City of London outlines extreme plan for tackling air quality, road safety and congestion

City of London to impose large-scale Zero Emission Zone, a city-wide 15mph speed limit and pedestrian priority areas

The City of London’s governing body has outlined an extreme plan for tackling air quality, road safety and congestion within the Square Mile, involving the implementation of a large-scale Zero Emission Zone, a city-wide 15mph speed limit and pedestrian priority areas.

Entitled the Transport Strategy, it’s intended as an investment in the City’s transport for the next 25 years.

Changes to planning, infrastructure and safety will be made to prioritise the needs of pedestrians, while also seeking to minimise any impact on essential traffic.

The City of London Corporation says it intends to “champion the next generation” of congestion charging, with the goal of reducing overall motor traffic by 25 per cent before 2030 and by 50 per cent before 2044.

A so-called “street hierarchy” will be put in place to direct vehicles away from pedestrian priority areas when they do not have a final destination within the City.

Legislators want the City to incorporate the first large-scale Zero Emission Zone, with smaller localised versions set up in areas such as the Eastern City Cluster, Barbican and Golden Lane in the meantime.

In terms of road safety, the Corporation cites a significant reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured while cycling following the implementation of a blanket 20mph speed limit as good reason to reduce this further to 15mph, subject to approval from the Department of Transport.

Finally, the Corporation points out delivery vehicles make up a quarter of traffic on the City’s streets, rising to a third during the morning peak. It plans to reduce this by 50 per cent before 2030 with the introduction of off-site consolidation, as well as timed access and loading restrictions for freight vehicles.

The draft strategy will be presented to the Planning and Transportation Committee for consideration on October 30. If approved, consultation on both it and the draft delivery plan – which outlines how the Corporation will phase in short-term deliverables over the next three years – will begin in November. The final strategy will be submitted to the Corporation’s decision-making bodies in Spring 2019.

Chris Hayward, chairman of planning and transportation at the City of London Corporation, commented: “The Square Mile is a unique place to travel. Therefore, radical proposals are required to future-proof this growing business and cultural centre.

“We know the way the vast majority of people get into the City is different to elsewhere across the world, with 93 per cent of commuters arriving here by public transport, walking or cycling.

“Nine out of 10 of collisions that result in someone being killed or seriously injured involve a motor vehicle, so we need bold proposals to make our streets safer.”

City of London considers trial of non-electric car ban

Non-electric vehicles could be banned from a “low emission” street in the City of London in a pilot project aimed at cutting air pollution.

London’s financial centre is home to a number of nitrogen dioxide pollution hotspots, which are exacerbated by the area’s tall buildings and narrow streets.

• 2040 petrol and diesel ban: hybrids to be exempt

To combat this, the City of London’s air quality manager, Ruth Calderwood, said the council may introduce an “ultra low emission vehicle” street, onto which only electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) would be allowed.

Calderwood told the Financial Times: “What we realise is the Ultra Low Emission Zone won’t be quite enough for us to meet the limit values, so we are going to have to look at additional measures at our busiest roadsides”.

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone, or ULEZ, is being introduced in April 2019 and will require petrol cars to meet Euro 4 emission standards, with diesels needing to meet those of Euro 6. Owners of cars that do not meet the standards will have to pay an extra fee to enter the Congestion Charge zone, in addition to the standard Congestion Charge.

Areas in the City of London with high nitrogen oxide readings include Walbrook Wharf, which posted an average of 92 micrograms per cubic metre in 2016, and Beech Street, in which 83 micrograms per cubic metre were recorded. The EU annual limit for nitrogen oxide is just of 40 micrograms per cubic metre on average.

Calderwood wouldn’t be drawn on which streets were under consideration for the pilot scheme, telling the FT: “Because we haven’t done that before, it would be a pilot trial on a small street to see how many vehicles will be able to comply with that.” Calderwood added, though, that the council wants “to make sure about the availability of vehicles: we don’t want to introduce something that’s going to be a problem.”

If the pilot scheme goes ahead, the City of London would be following Hackney council, which recently confirmed it would ban cars emitting more than 75g/km of CO2 from certain areas at certain times.

Now read about the London T-charge, which was introduced in 2017…

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