They shoot pedestrians don’t they?

King's Cross has a long standing and fast growing reputation for being possibly the worst pedestrian danger spot in the entire capital. At "over a kilometer including three escalators, five pelican crossings, two uncontrolled road crossings, two sets of steps", the Transport for London (TfL) recommended route from Thameslink platform A to the Victoria line joins a host of badly designed pedestrian routes at the UK's busiest transport interchange see Ian Buckland's excellent blog for more.

Residents, workers and those passing through are blighted by the strong desire to control where and when we walk held by Network Rail, TfL, and Argent King's Cross. With their heads firmly in the sand, these property developers insist on making us walk around, on herding us into sheep pens and on forcing us to walk passed their shops when all we want is to get from A to B in the shortest and most desirable route possible – that's why the routes we want to take are called 'desire lines' in planning jargon.

KXStP  But pedestrian, and for that matter cyclist, desire lines are just an annoyance to our property developers: 

  • They refuse to bridge the tracks at the back of the station to reinstall the old Battlebridge Road/Wharfdale Road link; 
  • They are making us wait forever to see promised improvements to York Way;
  • They tantalise us with hints that the sheep pens at the notorious Gray's Inn Rd/Euston Rd/Pentonville Rd/York Way junction might one day be removed; 
  • They force us to avoid the sheep pens on Pancras Road by crossing from Argyle St to King's Cross station by walking out into the middle of traffic on Euston Road;
  • They seem to have forgotten we exist at all if we want to walk from Camley St, Goodsway or Midland Rd into the rear of St Pancras or King's Cross Stations; and 
  • TfL have joined in the fun by closing off or not sign posting quick access routes to tube lines.

New crossing at Oxford CircusCommuters, workers and residents look on the wondrous crossing at Oxford Circus which for us it seems will always be a pipe dream.


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 Kings Cross N1C, railwayslands, Planning, Licensing and Regulation, Road Safety in Kings Cross, Transport, Travel, Weblogs. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to They shoot pedestrians don’t they?

  1. Stephan says:


    On behalf of many of your neighbours, thanks for keeping this matter alive and under scrutiny.

  2. Clare says:

    I second that. We can dare to dream about an Oxford Street style (after Shibuya Station, Tokyo) crossing. I’ve tried it out as a pedestrian and cyclist and it works very well as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Sean Murray says:

    Maybe we need a BiD!

    The Oxford Circus solution and most of what you see that has improved the west side of Oxford St has been driven by the New West End company. I worked with them as a retailer and they have been effective in getting things done across agencies and many stake-holders.

    They are in fact a BiD – Business Improve District, (There’s one in the Angel too) This solution must be worth exploring in KX. It may seem contradictory to suggest *another* agency to get involved but I believe what’s required is a group to be tasked with making KX all the things we want it to be. The group would need to be funded and co-ordinate across Camden, Islington, TfL, Network Rail, Argent etc. The amount required split across just these stake-holders would be minimal compared to the results.

    It would be great to hear other views on a BiD approach.


  4. Ian says:

    Agreed. Crossing the bottom of York Way is a nightmare. I wonder if it has occurred to the pea brains, who seem to think only cars should be considered, that with the advent of the new St Martins and other projects, there will be an even greater crowd of people trying to negotiate a pedestrian route around Kings Cross. The whole area desperately needs to be rethought in traffic planning, cycle and pedestrian routes – it is an appalling clutter of badly designed, out of date schemes, many a hangover from earlier times which are now hopelessly inappropriate. It is sadly typical that out of the millions chucked at buildings, nice new offices for train companies and so on, not a penny is spent, or even considered worth thinking about, in terms of people, convenience or simply making it a pleasant, safe environment to walk or cycle in. Human beings are apparently not as important as buildings, cars or shops.

  5. Laura Herald says:

    TfL and NR granted, but what have the KXC guys got to do with any of the journey you described?

  6. Sophie Talbot says:

    Hi Laura,

    ArgentKX has a great deal of influence, both direct and indirect on walking routes throughout the area. KXC will re-align many desire lines whilst KXC has an interest in funnelling pedestrian footfall into its new retail and leisure areas. Unfortunately, KXC has downplayed the local need for the Battlebridge Road/Wharfdale Road bridge restoration. Had KXC been at all supportive it’s highly likely the bridge would have been in construction phase by now. Togather KXC, TfL and Network Rail are creating a tight corale for pedestrians keeping them within the St Pancras, KX Western Concourse and KXC triangle. This is regeneration Docklands stylee, keeping all the benefits within a well defined gentrified new development whilst excluding surrounding communities from having any benefit at all – in fact forcing blight on them. There is a desperate need for pedestrian and cyclist permeability throughout the area, including creation of a route from The Angel to Marylebone which avoids the A501 ring road completely. Between the tree of them they have effective blocked the possibility of real permeability for commercial reasons – the social and environmental benefits they should also address have been totally ignored in this respect.

  7. Laura Herald says:

    I see, kinda. Though the wharfedale bridge isn’t in existence so while the potential remains to include it i suppose the jury will remain out. as i understand it NR have insisted themselves on KXC that they take all the land trackside for the purposes of building the glass pastie – biggest boy in the playground style so i doubt the bridge would be underway even if KXC wanted it (which i don’t know they don’t – last time i checked it is shown on their German Gym model) Even in the slightly cynical view of commerce-driven development you describe wouldn’t including the bridge bring benefit KXC? Not sure which part of the world view sees economic advantage in disconnected streets. seems counter intuitive and against prevailing research of the last 30 years. I’m prepared to Keep The Faith (KTF™) with respect to the KXC intentions, after all they are providing many links through the development are that are simply not possible right now.

    However, I COMPLETELY miss the access down through platform0 though, which is an example of reduced connectivity entirely of NR’s own making. FWIW i quite enjoy continuing my journey through St Pancras as a detour. Though why M&S didn’t make themselves a storefront to Pancras road is a question and a shame.

  8. Whether or not it should be in the form of a Business Improvement District (BiD), a local-interest led, and joined-up approach to planning Kings Cross is certainly necessary, and it is not happening at the moment. There are dozens of agencies, besides planners at Camden and Islington and the railways, none of which have yet made the station precinct workable for local people.

    Improvement groups like Kings Cross Railway Lands Group ( has worked for years on this, and KXRLG and Create Kings Cross ( are intended to represent local people and business.
    Would it be worth telephoning Transport for London’s planning officers for our neighbourhood to talk about this state of affairs and to find some ways of moving forward?

    TfL Planner for Camden (west of York Way and Kings Cross Road)
    Alex Andrews, Team Manager (West) Tel: 020 7126 4024
    TfL Planner for Islington (east of York Way and Kings Cross Road)
    Patricia Charleton, Principal Planner Tel: 020 7126 4617

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