Islington Cyclists Action Group on proposed changes to The Cally

Islington Council are currently consulting on changing the south end of The Cally from one way to two way traffic. We welcomed the proposal. Islington Cyclists Action Group, whilst recognising that a return to two way working is a positive thing, say that the current proposal needs to go much further to incorporate safe cycling routes and improve street experience for all. Tom Harrison of ICAG explains why:

“Few residents, workers, or commuters can enjoy entering the Kings Cross area from Caledonian Rd. The three lanes of one way traffic fill up the road like a blocked drain squeezing and wheezing into the inevitable congestion of the Euston Rd. With its air and noise pollution, it’s a place, I suspect, that people would rather go through than linger in.

“So like many, Islington Cyclists Action Group were enthusiastic when we heard Islington Council are employing Atkins in the hope of improving the area for all users, making it a more pleasant area to be in and to travel through. Not unsurprisingly, we responded to the consultation on behalf of people who currently cycle and those that might take it up in the future.

“The full response is a bit long, but can be found on the ICAG website. But here’s a short summary of what we said.

“NB. The consultation period has been extended to November 29th so there’s still time to send in a response.


“I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the benefits of encouraging cycling over other forms of transport: the numerous health benefits from reduced noise and air pollution and reduced obesity don’t need repeating. Nor do I need to point out just how much cheaper and affordable cycling is than any other public or private transport.

“The question should be how to make routes safer and more attractive for cycling to people currently using other modes. In short, how to make cycling a thing everyone can do, even the most risk averse and unfit, from 8 to 80 years old.

“With this aim in mind, Islington Cycling Action Group considers there to be three key means of improving cycling in this area and making it a viable transport option.

  1. Enable cyclists to travel between Mornington Crescent, Goods Way (or the #GoogleBridge) and Angel/ Farringdon Area (i.e. the area east and south east of the roads being discussed)
  2. Enable cyclists to travel between Kings Cross Square and Angel / Farringdon Area
  3. Enable cyclists to travel north south along Caledonian Rd to Elephant and Castle (as planned by TfL)

“Removing the gyratory would appear an easy win here: helping travel (of bikes and cars) in both directions, and reducing the scariness of a three lane route.

“But in reality, the proposals would do nothing to make cycling safer or easier in the area. Below, I’ve briefly set out the main points where we think Atkins could improve on their current plans:

Going from west to east, the options are Pentonville Rd, Northdown St, and Killick St.

“None of these roads would be accessible for cyclists. Pentonville Rd is simply too big and scary, while poor junction designs prevent turning off Caledonian Rd into Northdown St or Killick St. Even coming from Wharfdale Rd, crossing Caledonian Rd would still be tricky with a tiny space for bikes to perch in the middle of the road.

Going from east to west, cyclists need to use Wharfdale Rd, Balfe St, or Caledonia St or Kings Cross Bridge/Grays Inn Rd/York Way.

“Once again, none of these roads are accessible. Kings Cross Bridge/Grays Inn Rd is terrifying, involving crossing 4 lanes of traffic. Meanwhile, Caledonia St and Wharfdale rd are both one-way west east so blocked off for bikes wanting to go east to west.

“In response to these concerns, there are some basic solutions available. In particular, cycling could enabled in the area be by making Caledonia St and Wharfdale Rd two way for cyclists, and redesigning the junctions of Caledonian Rd with Northdown St and Killick St to ensure they are accessible by bike.

“But even more than these cycling related concerns, I wonder if we couldn’t make the area a whole lot nicer for all simply by removing a lane of motor traffic altogether. The more I look at it, the more I question the need for three lanes of traffic at all on this stretch of the Cally Rd. There could either be two lanes of two way or two lanes of one-way southbound traffic with northbound vehicles continuing to use York Way-Wharfdale Rd.

“Indeed, wouldn’t a more pleasant, safer solution be to make the entire third lane of traffic a cycle only lane from Pentonville Rd to Wharfdale Rd? This would also help to reduce pollution, and act as a buffer between pedestrians and traffic, making Caledonian Rd a nicer place to shop, work, and live.”

Many thanks to Islington Cyclists Action Group for this article.

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 Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, Planning, Licensing and Regulation, Road Safety in Kings Cross and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Islington Cyclists Action Group on proposed changes to The Cally

  1. Albert Beale says:

    From: Albert Beale, 5 Caledonian Road (

    I share ICAG’s view that the plans don’t do much for people cycling. And I’m unconvinced that making the whole of the south end of Cale Road two way makes sense while Pentonville Road etc stay as they are.

    I much prefer leaving the one-way part of Cale Road as one-way for motor vehicles, but cutting it to 2 lanes (with one of them for buses, though with deliveries allowed off-peak ), and using the spare space for a two-way bike lane (and maybe widening the pavements a little too). If it all became two-way, there wouldn’t be room for a segregated two-way cycle lane and even one bus lane, let alone one in each direction. And in my view a wide segregated two-way cycle lane is the single most important thing that’s needed.

    I’m particularly alarmed at the possibility that two-way traffic in the southernmost part of Cale Road, south of Caledonia Street, would leave less scope for bus lanes.

    And if Cale Road was all two-way, then east-bound traffic turning north into Cale Road, either from Pentonville Road or Caledonia Street, would have a tight turn which would make the pavements even more dangerous for pedestrians. [I know that, generations ago, there were buses using Caledonia Street, but they only ever turned right into the bottom of Cale Road, and so weren’t making a tight turn; also, buses weren’t quite so massive in those days…]

    I also support making Caledonia Street and Wharfdale Road two-way for bikes, and I support increased permeability for bikes in the roads just north of Pentonville Road and Euston Road – though I suspect that getting a usable east-west through route for bikes of any length along that corridor is sufficiently difficult that it shouldn’t distract from the urgent need for traffic calming along the east-west main roads.

    Also, though slowing the intimidating traffic on some of the one-way system at Kings Cross would be good for all of us (both physically and mentally), especially pedestrians, as someone who cycles in the area every day I have to say that from a cycling point of view the problems of the one-way roads are trivial compared to the danger of the main junctions.

    Rebalancing road space and traffic light phasing away from motor vehicles and towards cyclists and pedestrians, at all the main Kings Cross junctions, is far and away the most single important change needed at Kings Cross – beside that, proposals to adjust the one-way system are pretty insignificant.

    Albert Beale

  2. Gyratory removal? The engineers will twist their ‘Journey Time Reliability’ calculations to justify more road way, ignoring the KX Place Plan and the Manual for Streets and their own Urban Realm guidelines. After Bikes Alive, we are offered two token strips of green painted segregated cycle lane.

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