moving (perhaps at the expense of other road users). Whilst we support making the junction at West Smithfield safer for all road users it became clear that this restriction had not been thought through. Whilst cycling lobby groups are privileged enough to have pre-consultation meetings RMT are yet to have such privilege. We think input from working taxi drivers some with highways experience could benefit the planning of all these schemes immensely.
Two solutions to this restriction were discussed. The first was to go around Smithfield market and back out through West Smithfield. Obviously 1km of traffic displaced around the meat market is not an option in anyway shape or form. The only other option is a right turn into Fleet Street and back up Fetter Lane. Again, this is a disproportionate displacement sending more traffic down towards Ludgate Circus. Ludgate Circus is already running at maximum capacity since the poorly planned cycle lanes have gone in at this junction.
I pointed out, that in reality, the displaced traffic (taxis) would turn left into the market, U turn and go across the junction into Charterhouse Street (west). Surprisingly TFL had no objections to this manoeuvre especially for taxis (turning circle taken into account). TFL contacted COL and they also have no objections and I am in receipt of an email from TFL stating this fact. As an additional security I applied for the loading bays on Charterhouse St (east) to become taxi ranks during the day to further cement the U turn. However, this has been rejected due to Crossrail. If due to numbers TFL or COL try to ban this manoeuvre I will apply for a Taxi only U turn on this section in keeping with TFL’s promises.
RMT are fighting for input into these schemes prior to the planning stages. However, after not receiving replies to a series of emails, we are not to be afforded this luxury at this time. These schemes are coming thick and fast and all will have major impacts on your ability to do your work. We will keep fighting for a say.
Ray Alleeson RMT RANKS AND HIGHWAYS OFFICER