Many of London’s one-way systems are being consigned to the “dustbin of history” after turning into dangerous and frustrating traffic bottlenecks.
The Standard has learned that plans are being drawn up by Transport for London and local authorities to scrap four of the busiest in an attempt to cut down on congestion and make roads safer to use for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
They are Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street, the Wandsworth one-way system, the Kender Street Triangle in New Cross and Brook Street.
Piccadilly, St James’s Street and Pall Mall are being returned to two-way in a £14 million project by Westminster council, TfL and Crown Estates. Other one-way systems that have recently been scrapped include Trafalgar Square, Aldgate, Tottenham Hale and Brixton Hill.
Experts today said the move was a general shift in policy away from one-way systems with some councils banning the building of new one-way streets altogether.
Head of the New London Architecture Centre, Peter Murray, said: “One-way streets reflect the dominance of the car and the failed go-faster policies of the traffic engineers.
“As we begin to realise that walking and cycling should be the dominant forms of transport, the one-way street should be consigned to the dustbin of history.”
A spokesman for London Councils, which represents all the boroughs in London, said: “A lot of gyratory systems were built in the Sixties and it is timely to review them. Two-way streets make journeys easier for drivers and keep more traffic on the main road and out of side streets.”
Martin Low, city commissioner of transportation for Westminster council, added: “It’s an outdated view to say that one-way is better. Westminster’s general policy is to make as many streets as possible to be two-way working.”
He added that plans to return Baker Street and Gloucester Place back to two-way streets would be considered after the Olympics.
RAC spokesman, John Franklin, said: “One-way systems like the one in Wandsworth cause logjams, frustrate motorists and with all traffic going in the same direction there is a danger of driving too quickly.”
Plans for the £41 million overhaul of the Wandsworth system are being held up as they await ministerial approval.
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s transport adviser, said: “In some areas going back to two-way traffic can make simple common sense and help smooth the flow of traffic.”
A TfL spokesman said: “Where it is beneficial for all road users, TfL is keen to remove one-way gyratory systems along the TfL road network.”
Taken from the Evening Standard 13.04.10