Crossing York Way

As big an adrenaline rush as bungee jumping!

There are two crossings on York Way that lead directly to our local overground and tube station. They are both such fun – no need to jump off a bridge, scale a mountain, sail the Atlantic single-handed, if you are an adrenaline junkie then these crossings are for you. Come to King's Cross and experience the sheer terror of walking to your local train station!

The crossing pictured is at the north end of the station. You cannot make a single direct crossing here, you have to wait on no-person's land breathing in those lovely fumes until TfL allow the green man to let you pass. On any given day folk can be seen ducking between the 1500 (approx) buses, heavy goods vehicles and cars entering and leaving the King's Cross gyratory system rather than wait for that illusive green man.

So, having been led to believe during the consultation prior to the Wharfdale Road improvements last year that the crossings were going to be altered to allow people to cross north to south in one go, I wondered what was happening. So I asked the Islington West Area Committee for the latest news, and they said:

"The proposal for a direct North – South crossing of Wharfdale Road at its junction with York Way was one of the aspirations for the Wharfdale Road scheme and it was included in the first public consultation and also included in the report submitted to West Area Committee in May 2005.

"This busy junction is part of the King's Cross gyratory system. The traffic signals are controlled by Transport for London, TfL. York Way is a boundary road with LB Camden and is maintained by Camden at this point. Both York Way and Wharfdale Road are part of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) so are closely regulated by TfL.


"Any alterations to this junction require careful modelling to ensure any changes do not have an adverse effect on traffic movement.

"A traffic and pedestrian survey of the junction was carried out in 2005 and the results were passed to TfL. We have since done queue length surveys at this junction which show long peak time queues on York Way of over 70m. TfL are unlikely to agree to proposals for the amended crossing in isolation as this would cause more delays to traffic on York Way and the queues would then potentially back up the Euston Road or Goods Way junctions.

"However, now that the scale of the proposed developments in the Kings Cross area and alterations to Kings Cross Station are more advanced, it is possible to generate a more realistic transport model for the whole area. TfL are currently undertaking a pedestrian and traffic movement study in the area around Kings Cross and we have asked for this proposal to be included in those studies."

So, although a direct crossing is supported by our local authority, they feel it is unlikely we'll get a direct crossing because the road is too busy. Yep, that's pretty much what they reckon – the road is too busy for us to cross from north to south in one go.

If we feel strongly about this, then I think we need the support of our GLAM (in joke: Greater London Assembly Member). It is our GLAM who sits on the Authority that governs TfL. It is our GLAM who is there to voice our concerns and represent our needs. So let's contact her – Jennette Arnold can be emailed at or you can write to her at: GLA, City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London SE1 2AA. We are also represented on the GLA by a number of Londonwide GLAMs whose contact details can be found via the GLA website.

Whilst we are about it, we might as well mention the other and perhaps more infamous crossing on the King's Cross gyratory: between York Way, King's Cross Station and Pentonville Road. It's a joy to watch those pedestrians try to fit on no-person's land there – just look at them spill out onto the busy roads into the path of oncoming traffic hell bent on running the red lights, hours of fun!

About Sophie Talbot

Sophie runs a small business designing websites for small businesses and community groups. She also manages King's Cross Community Projects
This entry was posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, How to get things done locally, Road Safety in Kings Cross. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Crossing York Way

  1. Stuart Cottis says:

    The whole King’s Cross gyratory should be re-designed to replace the nonsense one way roads with normal two way traffic. This would then allow the crossings to be sorted out. I believe that there were proposals to restore two-way traffic to York Way south of Wharfdale Road- I wonder where these have got to.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. As I understand it, Islington are in favour of going two-way, I don’t know about Camden. I believe once again it’s Transport for London that refuse to allow this to go ahead. Please, please email our GLAM and the Londonwide GLAMs especially those with a transport or London Plan remit (details in main posting) – the more emails they get with specific comments like this the better! Cheers.

  3. Paul Convery says:

    A small crumb of comfort: Islington has renewed its long term commitment to replacing the gyratory within context of getting rid of e.g. the awful traffic systems at Archway and Highbury Corner. At a full Council meeting late last year, Rupert Perry and I moved an amendment to Islington’s policy so that the KX system is now included in the list of schemes to return to 2 way working.

    Sophie is quite right that TfL attitudes are a big part of the problem but Camden’s petrol-head planners are also a serious obstacle. For so long as Camden remains the highways authority for York Way, we are at the mercy of a Borough that does not have single resident (voter) affected by anything that happens on a highway they control.

    The York Way/Wharfedale crossing is indeed a menace. And when Kings Place opens up, and another couple of thousand workers/visitors arrive in the neighbourhood, the inadequacy of this pedestrian crossing is going to turn critical. I have asked for a face-to-face showdown meeting with TfL (roping-in Jennette Arnold) and Islington’s planners next month. The purpose is to argue-through all the changes we require to York Way considering Kings Place, the rebuild of KX station and the long term impacts of Kings Cross Central (the first detailed planning permissions for which are begining to come through).

  4. Thanks Paul – very much appreciated!

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