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.