Frequently Asked Questions
Q1 What is the aim of the scheme?
The scheme aims to transform Baker Street and Gloucester Place into pleasant streets where people can get about easily and safely, relax and spend time.
By reintroducing two way traffic flow along Baker Street and Gloucester Place and complementary improvements to the public realm in the area, the scheme would make the whole area more pedestrian friendly and accessible and restore the unique Marylebone character.
Q2 Why is it needed?
The evidence shows that the existing one way system along Baker Street and Gloucester Place is at the heart of many problems in the area.
The wide carriageways encourage high traffic speeds, particularly during quieter periods of the day. When traffic volumes are highest during the peak periods, there is congestion southbound on Baker Street approaching Marylebone Road and Oxford Street and northbound on Gloucester Place approaching Marylebone Road. At junctions between Marylebone Road and Portman Square, there is generally more ‘green’ signal time available for traffic on the wide approaches on the main roads, which results in spare, wasted capacity. This can lead to drivers accelerating aggressively between junctions.
There is an opportunity to redistribute road space and traffic signal time to provide greater benefit to pedestrians and cyclists, while at the same time smoothing vehicular traffic flow and discouraging high speeds.
Across the capital, many similar one way road systems are being successfully transformed into community friendly, safe and well planned two way streets, for example, Shoreditch Triangle, Pall Mall and St James’s Street as part of the Piccadilly Two Way scheme and the Aldgate project currently underway.
Q3 What exactly is proposed?
The dominance of traffic has been a consistent concern for those in the area for some time. The development of the project has not happened overnight. The proposals are a culmination of years’ of detailed transport studies, review of existing junctions and options appraisals which led to Westminster City Council’s Cabinet giving the green light to proceed with design and consultation.
The scheme proposes to introduce two way flow to both Baker Street and Gloucester Place (from Oxford Street to Park Road); in other words, there would be traffic lanes operating in both directions along both streets, rather than the existing one way system.
We are also seeking to widen footways on Baker Street, install new and better pedestrian crossings and traffic controls, improve street lighting, reduce street clutter and improve cycling facilities through the area.
Q4 Will any improvements be made to Marylebone Road?
The scheme aims to improve pedestrian crossing facilities by providing ‘straight across’ crossings over Marylebone Road at the junctions with Baker Street and enhanced staggered crossing at Gloucester Place. In addition, it is also proposed to provide straight across crossing at its junction with Balcombe Street.
Q5 When is it going to happen?
Following the first round of consultation in July 2015, a second round of consultation will commence in February 2016 for a period of four weeks. The second phase of consultation will determine whether the proposed design changes mitigate the issues raised by those who opposed the scheme during the first consultation.
In mid-2016, Westminster City Council’s Cabinet Members will consider the outcomes of the consultation and make a decision on whether or not the scheme should go ahead.
Should WCC and TfL decide to proceed with the scheme, there will be a further consultation focusing on Traffic Management Orders. This is a statutory consultation on changes to parking, loading and unloading restrictions.
Q6 When do you plan to begin work on the scheme?
If Council Members approve the scheme, it is anticipated the work would commence on site in early 2017 with works taking approximately 18 months. The works would be handled carefully in a phased programme to keep disruption to a minimum.
Scheme finance and partners
Q7 Who is involved in the scheme?
Westminster City Council and Transport for London are leading the project, supported by The Baker Street Quarter Partnership (BID) and The Portman Estate.
Q8 Who will decide if the scheme goes ahead?
The decision will be taken by Westminster City Council and Transport for London.
Q9 How is the scheme going to be funded?
The scheme would be jointly funded by Transport for London, The Baker Street Quarter Partnership (BID) and The Portman Estate. There is currently a budget of £15m for the scheme.
Q10 What are the benefits of the two way scheme?
By reducing the divisive effect of the current one way system and transforming Baker Street and Gloucester Place into pleasant streets where people can get about easily and safely, the scheme aims to improve the experience of all road users.
- Residents would benefit from improved access and shorter, more direct journeys, as well as significant improvements to the pedestrian environment (crossing facilities, street lighting, wider footways, street lighting, removal of clutter). The proposals seek to return Marylebone to how it was originally intended; as a place for people.
- Businesses based on Baker Street and Gloucester Place would benefit from improved access and public space which would make the area more appealing. Better bus access would make visitors and workers’ journeys easier.
- Pedestrians would benefit from significant improvements to pedestrian amenity, including improvements to up to 50 signal controlled crossings in the area, reduced street clutter, improved street lighting and wayfinding signage, wider, less cluttered footways and improved links to the major transport hubs at Bond Street, Baker Street and Marylebone stations.
- Cyclists would benefit from improved cycling facilities including cycle lanes, new cycle parking, advanced stop lines at junctions and improved connections to the central London cycling grid (a set of connected routes for cyclists across central London comprising a network of Quietways and Cycle Superhighway routes).
- Bus users would benefit from a simpler bus network with northbound and southbound services on the same street where possible, and the improvements to the wider pedestrian environment.
- Car users would benefit from smoother traffic flow through the area with more flexibility in route choice, shorter, more direct journeys and an area wide active traffic management strategy that aims to reduce excessive traffic queues at existing traffic hotspots.
Impact on traffic flows
Q11 Which roads will be affected?
The proposals are for two way operation along the length of Baker Street and Gloucester Place between Oxford Street and Park Road. The scheme would also require some changes to turning movements at junctions within the area. Please click here to see the existing and proposed turning movements at all junctions in the area.
Q12 Will widening the pavements and reducing the number of lanes for vehicles result in more congestion?
Baker Street is wide enough, even following the widening of footways to a significant degree, to be able to provide at least three traffic lanes throughout the entire corridor, within a carriageway width of around 10m. Bus stop locations and lane arrangements (either one lane northbound and two lanes southbound, or vice versa) have been developed with the aim of minimising the potential congestion that might be caused by buses, taxis and other traffic stopping at the kerbside. Most bus stops are located where a passing lane can be provided, and if this is not possible then a wide lane has been provided to permit most vehicles to be able to pass safely when oncoming traffic permits. Bus stops in a single lane are also located where the numbers of passengers boarding or alighting the service are expected to be low, so the dwell time at the stop will be short and delays to other traffic will be minimal.
Gloucester Place is wide enough to be able to provide at least two traffic lanes throughout the entire corridor, along with 2m wide mandatory or advisory cycle lanes in each direction and parking bays within a total carriageway width of around 12m. Where a section of parking bay is to be provided, the cycle lane will run along the outside of the parking. Where bus stops are to be provided in the northbound direction, these are located where cyclists and traffic can be provided with a passing lane. Loading along the kerbside will not be permitted within mandatory cycle lanes during the hours of operation, but if a vehicle stops then there is sufficient space for other traffic to pass within the adjacent traffic lane. At junctions, where traffic might wish to wait before turning, either an additional lane is to be provided, or there will be sufficient space within the junction to accommodate waiting vehicles without causing significant delay to other traffic.
Q13 How will southbound traffic turning right from Baker Street onto Marylebone Road be managed?
The Baker Street Two Way scheme will be introduced at a time when there will also be a considerable number of other major changes to London’s road network and operation. TfL is planning for these changes by establishing an Active Traffic Management strategy that will seek to mitigate potential traffic issues, and keep traffic moving as smoothly and efficiently as possible (The Active Traffic Management strategy is further explained in Q14).
For the July 2015 consultation, two options were presented for making provision for the right turn from Baker Street southbound onto Marylebone Road westbound, towards A40 Westway. There was very little support for a new right turn facility from Allsop Place, and so the proposal is to retain the existing right turn from Baker Street. The design team has developed a traffic management strategy that is capable of maintaining current levels of traffic capacity for the right turn at the Baker Street junction.
Q14 How will the Active Traffic Management strategy keep traffic running smoothly in the area?
Over the next 2-3 years, TfL and London Boroughs propose to introduce over 20 new major transport projects across central London. The combined effect of these schemes on the operation of the central London road network will mean that new and sophisticated methods of managing vehicle traffic will be introduced as part of TfL’s Active Traffic Management strategy to keep central London moving. This will be achieved by maintaining manageable levels of traffic flow into central London through the day. This approach will be deployed in response to observed traffic conditions to ensure that the network operates as smoothly as possible. The objective of this strategy will be to protect the bus network, prevent the blocking of exits at junctions and ensure that key intersections do not become gridlocked. The approach will be flexible and will need to respond to the daily demands of traffic on London’s road network. Signal timings at certain key junctions will be adjusted to manage the flow of traffic into and around central London to ensure traffic keeps moving. During construction activity, traffic flows will be actively managed around locations where construction is taking place, when necessary to do so.
Although the Baker Street two way project is expected to operate without any noticeable redistribution of traffic on local roads, the scheme will benefit from this Active Traffic Management strategy for central London. This means that should there be any areas where traffic congestion could arise, for whatever reason, the traffic approaching the area will be managed better in collaboration with other significant network changes to the central area.
Q15 Has the impact of roadworks or an accident on two way flow been considered?
Two way operation would provide more resilience in the network than at present, because drivers would have more options to divert onto alternative routes in the event of any incident in the area. At present, an incident on Baker Street or Gloucester Place has the potential to cause major traffic congestion, or rat-running on local roads. This is particularly important for bus operations.
Q16 How will my street be affected by the traffic?
Converting large one way systems into two way streets will result in redistribution and rebalancing of traffic around the road network. The scheme has been designed to contain current traffic within the street network around Baker Street and Gloucester Place, and there is not expected to be any significant transfer of traffic onto parallel routes.
Overall, the majority of streets will not experience any change in net traffic flow. The project improves access to local areas, and so local streets may experience an increase in one direction, yet with a corresponding decrease in the other. Please click here to see the predicted changes to traffic on each road in the area.
Impact on bus services
Q17 How will existing bus services be affected?
The project aims to make the bus network easier to understand, by locating northbound and southbound services on the same street where possible. Bus stops may also be combined and relocated to more suitable positions.
Please click here to see the proposed changes to bus routes and bus stops.
Impact on the environment
Q18 How will the scheme impact on congestion, air and noise pollution?
The proposed two way road system will reduce the length of journeys, reduce traffic speeds and smooth the flow of traffic.
It is expected that the proposed scheme will not have a detrimental effect on noise and air pollution
Please click here to see the noise and air quality reports.
Impact on residents, businesses and access
Q19 Why do you need to ban certain turning movements at the Baker Street/Marylebone Road and Gloucester Place/Marylebone Road junctions?
At the Baker Street/ Marylebone Road junction, all existing movements will be permitted for all traffic at all times. In addition, buses, taxis and cyclists will be permitted to travel northbound from Baker Street and cross the Marylebone Road, buses and cyclists will be permitted to turn left. This further access may be permitted to all traffic outside peak hours, and is subject to further review.
At the Gloucester Place/ Marylebone Road junction, all existing movements will be permitted for all traffic at all times. The provision of the left turn from Gloucester Place northbound onto Marylebone Road is subject to consultation responses. In addition to the existing movements, the two way scheme introduces a new southbound ahead movement from Gloucester Place across Marylebone Road. It is not proposed to allow left or right turns from the Gloucester Place southbound approach, because of safety issues for cyclists and the impact on traffic congestion. It is not proposed to allow the left turn from Marylebone Road westbound onto Gloucester Place because of the need to provide controlled pedestrian crossing facilities while minimising impact on traffic congestion. More information about the permitted turning movements is provided here.
The proposed scheme aims to provide better access for all vehicles, by providing new turning opportunities which are currently not permitted by the one way system. The scheme proposes minor changes at Portman Mews South, which will become one way westbound instead of eastbound.
Q20 How will the scheme impact on emergency vehicle access?
The proposed scheme aims to provide better access for all vehicles, by enabling shorter, more direct journeys and providing new turning opportunities which are currently not possible with the one way system.
Q21 How will the scheme impact on delivery vehicles?
The proposed scheme aims to provide better access for all vehicles, by enabling shorter, more direct journeys and providing new turning opportunities which are currently not possible with the one way system. A separate consultation will be undertaken later on in 2016 on the proposed parking and loading/unloading restrictions.
Q22 Will there be any changes to the Congestion Charge Zone?
There are currently no planned changes to the congestion charge zone as part of this scheme.
Elements of the proposed scheme
Q23 What is a mandatory cycle lane?
A mandatory cycle lane is separated from the rest of the road by a solid, continuous white line painted on the road.
The term 'mandatory' refers to motorists, not to cyclists. It means that it is compulsory that motorists keep out of a mandatory cycle lane. Motorists must not drive nor park in a mandatory cycle lane.
Q24 How will the pedestrian crossings in the area be enhanced/improved?
The project seeks to improve up to 50 signal controlled crossings in the area. The improvements include six new crossing locations which would enable pedestrians to cross safely in any direction, ‘straight across’ crossings on Marylebone Road at its junction with Baker Street and Gloucester Place which will make crossing the road quicker and more convenient, additional ‘green man’ crossings with ‘countdown’, wider crossings to accommodate more pedestrians and improve comfort, and shorter crossing distances. The proposed scheme will also provide additional informal crossing points.
Q25 How will parking and loading be affected?
A number of changes to parking and loading arrangements are proposed as part of the scheme. A separate consultation will be undertaken later in 2016 on the proposed parking and loading/unloading restrictions.
Q26 Have similar schemes been implemented elsewhere in London?
Across the capital, many similar one way road systems are being successfully transformed into community friendly, safe and well planned two way streets. One of the earliest schemes at the Shoreditch Triangle
was implemented in 2002 after years of lobbying by cyclists who wanted the High Street returned to two way to reduce unnecessary journey distances, and demonstrates benefits to other road uses to this day.
In 2011, the Piccadilly Two Way scheme introduced two way traffic movements on Pall Mall and St James’s Street along with major streetscape improvements,
and the Aldgate project currently underway involves removing the one way gyratory and introducing two way traffic flow along Aldgate High Street,
Middlesex Street and St Botolph Street in order to provide a significant public space.
Approval has recently been granted to introduce two way traffic flow on Tottenham Court Road, Gower Street and Bloomsbury Street,
along with complimentary public realm improvements.
Q27 What changes are being proposed as a result of the previous consultation?
In response to issues related to specific locations, design changes have been developed and discussed with key stakeholders. Meetings have been held with the following stakeholders to discuss their concerns and the proposed design changes before finalising them –
St. Marylebone Society
- Marylebone Association
- North Marylebone Traffic Group
- Marylebone Community First
- Francis Holland School and St Cyprian’s Church
- Residents of Blandford Estate, Harewood Avenue
- London Business School
- London Cycling Campaign
The locations where these changes are proposed are listed below:
- Taunton Place/ A41 Gloucester Place junction – banned right turn into Taunton Place;
- Ivor Place/ A41 Gloucester Place junction – priority controlled junction with relocated Zebra crossing
- Ivor Place/ A41 Park Road junction – maintain current permitted turning movements, introduction of traffic signal control, revisions to cyclist facilities, new pedestrian crossing, enhanced public realm;
- Clarence Gate/ A41 Park Road junction – revisions to match changes at Ivor Place junction, revisions to cyclist facilities, additional pedestrian crossing and green man at all pedestrian crossings, with countdown timer;
- Melcombe Place, Dorset Square and Melcombe Street – footway widening, improved crossing facilities and enhanced public realm;
- Melcombe Place, Dorset Square and Melcombe Street – potential for further footway widening through loss of parking;
- A501 Marylebone Road/ A41 Gloucester Place junction – retention of left turn from Gloucester Place and improvements to staggered crossing over Marylebone Road west side;
- A501 Marylebone Road/ Balcombe Street/ Upper Montagu Street junction – provision of new straight-over crossing;
- York Street/ A41 Gloucester Place junction – retention of two way traffic on York Street west of Gloucester Place.
This consultation seeks views on these proposed changes via the questionnaire.
Q28 What is the impact of the proposed scheme on road safety
Similar schemes have been introduced across London in recent years, at Shoreditch Triangle, Piccadilly/ St James’s and South Kensington, and these provide evidence that the severity of accidents can reduce following conversion from one way to two way streets. In Shoreditch, for example, use of formal crossings has increased significantly and informal crossing away from assigned crossing areas has decreased, and cyclists no longer have to weave across multiple lanes or use the inconvenient one way system to reach their destination, and so overall accident risks have been substantially reduced. Studies from the US have demonstrated reductions in the number of collisions following conversion from one way to two way streets. Although intersections of two way streets have more conflicting movements, one way streets correlate with decreased levels of driver attention and also allow higher travel speeds because linked signal timings result in less frequent stops for vehicles. Pedestrians also prefer crossing two way streets because drivers tend to travel more slowly and vehicular conflicts are more predictable.
An analysis of accidents across the study area has been carried out to understand current issues and determine how the scheme could improve road safety. It is considered that accident numbers and/or severity would reduce as a consequence of:
- Reduced vehicle speeds, arising from narrower streets and removal of the multilane approaches;
- Improved and increased availability of formal pedestrian crossings, with shorter crossing distances;
- Improved cycle facilities, advanced cycle stoplines, banned vehicle turns where conflicts with cyclists might be high and greater driver awareness of cyclists due to cycle lanes;
- Greater driver awareness due to the legibility of two way operation and conventional junction layout, fewer weaving movements along the streets and the increase in conflicting movements at junctions;
- Minimal opposed right turn issues, due to junction design and greater accessibility and opportunity to achieve access by avoiding right-turns.
Q29 How will the changes be monitored?
Throughout the construction and implementation of the scheme, and for at least a 6 month period following opening, there will be regular and,
in some cases, continuous monitoring of conditions across the area to ensure that:
- The scheme is delivered with minimal disruption to residents, businesses and visitors to the area;
- The scheme operates broadly as expected and, where it might not;
- Mitigation measures are identified and implemented.
This will be achieved through regular liaison with amenity and resident groups, and key stakeholders, and a variety of dynamic and CCTV monitoring, traffic surveys and other data gathering.
Over the next couple of years, there are likely to be changes to traffic patterns across the roads of central London, as a consequence of the building and implementation of other major transport infrastructure initiatives, such as the Mayor of London’s Cycle Superhighways and the West End Project (Tottenham Court Road Two Way). Because of this, it will be essential to gather traffic data that accounts for these changes, so that any impacts of the BS2W project can be assessed independently. To account for as many changes leading up to the start of BS2W works as possible, new data gathering will be carried out just before the works start, and then again at a suitable moment after the scheme is opened, following an appropriate settling-in period. The monitoring strategy will comprise the following:
- Continuous dynamic traffic management using CCTV and the TfL Urban Traffic Control ‘SCOOT’ system, to ensure that traffic congestion is avoided as far as possible;
- Vehicle traffic flow and journey time surveys on streets and at junctions across the network, particularly on streets where residents have expressed concern over potential “rat-running”;
- Cyclist and pedestrian flow and journey time surveys along streets and at junctions across the area;
- Pedestrian environment review (PERS);
- Vehicle speed surveys;
- Bus performance and bus patronage, boarding and alighting surveys;
- Road Safety Audits;
- Accident data analysis (continuous, for at least 3 years to establish impact of scheme);
- Crime and petty theft;
- Parking and loading behaviour.
Please click here to see the proposed monitoring strategy both short and long term.
Q30 What is the impact of changes proposed on Harewood Avenue/ Marylebone Road junction as part of the Cycle Quietway route?
There is not expected to be any significant impact of the proposed changes to Harewood Avenue on the Baker Street Two Way scheme. This scheme is not expected to result in any noticeable change in traffic demand on Harewood Avenue at the Marylebone Road junction, and the introduction of one way southbound and a northbound contra-flow cycle lane on Harewood Avenue is not expected to affect materially the traffic patterns on Baker Street and Gloucester Place.
Q31 What is the impact on journey times especially bus journey times?
Throughout all periods of the day, bus journey times are predicted to generally either stay the same or reduce in the southbound direction. This is because southbound buses stay on Baker Street, where traffic flows are likely to be lower than existing. Southbound bus journey times are predicted to reduce from around 12-14 mins to 10-12mins.
In the northbound direction, buses on Gloucester Place (Routes 30 & 74) are predicted to experience slightly longer journey times because all the junctions along the route will now have new pedestrian crossing stages. Northbound buses transferred to Baker Street (Routes 2, 13, 82, 113, 139, 189, 274) will also experience slightly longer journey times because they have slightly further to travel and will now pass through junctions that have pedestrian crossing stages.
Northbound bus journey times are predicted to increase from around 8-10mins to 10-12mins. This means that journey times are broadly consistent in both northbound and southbound directions. Overall, across the whole network and both directions, bus journey times are predicted to reduce.