Kings Cross traffic – bad gyrations

York way traffic The traffic and roads in Kings Cross are dreadful.  For all the millions of pounds of private redevelopment the roads never seem to change.  Between them, Islington, Camden and TfL have neglected the 1980s gyratory causing a safety hazard according to their own consultants.  But at last there is a glimmer of hope as Cllr Convery is working to bring the authorities together.  Paul suggests that as private investment tails off we need a public works programme to keep Kings Cross improving.  The roads are a great place to start and won't displace any private investment – John Ashwell, the residents of the Wharfdale Road area and Islington have shown what can be done with a local authority that listens.  We have £1million from Network Rail for York Way – let's use it to keep the area on the right track.

The junction of York Way and Pentonville is a deathtrap, swarms of pedestrians defying cars and buses like herds of wildebeest crossing a river stuffed full of crocodiles.  The Cally Road- Pentonville junction is worse with no natural walk lines. Sophie has written some good stuff on this here.

Then if you think walking it is bad try driving or cycling the gyratory.  Cycling from Pentonville to York Way involves cutting through black cabs and mini cabs swerving into you as they try to drop people for Kings Cross.  If the cabs don't get you on York Way the buses will as they cut twice through the traffic first to drop off then to get in lane to go around the gyratory.  On Cally Road the either traffic speeds up to about 40mph taking you unawares or is completely stationary, forcing you to weave in and out.  Tackling the top of Grays Inn Road coming North is only advised for armoured vehicles – cycling that is a dreadful experience.  When roadworks are tossed in – as in the photo – the situation becomes bonkers.

Wharfdale road is a great exception – here in the gyratory traffic has been slowed down, there are 'nibs' to narrow the road, a zebra crossing, trees etc.  This is down to committed action by residents – with John Ashwell putting in a lot of effort.  The street is controlled by Islington so responds to some local democratic pressure.  York Way is controlled by Camden – who have done nothing to it in ten years – their officers seem to like cars. Cally Road, Pentonville Road and the top of Grays Inn Road are controlled by TfL, who are as responsive as North Korea.

Cllr Convery says in a recent email to neighbour Andrew Long he is talking to Camden Councillors about:

'a collective approach possibly under-pinned by a statutory joint committee. I know that might sound slightly arcane but it's a workable solution in bureacratic terms.

'Much of the recent improvement in KX has mainly been due to private sector investment and because this seems likely to tail-off, I think there's a strong case for a public sector initiative to maintain that momentum of change for the better.'

Keynsian counter-cyclical investment is all the rage and will do a more directly for the area than quantitative easing.  Islington officers are working on some sort of consultation planned for the Autumn – let's hope they involve residents and local workers before they put their plans out.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
This entry was posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, Transport. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Kings Cross traffic – bad gyrations

  1. Sarah Ward says:

    I completely agree, the roads around KX are hilariously bad. The noise and pollution also spoils the slowing emerging regenerated Kings X and must be very off-putting to people arriving by train to either station right now.
    I am also a cyclist but have given up trying to navigate the death trap that is the Kings X area – I dismount and wheel my bike over the pedestrian crossings. Inconvenient but better for my health!

  2. Daniel Zylbersztajn from South of Kings Cross says:

    Great article but it lacks insight on the South of Kings Cross, given the original Northern KX roots of this forum. I would be demonstrating naked with green custard to raise the issue if once again forgotten. Kings Cross Road, Pentonville Road and Pentonville Rise, Acton Street, Swinton Street, these roads must be mentioned to complete the picture. Clrs in the ward of Kings Cross are very aware of these issues, so if Islington Clrs would be willing to set up a consortium that crosses the Camden / Islington boundaries it should most likely happen. A good contact is Clr Jonathan Simpson.

  3. Ian says:

    Absolutely agree with all. We are stuck with a 70’s style road system completely unsuitable for the new Kings X. Trying to cross the bottom of York Way is a dangerous joke, with all the taxis using it as a drop off point. The one way system around York Way, Wharfdale and Cally Road should go. The south end of the Cally could be a pleasant street of shops and cafes if this was the case. With all the redevelopment it seems they have forgotten that the road network needs redevelopment and a total rethink as well.

  4. daniel – you are quite right – we have to see the system as a whole north and south. i liked your idea of freeing up the bus lane on pentonville road at the weekend when it is pointless



  5. Sean Murray says:

    This for me is the single most important issue facing the KX/St Pancras area and, as already stated, suffers from so many stakholders being involved. I am thinking, the most important first step is to get some overseeing body, group, campaign in place that will bring focus and channel efforts to achieve a more civlised and, dare I say it, European style approach to how we manage our street space.

    Does anyone know if this is already happening?

  6. Greg Cowan says:

    Greetings to Will, Sarah, Daniel, Sean and Ian. A ‘South Camden’ branch of Living Streets ( is currently being formed, and half a dozen local people held an initial exploratory meeting on 23 February.

    Key concerns include Kings Cross Central, better connections to South Camden and ‘permeability’ north-south and east-west. With your participation and backed by Living Streets perhaps we could approach Cllr Jonathon Simpson and others about the gyratory.

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