Yesterday saw local residents and King’s Cross St Pancras station users walking the streets of King’s Cross giving their feedback to a report for Transport for London (TfL) on how it feels to be a pedestrian here. Conducted by Living Streets, these street audits were thoroughly cathartic, giving us the opportunity to get our concerns heard by the people that could really make a difference.
TfL has commissioned Living Streets to produce street audits for all of the main railway stations in London, ours was the final one carried out. It was a big relief to hear the Living Streets folk totally understand our worries; we look forward to seeing their report… And on that, there is more for us as a community to do. Living Streets will submit their draft report to TfL shortly. Its then up to TfL to decide what they do with it. We need to ensure the report doesn’t get lost in any TfL bureaucracy. We need to get our elected representatives to keep asking TfL about the report. And we need to make sure TfL understands that King’s Cross – north, south, east, and west – is a community, not just a transport hub.
In 2004 TfL produced ‘The Walking Plan for London’. In it the Mayor stated that,
‘London is a great city for walking. My vision is to make it one of the world’s most walking friendly cities by 2015. Walking is an enjoyable, free and accessible activity and for most people, a necessary part of their everyday journeys’.
The Plan has six objectives, all of which apply to King’s Cross:
1: Improving co-ordination and inclusiveness in the Walking Plan development
2: Promoting walking
3: Improving street conditions
4: Improving developments and interchanges
5: Improving safety and security
6: Plan delivery and monitoring.
Then in 2005, TfL produced ‘Improving Walkability: Good practice guidance on improving pedestrian conditions as part of development opportunities’. This was aimed at local authority officers, elected members, developers and their agents. It stated that when planning in ‘walkability’ to any development, the five Cs should be used to make sure walking routes are:
‘Improving Walkability’ didn’t come out of thin air, TfL’s policy officers undertook comprehensive research which is very usefully cited throughout the report.
It does seem odd then, that despite a strategic plan and accompanying good practice guidance, both new and old walking routes around our local stations are so dire. CTRL, Network Rail, LB Camden and TfL itself are currently failing to encourage us to walk. In fact, the experience of walking in King’s Cross can be likened to dodging traffic on a motorway and its slip roads, being forced to walk in between a constant stream of heavy goods vehicles, buses, vans and cars with foul emissions, frightening levels of noise pollution, unprotected pavements, missing green men or green men that are constantly on a tea break somewhere. Basic safety would be welcome, let alone conviviality.
So… let’s not rely solely on Living Streets’ report. Please use TfL’s own walking feedback page to remind them that we need changes urgently, we shouldn’t have to wait until the King’s Cross station redevelopment finishes in six years time, or the Railway Lands development finishes in twenty years time, or the number of traffic accidents increases as more and more residents and workers move in to King’s Cross.
Also, please make contact with our Greater London Assembly Members (GLAMs) and ask them to press TfL into putting King’s Cross walking routes at the top of their priority list by:
1. Publishing the Living Streets report as soon as possible;
2. Consulting on a detailed Walking Plan for King’s Cross immediately after the Living Streets report is published; and
3. Implementing the results of the report and consultation without delay.
GLAM email addresses:
For Islington residents, Jeanette Arnold
For Camden residents, Brian Coleman
For all of us (a selection of the London-wide GLAMs):
Jenny Jones (Green Party and the Mayor’s road safety advisor)
Graham Tope (Lib Dem and member of the Transport Committee)
Sally Hamwee, (Lib Dem and member of the Planning and Spatial Development Committee)
Murad Qureshi, (Labour and member of the Transport Committee)
Geoff Pope, (Lib Dem and Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee)
If you get responses from TfL or any of our GLAMs, let us know and we’ll keep everyone up to date…