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Traffic both ways after 40 years—not a minute two soon’!

PUBLISHED: 21:13 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 05 October 2010

We haven't seen two-way traffic at Aldgate for 40 years and (inset) cabbie Dave Wilson and traffic cop Jo Burman

We haven't seen two-way traffic at Aldgate for 40 years and (inset) cabbie Dave Wilson and traffic cop Jo Burman

TWO-way traffic has returned this week to the gateway to London’s East End—after more than 40 years. The one-way system through Aldgate and Whitechapel High streets known as the Aldgate East gyratory, first introduced in the late 1960s, has now been scrapped. The ancient thoroughfares now have traffic in both directions, east out of the City and west towards St Paul’s and London Bridge, which town planners say makes it more pedestrian friendly

Else Kvist

TWO-way traffic has returned this week to the gateway to London’s East End—after more than 40 years.

The one-way system through Aldgate and Whitechapel High streets known as the Aldgate East gyratory, first introduced in the late 1960s, has now been scrapped.

The ancient thoroughfares now have traffic in both directions, east out of the City and west towards St Paul’s and London Bridge, which town planners say makes it more pedestrian friendly.

Pavements are being widened and a new public open space created, all of which has brought the speedy one-way system to a speedy end after four decades.

Aldgate High Street was one-way westward until Monday morning, with eastbound traffic diverted round the back of historic St Botolph’s Church, rejoining at the corner of Petticoat Lane.

Whitechapel High Street carried traffic eastward with the parallel Braham Street—at the back of what used to be the famous Gardiner’s Corner department store in the 1960s—taking westbound traffic.

Now drivers go in a straight line right through Aldgate and Whitechapel in both directions, which makes it slower, but gives the district more of a village’ feel.

Part of Braham Street is being turned into an open public space, while an office development is proposed at the other end.

But not every driver was happy with City Hall’s new scheme.

“It’s not as good as I thought it would be,” said London cabbie David Wilson who drove his taxi through it three times on the first day.

“There seems to be more traffic now. But it is still early days.”

City Hall traffic bosses monitoring the new lay-out were puzzled at first when they found no vehicles filtering in from the normally busy A13 Commercial Road.

They then discovered police had cordoned off part of the A13 because of a gas cylinder blaze on a building site a quarter-of-a-mile down the road.

One teething problem to be sorted was a truck that had broken down—throwing a spanner in the works.

Pol Sgt Jo Burman, from the British Transport Police, said: “This is not giving a true picture because the truck is slowing cars having to go round it while mechanics fix the breaks at the roadside.”

He added: “It will take drivers a bit of time to get use to the two-way system.

“They drive on memory—but there are signs alerting them to the new lanes and plenty of cameras about to monitor the flow.”

Pedestrians, however, seem to give it the thumbs up.

Consultant Srikaneh Vuppala, who was taking a coffee break from work, noticed more traffic passing his office, but thought it was an improvement nevertheless.

There was more pavement space, he noticed, and the traffic lights were better for pedestrians to cross.

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