Living Streets

Walkabout3 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 Livingstreets 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:

Comfortable and

‘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…

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 How to get things done locally, Road Safety in Kings Cross. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Living Streets

  1. Tobias Newland says:

    I am a Camden resident from just south of the Euston Road who went on the Living Streets Pedestrian Audit last week. The overarching theme for me was describing how the Euston Road cuts through and divides the communities to the north and south of it. It is effectively a six-lane motorway cutting through a dense residential area. Its something to think about that visitors from Europe coming out of St Pancras station find themselves coming straight out into this extremely pedestrian unfriendly environment.

    The street architecture and layout is fundamentally designed for vehicles rather than pedestrians. Improvements made for pedestrians are welcome but we shouldn’t forget the big picture here and perhaps the possibility of some radical redesign of the street layout in future.

    On a more specific note we looked in particular at the crossings over the Euston Road and side roads immediately in front of Kings Cross station and to the west as far as the crossing on the west side of Judd Street over towards the British library complex.

    The following points were noted.

    1. The crossing over St Pancras Road between the two mainline stations effectively took pedestrians through a very long ‘S’-shaped walk via a central pedestrian island, and the timing of the traffic lights was heavily weighted against pedestrians. We experienced waits of more than a minute for the green man to appear. As a result of this many pedestrians chose to ignore the designated crossing routes and lights and take their chances with the traffic.

    2. The pedestrian crossing lights going across the Euston Road on the west side of St Pancras Way were also heavily weighted against pedestrians. Once green pedestrians were given a crossing time of only about eight seconds!

    3. It was noted that the crossing going directly over the Euston Road from Kings Cross station to the Post Office had been removed. This forces pedestrians to either make diversions to the east or west to cross the road or use the underpass. Not all people felt comfortable using the underpass.

    4. The pedestrian crossings across the Euston Road at the Judd Street junction were also highly unsatisfactory. On one side the green man lasted a mere five to six seconds while on the west side crossing is highly dangerous. There are no pedestrian lights at all. Pedestrian crossing here would have to continually look at the vehicle traffic lights as they were crossing with little warning of when the cars would start rolling again at the green lights.

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