‘Bad Gyrations’ – tell us your story to help sort out deadly Kings Cross streets

Cyclist death kx daniels counterThe roads that make up TfL's Kings Cross gyratory system are a disgrace.  The vast high speed roundabout of one way roads is proven to be deadly.  Plainly unfit for a decade or more,  condemnded in TfL's own report three years ago radical changes are needed to break up the gyratory into safe roads on a local scale. TfL's current plans are derisory – a bit of paint on the road.  The recent outpouring of support and raw emotion from people who suffer these roads after another tragic death has been moving and remarkable.  The BBCThe Guardian and Camden New Journal have given the issue strong coverage.  Cycling blogs in particular are dissecting the appalling design of TfL's junctions.  This convinces me that we can mount an effective campaign for change in the run up to Mayoral elections next May.

We want to build a campaign on people's stories of your experience in the roads around Kings Cross.  In the comments below please share your personal statement and testimony about the craziness of using these roads. Send me an email to environment@cankfarm.com if you are feeling shy.

We shall take these comments and stories and build a bundle of evidence then a manifesto for change to take to each Mayoral Candidate and seek their endorsement for a fundamental reform and dismantling of the Kings Cross gyratory.  People's real experiences backed up by evidence speak most powerfully in a campaign.

So tell us how you feel when cycling, walking or driving here, what emotions do you go through, tell us if you have been injured or had a near miss. Tell us how your experience affected your subsequent behaviour. Tell us a bit about yourself are you old or young, male, female, resident, tourist, worker, commuter, cyclist pedestrian?  What routes did you take? Tell us what you think should change.  

If you can, please use your real name or an abbreviated version in comments – there's nothing to be afraid of.  The testimony of Bob Jones (or B Jones) is more credible than Billybob85.

We are also keen to receive statistical and policy evidence to build a campaign.  If you have come across anything that helps build an evidence case (like this superb post) please send it in,

If you are new to this website please bear in mind that we believe that any issue, no matter how controversial or emotional can be discussed in a curteous, polite way normally without getting into party politics.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online, trustee. The Indigo Trust.
This entry was posted in Anti Social Behaviour, Crime etc, Road Safety in Kings Cross. Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to ‘Bad Gyrations’ – tell us your story to help sort out deadly Kings Cross streets

  1. David Stuart says:

    I regularly cycle to and from Euston and King’s Cross, but I tend to steer clear of going along Euston road etc as they are a bit manic…I’d rather go the long way around, or push it across extremely busy roads, and get there in one piece.

    Whilst we should be taking steps to improve safety and respect for cyclists, it’s also important that we recognise cyclists need to take a certain amount of responsibility themselves. Every time a cyclist runs a red light they are basically saying the highway code doesn’t apply to them, then get annoyed when car drivers don’t respect their right to be on the road. If I do get knocked off my bike I will hold my fellow cyclists as culpable as any car driver.

  2. G Ferguson says:

    I find this all so depressing. Although not a cyclist I live in neighbouring islington and often commute via Euston or Kings Cross (mostly by foot and very occasionally by car. As long as the current gyratory system remains in place, Kings Cross will remain an unwelcoming place for pedestrians and local business.

    What is it with tfl’s obsession with moving ever greater number of cars and lorries through london streets to the detriment of all others? Surely with the large foot fall of pedestrians around the transport hubs of Kings Cross, Euston and St Pancras a road system should be put in place which actively calms car and lorry traffic? TFL is failing London and Londoners.

  3. Sophie Talbot says:

    Can we make sure Bad Gyrations isn’t solely about cycling? The gyratory is for pedestrians and motor vehicles too and needs to be made safe for each type of road user. That it prioritises one type of user over the others at the mo is the nub of the problem, even with that priority motor vehicles still experience collisions here as a result of bad road design…

  4. David Kane says:

    I walk to work and back from Kings Cross everyday, including crossing at the York Way/Euston Road junction, and it’s just an awful junction for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

    The traffic light phasing means you can only get half way across in one go, with big groups of people gathered at the half way point.

    The lights also seem to mean that lots of cars and trucks coming up Gray’s Inn Road and across the crossing are still moving when the pedestrian light has gone green, meaning a dangerous combination of angry car drivers with pedestrians all around them.

    And cars, taxis and buses turning left off Euston Rd onto York Way are often going very quickly (the corner allows you to keep going at some speed), with taxis and buses then quickly cutting left to drop off passengers. The whole things a mess.

    I often end up trying to cross further up York Way (and weaving through the buses and taxis pulling in and out) as it seems safer than using the actual crossing.

  5. S Xu says:

    I pass by the York Way/Euston Road junction regularly, and feel that the junction is dangerous for cyclists.

    While turning left from Euston Road to York Way, I have had to stop many a times (even though the traffic signal is green and I have right of way) due to

    a) taxis carelessly cutting lanes all the way from right to left as they attempt to stop on the left hand side near the station. Or the ones that have already done so trying to cut back right into the flow of traffic.

    b) vehicles running through amber / red lights as they come up from Gray’s Inn Road

    c) pedestrians crossing the road at the junction even when it is red

    Point B is particularly dangerous, because, at the junction, if you are a cyclist and you simply obey the traffic signal and cycle forward when the traffic light turns green, you _will_ be hit by straggling vehicles coming from Gray’s Inn Road.

  6. Jono Kenyon says:

    Hi William,

    Thank you for taking this issue to TFL.
    I am a regular cyclist, and live in Finsbury Park, so end up coming through Kings Cross frequently. I feel very vulnerable heading north up York way, trying to get filtered right to the Caledonian Road. I have been beeped at many times by cars having to brake sharply because they were running out of road. We (family) went by bike to visit friends at UCH Hospital and got completely stuck here, and ended up dismounting, and walking to cross the Euston Road. I should have picked a different route, but am beginning to think something has to change?

    Good Luck with the campaign,

    Jono

  7. Jim says:

    Will,
    Glad you liked my post about cycle flows at King’s Cross. If you want the data drop me an email and I’ll send it over. Best of luck with the campaign,
    Jim

  8. Simon says:

    Euston road is essentially an urban motorway. I am a confident cyclist, who has been cycling most days in central London since 1995, and I will not go on this road. The subsequent detours do take time, but this road is horrific. At this particular junction there are always queues of traffic, and woe betide anyone who stops them getting through when the light is green.

  9. Diana Shelley says:

    As a local resident, I’ve been using this junction for nearly 40 years. It is deadly. Because I know it well, I know I must stop on the island (hoping not to be crowded off it) and wait for the lights to change to cross the next bit of road. But this is a major destination for travellers and tourists. Every time I cross, I see people attempting to cross before the lights change who innocently assume that they have some rights as pedestrians. The northbound lane turn from Euston Road up York Way is a particular hazard, as traffic turning left can’t easily be seen. The first step to making this crossing safe must surely be an ‘all green’ phase that stops all flows of traffic for a reasonable time to allow pedestrians to cross completely in whichever direction they need.
    Oh, and while we’re about it, what about the junction at the bottom of Pancras Road. Again, pedestrians who don’t know it assume they are safe to cross when it the road looks clear, and don’t expect the traffic stream turning out of Euston Road, first from the right and then coming out of nowhere from the left.
    If they don’t sort both these junctions by 2012, I fear there will be more casualties during the Olympics. TfL’s cavalier attitudes must be brought to book. It’s our city!

  10. Tabitha K says:

    I too am a confident cyclist, but I find this junction extremely intimidating due to the aggressive and impatient nature of drivers here. To me, one of the main attractions of cycling is getting from A to B in the most straightforward way possible (more or less as the crow flies), so I find the idea of detours or dismounting a huge turn-off. This is a common sentiment amongst cyclists. Don’t expect us to find other routes. Make our routes safe.

    Tabitha.

  11. E Povey says:

    I’ve worked on the Pentonville Road for about 4 years and have walked and cycled round the Kings Cross Gyratory everyday.

    It’s quite simply unwelcoming at best, and terrifying at worst. As a cyclist you’ve got to squeeze between stopping buses on one side and lorries & taxis rushing past on the other. And you’re usually treated with contempt by every other traffic user, as if you’ve no right to be on the road.

    As a pedestrian, you’re shepherded into pens between fast moving traffic, not given enough space and expected to wait through very long traffic light signals weighted heavily in favour of the vehicles around you.

    TFL needs to rebalance its priorities, urgently.

  12. O Russell says:

    It’s terrifying. I don’t like cycling in traffic as heavy as that and as a result choose not to. I’m not a bad cyclist, and have many years experience of cycling on roads – and like anyone who has done this I’ve plenty of stories to tell of very close calls.

    I have no idea why TfL (and the UK in general) chooses not to provide separate space for cyclists, knowing full well it would save lives and encourage a healthier lifestyle.

  13. James Melly says:

    As a cyclist:
    From Euston Road turning left into York Way when on the move
    Having already had to pull into the middle lane because of the bus stops in front of King’s Cross, turning left into York Way is best done when following a vehicle that shoos the pedestrians out of the road for you. It’s not their fault – the sight lines are terrible. Without a vehicle to follow you might get through with a bell or a bit of yelling, otherwise no chance.

    From Euston Road turning left into York Way from having stopped
    The phasing means there are always vehicles still coming in from Gray’s Inn Road. I don’t think they have all jumped the lights, they just aren’t given time. Among them will usually be cabs who cut straight across you to drop people on the left of York Way, and buses that are doing the same to reach the stops a bit further up.

    From Gray’s Inn Road to York Way
    Gray’s Inn Road is often clogged but on two wheels you can use the bus lane on the left. Problem is when you need to go up York Way and have to cross four lanes before the traffic lights by the Scala (or five lanes after) to reach the opposite side which is the safest way to approach York Way. Not that there are any cycle lanes to protect you and the two lanes that lead into York Way are very narrow. Once in York Way you have to watch for taxis and buses cutting to the left, or if you are more safely positioned on the right you may shortly find vehicles cutting across you to turn right into Caledonia Street.

    As a pedestrian:
    Crossing York Way – carriageway nearest to King’s Cross
    The crowds and the angle of the roads means that a) you can’t see very far and b) vehicles don’t have to slow down as much as when doing a right-angle turn, so that near misses happen on almost every pass of the traffic.

    Crossing York Way – carriageway nearest to Pentonville Road
    The traffic is always still going through when the pedestrian light turns green, but pedestrians aren’t used to this and will set off, starting to weave their way in and out of cars and buses.

    The middle island is not nearly big enough for the volume of pedestrians.

  14. Sam says:

    I find coming off Grays Inn Rd onto Euston Rd particularly harrowing, as cars zip by at speed and the very few times I have actually gone this way there has been parked cars forcing me further out into the road then I would like.

    Trying to negotiate your way from Pentonville Rd onto King’s Cross Rd is also rather hazardous. The whole area feels incredibly unsafe when on a bicycle – and as a pedestrian unless I need to use the stations then I avoid like the plague – if only because it feels so congested.

    All in all, I do avoid this area as much as possible, and will only venture there should I need to.

  15. Lee Baker says:

    The roads bisecting our community are lethal and stop people getting round their own neighbourhood.

    You have to wait a couple of minutes to cross at the northern end of Judd Street so most people take a chance and nip across, even though the vehicles invariably come careering off Euston Road with their foot down on the pedal because they see an open carriageway right in front of them. At the Euston Road crossing in front of the British Library adjacent to this, there’s no green man at all, so you are left to either sprint across before the oncoming traffic reaches you, or make a huge diversion. No wonder you don’t see older people or people with pushchairs – there’s no way that they’re going to get across.

    In front of St Pancras Station where Aryglle Street meets Euston Road, it’s impossible to make it across in one go, so you’re stranded like cattle in a cage whilst the traffic roars around you for a few minutes, which is why you see so many pedestrians taking their chances and dashing across through the cycle lane to get to the other side. And the southern end of Pancras Way huge crowds of people jaywalk by the side of the island to avoid a similar fate of being stuck in a cage in the middle of a sea of traffic.

    And why have they invested in signs on Pentonville Road by King’s Cross Bridge saying ‘DO NOT CROSS HERE’ rather than making it safe for us to cross? I am in relatively good shape, so can run across all these roads, but others can’t and that means that they are prevented from moving around their own neighbourhood.

    And Camden Council’s putting their new office building north of the Euston Road, so if people want to access housing or parking services or whatever, they’ll now be forced to dice with danger to get there. Already, these dangerous roads are the main reason why more people living in the ward of King’s Cross don’t send their children to the excellent South Camden Community School.

    I am not a particularly confident cyclist, so would never contemplate getting on a bike round here – particularly a cumbersome hire bike. I saw that TfL was advising people to cross Euston Road on a bicycle at a couple of points, and shudder to contemplate doing that. I’ve seen the flowers left at the Arygle Street so-called ‘safe route’ for cyclists.

  16. Sarah says:

    I cross the junctions in Kings Cross every day and I find them dirty, intimidating and frustrating. I cross York Way in both directions but often try to avoid the main 2 phase junction by crossing further up the road near the York Way bus stop. This is pretty hazardous but this route has a natural flow of pedestrians coming from the Guardian building, CSM and southern Caledonian Rd. This was identified during the investigations around putting a footbridge across the tracks at Kings Cross in line with Wharfdale Rd but has never been dealt with by TfL or any other agency and we are still all supposed to cross at the bottom of York Way.
    The 2 phase junction at that point is pretty insane. It is always packed with commuters overflowing the cattle pen island and spilling into the road. I have seen some near misses when buses and HGV’s move north across that junction from Grays Inn Rd and their rear view mirrors nearly collide with pedestrians’ heads. Traffic moving that way always runs the red light and are still blocking the junction when the pedestrian phase is green, causing anger and chaos. I have seen altercations break out here with pedestrians shouting at car drivers, blocking them outright and even hitting cars! I’ve also seen cars forced through pedestrians and extremely aggressive driving.

    If I cycle in the area I simply dismount and push my bike through the gyratory area. It’s not worth the risk of riding through but I find that break in my journey annoying and it puts me off cycling at all, as I have to go that way traveling south or west from my home.

  17. Lorraine Prince says:

    Every time I navigate the gyratory, in particular the junction of Euston Road/York Way, I feel I take my life into my hands. This is particularly so when cycling into York Way from Grays Inn Road. Two lanes of traffic merging into one, drivers wanting to speed off after the long wait, and the complete absence of any cycling facilities. Drivers are aggressive and I have been bibbed and shouted at countless times simply for being on the road in an area where there is not enough space for them to safely pass. The worst thing about it is that there is no alternative route whatsoever for cyclists.

    What about (at the very least!!) a system of toucan crossings that allow the life-valuing cyclist to join the pavement and cross at the lights until they reach a safe designated place to re-join the flow of traffic? This works well at other busy roundabouts.

  18. 1.) (TFL) There is very limited possibility for cyclists to get up North East other using Euston Rd. Acton Street and Swinton Street disallow North-East bound passage. Cyclists are forced onto the pedestrian path or Pentonville Rd unless they are familiar with Fredrick Rd / Cubit Street connection or Brittania St (Camden) which has no cyclist lane.
    It has been frequently suggested Acton and Swinton Street as well as many of the others should at least have counter traffic cycle lanes or be two directional.

    2.) (TFL/ Camden) There are not enough signs pointing at the various cycling routes such as Frederick / Cubitt Street build by Camden. Even so, they all end on Euston Rd, or Grays Inn Rd, with further sign posting lacking.

    2.) (TFL) There is no way other than using York Way to get to the local Tesco (main grocery shop in the area) or Regent;s canal by bike. Caledonian Rd only accepts South Bound traffic. For pedestrians the crossing between Caledonian Rd, Pentonville Rd is non logical. For example it is not possible to cross the Pentonville road on the East side of Caledonian Rd, but many pedestrians still do. A pedestrian who needs to get from West to East on this junction has to wait twice. first to cross Pentonville Rd then to cross Caledonian Rd in front of the Scala. The left turn for cars allows two lanes to turn left. As the gyratory has an immediate right turn it easily catches traffic users crossing lane 1 to lane 2 after their turn, making it dangerous.

    3.) (TFL) The new lay out at Pentonville Rd and Penton Rise is logical in theory. But I still see many cyclists doing cycling straight from the left of lane 1 and in front of left bound traffic (the cause of the last deadly accident there). As a pedestrian it is still tempting to cross the bus lane there at red, as there are not so many buses. But sometimes cars get it wrong and go straight and children might not see oncoming buses all together. Warning Lights in addition to painting of road and even more sign posting could help.

    4.) (TFL) There is nothing helping cyclists to get from Penton Rise to Swinton Rd. There are no signs that highlight a cycle path via Frederick and Cubitt Street

    5.)(Camden / TFL) There is no appropriate sign posting that there is a cycle path at ARgyle Street

    6.) (TFL) speeds on Caledonian Rd, Swinton Street, Acton Street, Kings Cross Rd, Grays Inn Road and Pentonville Rd / Rise can be excessive due to their large uni-directional nature. They look and feel like urban motor-ways to motorists

    7.) (TFL) Bus lane is not an alternative to cyclists the the beginning of Eutson Rd just at the end of Grays Inn Rd, because there are always stationary buses there. Bus lane disappears a little later on with many car drivers not paying attention due to momentary single lane change to enable the right turn into Pancras Way.

    8.) In order to get from Argyle St to Pancras Rd (Camden) you need to cross Euston Rd and then wait on Euston Rd to turn into Pancras Way. On Pancras Rd there are many cars stopping with passengers coming and leaving cars and cars making U-Turns (Camden). Not for the faint hearted cyclist

    9.) (TFL) Midland Road lacks a Camden bound cycle way. Most cyclists use the pedestrian path. The closest recommended cycle route is at Chalton St. There are not enough signs that there is a cycle path along Chalton St (TFL / Camden). Ossoulton Street and Chalton street are but lower speed roads rather than having dedicated cycle paths (CAMDEN).

    10. ) (TFL) Pancras Rd / Goods Way Tunnel, no line for right turning cyclists twds Camden Town / or Euston Rd, Goods Way no cycling path.

    11.) (TFL) Traffic Island York Way / Euston Rd. Red light Much ignored by pedestrians

    12.) (TFL) Crossing and Traffic Island at Pancras Rd (connection St Pancras / Kings Cross). Red light much ignored due to length of time needed to wait

    13.) (TFL) Crossing Euston Rd (Camden Library – St Pancras) much ignored crossing at red due to long wait for pedestrians. Dangerous due to fast traffic. Almost impossible to cross Euston Rd as a whole with a suitcase or pram due to fence zig zag narrowing.

    14.) (TFL) Zebra crossing Grays Inn Rd / Acton Street and Acton Street / Kings Cross Rd still often ignored by motorists due to high speeds.

    15.) no cycle friendly crossing possible to get from Kings Cross Rd into Acton Street (TFL). I had often dismounted and used the cycle path,

    16.) Gt Percy Street (Islington) officially only uni directional. Cyclists could be allowed to use it for access to Frederick Street. No safe crossing at Kings Cross Rd possible.

    17.) Swinton Place. Street controlled by TFL. Residents and councillors have repeatedly requested that this road be made uni-directional or closed on one end. Cars using it to chase and get by Acton or Swinton Street Jams. TFL claims it is necessary as an escape for buses when Acton or Swinton Street closed. Why can street not be residential traffic only and be exceptionally opened in such rare circumstances.

    18.) Sidmouth Street / Grays Inn Rd. (TFL) Long waiting times for pedestrians means that light is largely ignored, including by many young college users and parents on their way to Coram nurseries and Coram Fds. Advise that pedestrians can cross more frequently.

    19.) Seaford Street (Camden) opening for cyclists heading South could enable them to use rear of Kings Way college to head South and could be integrated with other local cycle routes (if Harrison Street were reduced to 20m zone) and therefore avoid some of the Northern tip of Grays Inn Rd.

    20.) Penton Rise (TFL), no possibility to get up to North East for cyclists. Even though
    Rodney Street would be a calm connect towards Islington. Penton Rise.

    21.) (Islington) part of the omission of the gyratory is the Fredrick / Cubitt / Sidmouth Street pathway. However coming from Islington Ampton St and Myddelton Square by bike there is no good sign posting to these cycle lanes, nor to the lane on Myddelton Rd.

    Happy to elaborate if necessary!

  19. Clare Hill says:

    I live on the gyratory, on the south side of Euston Road. Going over to the station or increasing number of attractions on the other side of King’s Cross as a pedestrian is like trying to cross the M25. I’m glad to see the “sheep pens” removed, but unlike the Shibuya-style Oxford Circus crossing, the railings have been removed but nothing else has been done. That’s completely unacceptable, and I wonder if it contributed in any way to another horrible accident that happened on 20 October, when a woman was hit by a bus as she was crossing Pentonville Road (the bus was travelling west). This area has had railings removed, which is great, but no point if you don’t slow down the traffic or reassess crossing sequences and timings.

    Picking up on Cllr Paul Convery’s point:

    “The entire Kings Cross road system is the legacy of a time when decision-takers thought it was simply a drive-through-and-forget place. Well it isn’t anymore. Many thousands of people live here. Hundreds of growing businesses are located here. It’s becoming a whole new entertainment district with scores of pubs, clubs and restaurants. And it now has the largest single public transport interchange in Europe.”

    I agree and see the makings of a perfect storm: Central St Martins, possibly the world’s largest art college, has just opened, by next year we will have in addition to St Pancras, King’s Cross station as a redeveloped mega-destination in itself, St Pancras will be central London’s transport hub for getting to the Olympics, and soon enough there’ll loads more tourists released straight out into the area from Cologne to add to arrivals from Brussels and Paris . Furthermore, the area will continue to be a building site in parts for quite a few years yet, oh, and the mayor wants everyone on bikes – it’s happening anyway as public transport prices rise and quality of service worsens….and you want to continue to run central London’s northern ring road, unslowed, through the heart of this area?

    It doesn’t take a traffic engineer to realise that everything that has been planned for King’s Cross is completely incompatible with its role as traffic corridor/funnel.

    King’s Cross is full of little shops, squares, pubs, and the attraction of the canal. Both foreign guests and Londoner friends alike are surprised when I show them these things, as all they can see is a big station and an insurmountable highway, which is completely understandable.

    I’m an experienced London cyclist. I have once or twice run the gauntlet of the Gray’s Inn Road to York Way and was genuinely terrified (speeding lorries bearing down behind me, a higgedly piggledy bus mashup to my left). This is coming from someone who finds the Strand in rush hour pretty easy. I avoid this intersection like the plague. If anyone talks to me about cycling along Euston Road, I try and talk them out of it, and encourage them to use the route through Bloomsbury. Instead of Pentonville Road, I try to recommend a complex cut-through the back streets of either Pentonville or Finsbury, depending on where you’re coming from.

    King’s Cross/St Pancras is an important international gateway for London and indeed, the UK. Unlike Heathrow, it is also a destination. How would we like to greet people on their arrival?

  20. Daniel Zylbersztahn says:

    corrections and additions to my posting:
    Pt. 2.) add ending on Kings Cross Rd.
    various paragraphs: Pancras Way and Pancras Rd are used synonymously. I mean the street to the East of St Pancras Station.
    Pt 15.) correction: Please read I have often used pedestrian zebra crossing for crossing.
    Pt. 17 Correction: Swinton Rd – should be Swinton St
    Pts on no good sign posting for cycle lanes and cycle traffic ommissions: Sign posts should really be helping cyclists from all directions if they are to avoid them becoming entangled in the danger zones later. Often there is only one sign (sometimes none) in front of the path, easily not spotted by cyclists coming from the sides rather than a frontal approach.

    My point on Penton Rise sign posting should make cyclists and cars aware of possible dangers there. But my personal take on Pentonville Rd / Penton Rise is that a separate cycle path to the left of lane 1 should be erected. A cyclists traffic light should regulate the cyclists to wait here. When motor traffic from Lane 1 and buses on Lane 2 stop at a red, the cyclists should be given a green for 15 seconds to cross safely into the Western part of Pentonville Rd. A sign “Please wait for Green Light! Dangerous Crossing!” that should help reinforce cyclists waiting here to cross Pentonville Rd straight until it is their turn.

  21. Sarah says:

    I have been cycling in London for about 15 years and am a confident and safe cyclist that regularly rides on busy main roads in Central London. The closest I have got to a bad accident is going north from Grays Inn Road to York Way when I was almost knocked off my bike by a pedestrian running across the inadequate crossing at the bottom of York Way with a car trying to overtake me in the single lane simultaneously. Had I not managed to keep my balance, I have little doubt that I would have been seriously injured or killed.

    Others have already described why this route is so difficult, but for me, it is the transition between 4 lanes in Grays Inn Road to the next section of road that receives Caledonian Road and splits into Euston Road and York Way. This intersection seems full of differently-paced buses, taxis and cars, as well as heavy lorries travelling north, all trying to swap lanes and overtake each other. The feeder lane into York Way ends up tailing back a long way such that motorbikes undertake most of the traffic within it, crossing into the path of other vehicles and of course cutting up cyclists in the process. In this mess, there is nowhere to go as a cyclist and it is very rare that I get into the advanced stop zone, ahead of the traffic. Once the lights turn green and you move forward into York Way, there is a terrifying combination of vehicles trying to over take you within the single lane junction and pedestrians drifting out onto the road. Just when you think you have succeeded in getting onto York Way, you find yourself faced with a taxi pulling away from the station-side pavement into your path on your left, with the vehicles that have crossed the junction with you trying to overtake on your right. Again, once you have survived this, you find buses pulling away from their stops on your left a few metres further up the road and a scattering of pedestrians crossing blindly in front of parked buses and ignoring anything without an engine.

    I am fully supportive of this campaign and am very grateful to WIlliam Perrin for his hard work on this. I think that TfL should be held to account over this latest accident.

  22. John Hartley says:

    Our experience of using the junction where cyclist Min Joo Lee was recently killed by a lorry: We are two fit and healthy locals in our 50s/60s, living 1 block away from this junction and most days we use it as pedestrians two or four times.

    The traffic comes through this junction too fast, especially east-bound along Euston Road into Pentonville Road. A lower and strictly enforced speed limit would surely be a big contribution to the safety of this junction. Where are the cameras to catch speeding vehicles and those that jump red lights? We can’t see any. We can’t be sure the vehicles are breaking the current speed limit. Our point is that at this junction, given the heavy pedestrian and cyclist traffic, the speed limit should be lower.

    On one occasion a motorcyclist was knocked off his bike right in front of us. I was horrified enough that I couldn’t look but instantly rang the emergency services. However the rider immediately got up, insisting he was unhurt and didn’t need any assistance.

    Some of the pedestrian barriers were removed a few months back and we think that has made the junction safer. The drivers must be more aware of the proximity of flesh and blood so perhaps drive more carefully. And it gives the pedestrian a better choice of when and where to cross – crossing immediately in front of queued traffic is more dangerous than crossing a few yards in front of them.

    We both cycle (and have done so with confidence in Central London for many years) but we cycle through this junction as seldom as possible, each of us using it perhaps once every few weeks. Because it is a one-way system we are often forced to choose between either cycling most of the way around it in heavy traffic or walking our bikes contraflow through busy pavements. What ASLs exist (as at most other junctions) are often unavailable to cyclists. Even if you can reach them they are often full of vehicles; either stranded there when the lights changed or, worse, many drivers knowingly and deliberately using them as queuing space. Most drivers respect yellow boxes because they see how that improves the flow of traffic. Why are ASLs not made part of the yellow boxes? They would be more likely to be respected and would possibly be better enforced. The same is true of pedestrian crossings – they too are frequently full of vehicles even when the lights are red, forcing pedestrians to wend their way through a traffic jam to cross the road – again, why not make these part of the yellow box system as well?

    Going from Gray’s Inn Road to Pentonville Road (direction Angel) involves either cycling most of the way around this gyratory (and making an illegal right turn) or walking the bike across 4 pedestrian crossings, waiting for the lights each time. This is due to the total lack of any pedestrian crossing to the east of the Pentonville/Caledonian junction. The worst junction for a cyclist is north-bound from Gray’s Inn Road to York Way (the route Min Joo Lee was taking). This carries many buses and large lorries. It is just wide enough to take two small cars but too narrow if one of the vehicles is large. So the traffic is jostling for space as it crosses this junction, with drivers watching out for each other, rather than taking notice of cyclists and pedestrians (much smaller and less damaging objects). Cyclists moving from the LHS are forced by the traffic island to merge in with the traffic, rather than having their own space. We have seen many drivers jump red lights here and it is common to see drivers crossing this junction while on their phone.

  23. Alix Kroeger says:

    Thanks for raising this issue. Like others who’ve commented, I’m a confident cyclist but avoid this area, going some distance out of my way if need be. A couple of months ago, I saw the police fining cyclists riding along the pavements at the foot of Pentonville Road. Fair enough in most places – cyclists should obey traffic rules – but around here, getting off the road is simple self-preservation. It doesn’t help that the Euston Road is the northern boundary for the congestion charge zone so probably picks up additional traffic that way.

  24. Leah Dixon says:

    I posted on this site a few years ago that my daughter and I almost got knocked down by a truck doing an illegal right turn into pentonville road from grays inn road. We thought we were safe as it was a green man. If I hadn’t pulled her back she may well have ended up under the wheels!! That story was picked up by the Camden Journal. This is not my only evidence of the dangers of this road system as I see on a daily basis motorists run red lights and do illegal turns. I have asked for a 20 mile per hour speed limit on Grays Inn road (as we live off it) and was told there was not enough evidence that it was needed. I translated this as ‘we need to wait until more people die’. I feel very sorry that a woman has lost her life now. These examples of mine are as us as pedestrains. She was a cyclist. As I see the dangers regularly I would never cycle, or let my daughter cycle, around Kings Cross. This has meant cycling is a leisure activity for us and not a form of transport. We will only ever wheel our bikes till we are safe (i.e out of Kings Cross) and then get on them away from the madness that is the Kings Cross gyratory. This is a residential area and it is a fact thst some ways of informing motorists of that fact is trees and a 20mph limit (two things sorely lacking in my part of Kings Cross). We as residents are sick pf being ‘done to’ by developers, politicians, tfl and businesses. Give us what we need. We need somewhere our children can be safe (be this the air they breathe, the roads they cross or cycle, the absence of all the drunks, sex workers, drug addicts, traffic etc..). We don’t need anymore pubs, clubs, bars, kebab shops. I know I digress. This is about safety in Kings Cross. Yet if we make this area look like a community maybe it will really become one. If it looks like a motorway and smells like a motorway then guess what? Drivers will treat it like a motorway!!!

  25. Philip Eagle says:

    Just to add my extra.

    I spent quite a long time walking weekly from the British Library to an evening class in Pentonville Road and the crossing of York Way at Kings Cross is appalling: as everyone else has said pedestrian times are too short, drivers aggressive and the road too narrow for multiple streams of traffic.

    I’d also like to complain about the splitting of the pelican crossing over Euston Road at the junction with Midland Road and Judd Street: it’s impossible to cross the road completely from north to south even if you are able bodied. Having to wait in the middle of a road for another full traffic light cycle should be seen as unacceptable wherever the location.

    Also the pelican crossing outside the British Library is simply ignored by most pedestrians who cross on red because the pedestrian phase is again too short to cross the road fully and the road phase is ludicrously long.

    I generally support safety for cyclists, but as a pedestrian I’ve repeatedly been nearly run over by inconsiderate cyclists who ride at full speed through the pelican crossing across Midland Road at the northern entrance to St Pancras station during the pedestrian phase. There’s absolutely no excuse for such behaviour there at all.

  26. Susan Seymour says:

    I live near Tufnell Park and regularly pass Kings Cross by bike to get to the city. I too am a confident cyclist but I avoid the junction itself. Southbound I go from York Way to Wharfedale Road, Killick St, Collier St, Calshot St and cross Pentonville Rd into Lorenzo Street because there seem to be big clear gaps in the traffic there. The left turn into Wharfedale Rd is dangerous, despite cycle lanes and an ASL because of other vehicles which, even if they don’t encroach on the box, are inclined to cut the corner. I’d like two way cycling on Crinan Street to cut out the danger spot.

    Northbound I make my way to the Mabledon Place/Ossulton St crossing of Euston Road.

    When I have to go east/west it is much more awkward to avoid heavy traffic and I sometimes push the bike through the passage between Duke’s Place and Upper Woburn Place.

    I also go to Kings Cross as a pedestrian and find the crossing at the corner of Euston Road and York Way to be OK if occasionally too crowded.

    I believe that the Euston Rd. fails to meet EU air pollution standards as well. It really is a rather horrid place so perhaps it’s not surprising that people, whether walking, cycling or driving are not always on their best behaviour, though that really is not an excuse for endangering others.

    I heard somewhere that TFLs highest priority is to keep the motor traffic moving as fast as possible. If true, surely that is where the changes need to start.

  27. How would we like to see King’s Cross looking and working as a destination and gateway to London?
    The current speeds and emissions of the motorised movement on roads here are irreconcilable with providing a safe and enjoyable environment. The legacy of segregated traffic planning of old, and the gyratory which is unworkable for local people, disables this area. I find this area where I live very difficult to use as a pedestrian and especially with blind or wheelchair-user friends. I feel deeply saddened, ashamed and desperate about the quality of this place where our neighbour Min Joo Lee died.
    The respective future plans I’ve seen for King’s Cross Square (Network Rail / Camden) for Pentonville Road (Camden / Islington) the A501 and Gyratory (London Mayor / Transport for London) are all segregated from one another in both process and physical form, and I fear will not complement one another, nor an acceptably joined-up safe pedestrian environment around one of the developed world’s most significant transport hubs.

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  29. Lynne says:

    The speed of some vehicles travelling along Wharfdale Road is a serious concern. The old 30mph limit was often not adhered to and the new 20mph limit is a joke. The zebra crossing (which I use daily) is the most dangerous one I can think of. I find that I have to be quite forward in order to get many vehicles to stop – stepping out further than I feel it is really safe to do, and judging the vehicle speed (ready to step back again) as many are travelling too fast to stop safely even if they wanted to. When a vehicle has stopped and I decide to cross, I always check that a motorcycle isn’t coming up behind, ready to swerve around the stationary vehicle and carry on regardless – as happens fairly regularly. A few days ago I ‘forced’ a car to stop at the crossing and the driver responded by shaking his fist at me! As a driver myself, I find this type of behaviour incomprehensible. I believe that a pedestrian was knocked down on or near the crossing a few months ago – but this needs checking.

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  31. H.Stone says:

    I live on New Wharf Road so regularly cross Wharfdale Road to get home. It is far more usual for cars to blow through the zebra crossing in front of Central Station than to stop. Since I don’t want to play chicken with cars, I wait until I can cross. Most of the time it’s safer to cross in the middle of the road rather than the crossing. I don’t think cars realise when they turn off York Way that it is a residential neighbourhood. I hope this gets addressed as part of the overall reform.

  32. Sean Murray - Retail expert | Urban activist says:

    For all the complexity of King’s cross, at its simplest, TFL is the most influencial and powerful player and it’s putting traffic flow and speed ahead of creating an urban environment which encourages a sense of community and pride. The accident stats TFL use to explain their lack of action on road speeds and aggresseive dirving, do not show how we run for our lives across York Way as traffic speeds up from Gray’s Inn Rd, the stats do not show how narrow streets like Caledonia St are blocked by HGV’s and the stats do not show the huge amount of social chatter from visitors to King’s Cross who find the area unwelcoming and unpleasant. If TFL are to continue to have such an impact on our community, they need to be held to account and Will’s lead on the manslaughter campaign is a brilliant start.

  33. Dan says:

    I live at the north end of New Wharf Road, which is just north of Kings Cross station, running north – south in the small neighbourhood between York Way and Caledonian Road south of the canal. I am an experienced urban cyclist and I try to comply with the spirit (always) and letter(most of the time) of the rules of the road.

    When I want to get to Kings Cross Station from my house on my bicicly here are my choices:

    East to Caledonian Road. North to Copenhagen. West to York Way. South to Goodsway. West to the new Kings Cross Boulevard. South to the station. I guesstimate this is about four times the distance of the most direct walking route.

    South to Wharfdale. East to Caledonian Road. Down Caledonian Road and that little stub called something else (King’s Cross Bridge Road?) onto Grays Inn. West on Grays Inn, then north through the death intersection onto York Way. Cut across traffic on York Way to reach the station.

    Bad as these choices are, the first is greatly improved by the recent opening of Kings Cross Boulevard. But my predicament remains a grim illustration of the menace of the gyratory system.

    Traffic planning in Kings Cross seems to be all about moving transient car and truck traffic through the area quickly. The roads and intersections need to be re-thought with much higher priority given to cyclists, pedestrians and those of us who live or work here.

  34. Andrew says:

    I live on Wharfdale Road, and have observed bicycles riding both ways on the footpaths of Wharfdale Road and York Way. As an infrequent cyclist I think this completely justified given the roading-freeway system that TfL have set up. I understand that Goodsway will be right turning at some point, making the volume of traffic pushed through this area higher still. Crazy.

  35. I cycle along Grays Inn Road up to York Way every day for work and have certainly had a few near misses. On the street here (the right exit onto Britannia Street) I’ve had cars turning right when they’re driving in the lane on the far left. I ride on the far right when cycling up Grays Inn Road so I can avoid having to cut across multiple lanes of traffic when I reach the exit for York Way. When this driver made his right turn I was coming up the lane on the right and didn’t see him till he was already about to drive down Britannia Street. I had to quickly turn with him and hop onto the pavement to avoid a collision. Not saying it was the driver’s fault, more the fact that the road layout doesn’t make it easy for anybody to get where they want to go.

    A friend of mine once chose to cycle the wrong way (!) up Caledonian Road rather than go the right way up York Way. I don’t condone this (madness if you ask me) but it speaks volumes about the dangers of trying to ride alongside a solid lane full of buses that may or not pull out, taxis impatiently zipping by on the left, lorries trying to squeeze around and pedestrians poking their heads out between the buses on the left.

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  37. Leah Dixon says:

    I was talking to my daughter about the cyclist who was killed (as we pass the ghost bike everyday) and she wanted to add something on here. I am writing on her behalf. She said that the lights for pedestrians at the crossing she uses every day to school (on Pentonville road at the top of Penton Rise to carry on over to Rodney street) do not last long enough for her and her school friends to cross safely. She says this means the school children either have to wait a long time to cross or (more often) don’t wait for a green man and risk crossing when cars are zooming up Pentonville road. I think its an issue if young people don’t have enough time to cross suchbusy road safely. What about the elderly and disabled?

  38. The terrible situation at Kings Cross must be blatantly obvious to everyone. I heard comments that there are fine cycle routes to bypass the area. But I’m afraid that just won’t do. This is the centre of a city and all roads must be accessible by bike and on foot. Trip destinations are on these roads and not on the nice bypass routes – if you can find them.
    On these roads there should of course never have been a gyratory system, nor miles of guard railing. Make it two way now.

  39. cathy says:

    I cycle from south London to work on York Way daily – a journey that involves turning from Farringdon Road on to Acton Road and then right on to Grays Inn Road – this means moving into the right lane on Acton Road before the zebra crossings. Even though Acton is a quiet road, I’ve often got beeped when moving into the right lane from the left as cars drive up this road very fast and drivers seem to be simply unaware that cyclists are actually allowed to move lanes!
    Once on Grays Inn road, I cycle up along the right because moving into the left lane then back into the right is just crazy. I admit to sometimes going up on to the path if the road is packed because drivers along this stretch are particularly aggressive and I just don’t feel safe.
    Then crossing on to York Way – watching out for all kinds of vehicles, stray pedestrians, panicking when someone beeps me, etc….
    I’d prefer not to go along Grays Inn and York Way at all but there simply isn’t an alternative when coming up from the south because of the one-way system.

  40. tobiaskx says:

    At Gray’s Inn Road Junction with Kings Cross Bridge is a key place where a cyclist approaching the King’s Cross Lighthouse junction a hundred metres or so further on has a chance to at least get into the right lane by getting ahead of the traffic in an Advanced Stop Line ‘box’
    Unfortunately this is often made very difficult by vehicles encroaching on the ASL. This negates the whole point of having an ASL.
    Vehicles are also regularly blocking the pedestrian crossing here during the ‘green man’ phase. This forces people to weave in between the queing traffic to cross the road. This is extremely dangerous especially when the pedestrian crossing lights are obscured and cyclists and motor-cyclists are emerging from in between gaps in the traffic.
    Vehicles also very often disregard the diagonal hexing at the box junction here in their attempts to get ahead of traffic entering Grays Inn Road from Kings Cross Bridge on the right.

  41. hrwaldram says:

    Thanks for writing this post Will and I hope all the comments can be used in the campaign.

    As a new cyclist to London I find the King’s X interchange v intimidating like other commenters here.

    As much as I can I try to avoid it – but most of the time going to and from work I’ll have to cross the Pentonville Road at some point.

    The main danger area for me is turning left off Euston Road onto York Way – there is no real provision for cyclists here and the lane is clogged with buses and taxis – making it incredibly difficult to transfer to the right hand lane to get to Wharfdale Road which you have to do if you want to go back onto Pentonville or up on Calendonian Road due to the awful one way system – there should be a back route or alternative route for cyclists.

    The canal would be a great alternative to Pentonville if there were more room for cyclists and it didn’t truncate early at Barnsbury Road.

    But looking back at the interchange I feel the road should have a separate curbed area for cyclists, similar to Denmark, and outside of the lane.

  42. Charlie Beckett says:

    I was hit by a Mercedes while cycling south on the cycle path on Royal College Street. In fairness to the driver the road there is one-way so it is counter-intuitive for motorists to expect on-coming traffic when they turn left into Plender Street. Luckily I managed to brake and so only went flying across the bonnet causing scratches to my face but no serious damage thanks mainly to the bike helmet.
    If you are going to have separate cycle lanes with kerbs then they need to be properly protected. At the very least there needs to be proper signage for drivers, but ideally some way of forcing them to stop before crossing the cycle path.
    It’s another example of the area’s crappy cycle paths giving a false sense of security to cyclists.
    Charlie Beckett, Kentish Town

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