Concerns over TfL interim proposals for gyratory

Last week Transport for London announced a programme of removing old style gyratory systems across London including King’s Cross, which we welcome here with the proviso that the new road system designs provide substantial improvement for vulnerable road users as well as motor traffic. Designs are yet to be revealed and consulted on. Meanwhile TfL has announced interim alterations to the King’s Cross gyratory to be implemented this summer, and right now we are rather concerned about these…

Interim proposals for the KX gyratory from TfL

Interim proposals for the KX gyratory from TfL

Two problems are immediately obvious on viewing the proposed interim changes:

Caledonian Road two way traffic

1. TfL say they have consulted stakeholders before releasing the interim plans. Islington Council consulted on removing the Caledonian Road/Wharfdale Road section of the gyratory in October last year. Works have now started on this. The TfL plan shows Caledonian Road as one-way traffic. I’m not sure what TfL means by ‘stakeholder consultation’ but releasing plans that are out of date at the time they are published shows a lack of basic information let alone stakeholder consultation. The phrase ‘these people are managing our traffic systems – agh!’ springs to mind.

Road safety for all

2. The plans appear to have been drawn up by someone wearing filter goggles only allowing them to see one issue – cycle safety – and not see that particularly well.


Where are the interim plans for the Euston Road/Pancras Road junction?

Count down crossings

count down crossingWhy, when countdown pedestrian crossings have been introduced at Euston and the area close to the Universities, are there no countdown crossings at King’s Cross where they are desperately needed – particularly but not solely for Euston Road/Pancras Road and Euston/Pentonville/Gray’s Inn Road and York Way.

The current pac-man style eat ’em up game played by buses, lorries, motorbikes and cars at these junctions is terrifying for me and I’ve lived here 25 years – seeing the startled faces on thousands of pedestrian visitors to the area each day when fast traffic comes at them at the strangest of angles would be hilarious if it weren’t potentially deadly. The interim plans look like they’ll make this worse – by eating into pedestrian spaces – not better.

Vulnerable road users

Cycle safety is in the news right now and rightly so. But witness the buzz term ‘vulnerable road users’ being employed in interviews by those campaigning for road safety and you’ll see how hard it is for them to get the message across: SAFETY FOR ALL. Cherry picking one issue is plain madness, no matter how much it panders to tabloid style dumbo journalism.

I’ve had a bit of a rant about a few, but not all, issues of concern about the interim plans, for which I apologise… Your comments are most welcome here but… most importantly… TfL is running a consultation so please, please make your views known that way (let us know what you said, it’d make an interesting article to list all your comments to TfL when the consultation ends):

King’s Cross interim plan consultation events

4 and 11 March
4.30pm to 7pm
King’s Cross Neighbourhood Centre, Argyle Street, WC1H 8EF

The consultation website includes a link for you to give your comments.


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, Road Safety in Kings Cross. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Concerns over TfL interim proposals for gyratory

  1. Albert Beale says:

    From: Albert Beale, 5 Cally Road

    A few initial points – all I have time for now.

    I really dislike the “countdown” pedestrian crossings – the idea that pedestrians have a set time to cross is absurd – we all take the time we need according to how mobile/laden/etc we are. In my experience, motorists use the visible timing as an excuse to intimidate pedestrians and tell us that we “should have crossed” already; I get harassed by motorists far more on these crossings if I “can’t cross fast enough” than I do on normal crossings. What’s needed is not countdowns (which also seem to have been used as an excuse to cut back on the length of the pedestrian phase in some places they’ve been used), but 2 other things: Firstly, much longer and more frequent green phases for pedestrians; secondly, enforcement of the rule that green (for a motorist) does NOT mean “go”, it means “go if the way is clear”, ie motorists should wait until pedestrians have finished crossing, irrespective of the colour of the light. This rule is now completely ignored by most motorists.

    As to the interim road changes to make cycling safer – well, one of the main changes does no more than undo the increased danger introduced when the last (relatively small-scale) changes were made a year or two back, ie it would stop the pincer movement when eastbound buses outside Kings Cross going straight ahead are allowed to use the left-turn lane at the lights. Yet this problem (which was obvious, and was pointed out at the time but ignored) could be fixed now, in 5 minutes, by changing one traffic sign!!

    The other way in which the roads were made _worse_ for cyclists at the time of the last amendments was by moving the two-lanes-into-one pinch point for traffic from Grays Inn Rd to York Way round the blind bend and hence making it even more frightening. This interim scheme doesn’t do the one thing which is needed – ie to take out one of the traffic lanes heading north out of Grays Inn Road and replacing it with a bike lane.

    I agree with some of the general thrust of this post – ie what’s needed is not a bit of paint on the road for bikes, but serious restriction of and calming of motor vehicles, so that the whole area is less dangerous and intimidating for both cyclists and pedestrians. The bits of paint which are proposed are largely pointless unless they are accompanied by completely separate traffic light phases for cyclists (and much longer phases for pedestrians too).

    I’m not really sure of what the logic is of doing something like this, which looks quite significant but which in practice isn’t, rather than getting on with sorting out whatever fuller changes are supposed to be in the pipeline.


  2. Albert Beale says:

    And the suggested bike lane on the left, at the very southern end of York Way, is absurd. Given the tightness of that turn (not to mention the fact that buses then need to pull into their stops), any left-turning cyclist there would be run into the kerb by a left-turning bus or HGV if they tried to use that lane rather than sprinted ahead onto the right-hand side as needs to be done now.


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  4. Andrew says:

    Hi Sophie – the potential removal of old style gyratory systems is good news – but I can’t see anywhere on the TfL website details of that being announced. I found mention of the Algate gyratory, and an announcement that they are looking at making King’s Cross safer (and not specifically the gyratory). Can you please point me in the right direction – keen to find out more!

  5. Referring back to the original post: There are many things wrong with TfL’s proposals for this junction but out-of-date plans isn’t one of them. The section of the Cally that is being made 2-way does not include the section at this junction, so TfL’s plans are correct.

    Something urgently has to be done to this junction. It has already been responsible for one cyclist death, Deep Lee in Oct 2011, almost two and a half years ago. But Camden Cyclists cannot agree that these interim proposals will bring a net increase in safety for vulnerable road users of this junction, cyclists and pedestrians. We have two major objections:
    • The proposals take cyclists onto the pavement at an extremely pedestrian-busy junction. This would bring cyclists and pedestrians into conflict and quite likely, into collision.
    • The proposals fail to meet TfL’s own 2005 Cycle Design Standards.

    Camden Cyclists have a thread on Cyclescape about this scheme:
    At the top of that thread is a link to TfL’s consultation. We urge everyone who cares to respond to this consultation.

  6. Tony Rees says:

    Re the change to two way traffic in Caledonian Road, the “consultation” was a simple “yes”, “no” questionnaire, no indication whatsoever of why this change was proposed, or what the likely effects would be for road users or for those of us living and working in this section of Caledonian Road. I raised a number of queries and asked that these be addressed and put to local people before a decision was made. Next I hear is that the change has been approved. So much for consultation.

    I can see no practical justification for the change, very little traffic uses Caledonia Street, so the need for a north bound lane can’t be shown. Northbound traffic will still be able to use Wharfedale Road. Also Caledonia Street is often semi-blocked by lorries delivering to Tescos, so how many vehicles will use this route?

    It seems logical that if the same volume of southbound traffic is squeezed into one lane rather than the two lanes we have at present, the tailbacks will be twice as long, which means more stationary traffic outside homes and businesses and more noise and pollution. This will also have a knock-on effect in Wharfedale Road.

    I raised these questions because I don’t know whether this will be good or bad for us, but I do think we should have the full facts before a decision is made. On the face of it this seems more of a political decision than one based on practical need and a wish to improve our environment.

  7. This is the beginning of the piecemeal response to the vague so-called “objectives” on which we have been ‘consulted’ since 2010. The response is falsely focussed on ‘traffic’ rather than ‘living’.
    1. Improved safety for all road users, in particular pedestrian and cyclists
    2. Better balancing of traffic with the need to create an improved place to live, work and visit
    3. Improved accessibility for pedestrian, particularly for public transport and access to and from mainline stations
    4. Maintain bus journey time, services and infrastructure
    5. Appropriate provision for taxis, private hire vehicles, servicing and freight
    6. Retention of journey time reliability and capacity on the Inner Ring Road
    7. Ensuring suitable provision for coaches and tour buses
    8. Improved environment for people who live and work in the area

    These are not constructive or progressive aims, nor are they actually specific, measurable, achievable or time-limited objectives – especially 8 is a throwaway.

    We must work towards a more liveable town centre, with proveable and measurable safety, air quality, and street use and shop activity improvements.

    I agree with Albert that mechanised timing and increasing control over pedestrians is a step in the wrong direction – we should aim for a liveable place to chat with neighbours and spend time in our town centre. Reducing motor vehicle speed and space (by signal timings, reduced lanes and emissions controls) and instead increasing pedestrian accessibility, pedestrian surfaces and interest and providing ways for pedestrians (and cyclists) to spend more time in the area – for locals and visitors – would be far more important for a vital and economically viable town centre.


  8. Bas Bungish says:

    I’m a local resident on the cally and I cannot imagine how awful the traffic will get around this proposed two way system on the bottom end of the Caledonian Road.
    We will have to live with constant traffic jams in the rush hours if the plans go ahead.

  9. John Harltey says:

    I would concur with what Camden Cyclists say here and on their thread but would like to add my opposition to “countdown” pedestrain controls. Some studies say they make crossing more dangerous and they certainly put the motorist in a privileged position – “only x seconds to go before I can put my foot down”. My preference would be a timer showing how long the pedestrain has to wait before being allowed to cross – but of course TfL would dare put up a sign telling pedestrians they’ve go over 90 seconds before the lights are in their favour!

  10. Agree that the two way section at the bottom of the Cally will add nothing except congestion, especially in the southbound lane, which will be clogged with buses and cars.. A lot of cars will use Caledonia street as a rat run to go north, so I don’t see how it will help anything.

  11. It would be lovely if the crossings in kings cross allowed pedestrians to cross over the whole of Euston road both ways in one go. Also giving more time to cross. Its so dangerous.

    • Andrew says:

      My vote is for the removal of entire gyratory.

      On this page….

      …the following mention is made of “Community feedback”
      Representatives from cycling and pedestrian groups, as well as local resident and business groups, have been brought together in focus groups.
      These sessions were set up to identify what ideas people who live, work and travel in the area had about the best ways to improve local roads.
      We also met with Ward Councillors to seek their views. Combining the feedback from the focus groups and Councillors, we have developed objectives for the study.

      I emailed them asking who from the community has been involved, and when.

      Will – if they don’t get back to me, is there a way I can use FoI to find out who was consulted and when, so we can get clarity on what community feedback means?

  12. In response to Bas Bungish, road congestion / jams are only relative here, between stops at signalled junctions. Slow is better for all. Motor traffic is self-regulating in the long-term, whereas residents and pedestrians, like buses, cannot ‘detour’.

  13. I asked transport & cycling professor R Aldred whether TfL claims about traffic flow can be verified. The second northbound lane on Grays Inn Road only 100m long cannot be removed, says engineer J Elmer, because of 11min reduced journey time reliability (motorist “flow”).

    TfL does not seem to have consulted any of the thousands using Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations, and has ignored King’s Cross Place Plan and Manual for Streets 2. I doubt the engineers have tested the existing site live as cyclists or pedestrians, they have only done desk-based car modelling.

  14. Tony Rees says:

    In response to livingstreetskx, slow may be better but stationary is much worse. If we are to have standing traffic outside our shop and flat for twice the time we have at the moment, with the attendant increase in noise and pollution, this will be a major step backwards.

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