Kings Cross four unidirectional lanes for cars, but sorry we are not able to afford space for a cycle lane, it would slow the cars down!

TfL argues that buses and cars would be delayed severely when segregated cycle lanes would be introduced in the main roads of Kings Cross.  In the appendix of their results of the most recent consultation, we are given a taste of TfL’s thinking which claims pedestrians would be pushed out and car traffic reduced to but one lane:

“In order to introduce segregated cycle lanes in Kings Cross, we would need to create the space for these by removing either lanes of traffic or pedestrian footway. If a lane of traffic were removed in both directions, it would result in significant delays to local traffic including buses. The subsequent queuing would raise safety concerns at other locations in the area. Removal of pedestrian footway would not be acceptable because there would not be adequate space provided for pedestrians in the area.”

I have to say that this appears to be flaunted on multiple levels.

If cyclists receive segregated lanes they are largely off the motorists patch.  This actually smooths the traffic flow, the magical formula that seems to be the measure of all at TfL. If I took the motorists view, a segregated cycle lane actually liberates motorists,  buses, lorries and cars from their worry about cyclists and gives cyclists the space and confidence they need at one of London’s most dangerous areas.

Suggestions to move the super highway cycle lane out to Judd Street, as suggested in the new proposal currently open to consultation (see our post earlier this week), will not remove the fact that cyclists will approach Kings Cross from all areas, just like motorists. It is half baked thinking to suggest, that you can push all cyclists out on an alternative route, and the problem is solved on the other roads.

So as far as TfL is concerned, much of Caledonian Road, Acton Street, Grays Inn Road, Pentonville Road, Kings Cross Road, Swinton Street and York Way will remain largely the same, with a few cosmetic new lines on the road here and there, but without segregated lanes that would make such a difference to all and bring this station into the 21st century.   Camden’s own latest proposals only affect the junction with Camley Street and the tunnel crossing (see here) Crucially Euston Road West-bound traffic will not have a cycle lane at all  (see here). The gyratory road system is to stay then, because drivers can be certain they can zoom through here?  At what cost, may I ask?  It is not in any way acceptable, if motorists continue to be are alluded that Kings Cross is an area they can quickly drive through, when in off peak hours speeds of 50 miles an hour a reached in a very dense area with many pedestrians.  It is neither OK continue to send the message that if you are inclined to, just use your car to reach the station to drop of your people at Kings Cross or St. Pancras.

One of the issues I believe we have here is not only inflexibility to make adjustments to the motor traffic road, but also an almost holy treatment of the pavement area as the sole eternal space for foot-folk.  It is all very unusual in the way most modern central European cities think about this. I have recently been to Germany and Austria and amongst others there is no real issue with shared roads and shared pavements.  London pedestrians, however, seem to need a space as large as the new square in front of Kings Cross  station all for themselves, as incapable as the motorists to deal with the wheeled menace that cyclists are depicted as. It is an argument, I also heard when cycling lobbies asked for some space or mutual use in the Royal Parks in London like Hampstead, only to hear that in Britain somehow cyclists and pedestrians are different creatures all together from the rest of Europe, with foot-folk being eternal victims to ever beastly and ferocious cyclists, neither of whom are able to share a path or adhere to dedicated lanes.

And even where spaces are more narrow ( a frequent argument against sharing roads, operating it in lanes et c.), it is funny how our European neighbours just seem to swiftly and quietly manage this, either on shared use pavements or  even on narrow pavements with a division-line that gives cyclists and pedestrians each a half.

Kings Cross Road and  Grays Inn Road not large enough for separate cycle ways?  Are they serious?  I think we are being pulled along our noses.  Both were certainly large enough to extend the footways a decade ago.

So the streets are dense? How come then, neither TfL Camden or Islington have implemented draconian measures to discourage added traffic since the new Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations opened?  Whilst you can not park for long, anyone is allowed to drop off passengers in Pancras Way.  From Euston Road there are no restrictions for private vehicles to come in here, in spite of a huge amount of public transport possibilities, that includes buses, trains and the London underground as well as taxis.

If the liberty for private drop offs is not to be abolished, why is there no aggressive charging system for such drop offs at St. Pancras / Kings Cross for anyone but disabled people and taxis?  There should be double yellow lanes throughout, with parking attendants ready to slap tickets on cars.  Beside the many U-turns cabbies and private cars make here is a real new menace to people crossing the road and to cyclists.

And then the whole argument on traffic flow is false anyway.  Living Streets rightly told me recently in a conversation that TfL conveniently omits traffic flow of non-motorists in their calculations, even though in theory they are just as much to be counted.  When pedestrians in and around two major train stations wishing to cross on Pentonville Road, Euston Road, Caledonian Road, Kings Cross Road, and Swinton Street,  have to wait excessively long and then risk to run across at red phases, and are further are stopped in their crossing halfway, to wait another two minutes to cross the other half, then something is seriously wrong in the design.

In the memory of Deep Lee, for our children and for our own interests as residents of Kings Cross, we will not stop to demand segregated cycle paths on all roads of Kings Cross, including those managed by TfL.  This includes:

  • Caledonian Road,
  • York Way,
  • Euston Road,
  • Grays Inn Road,
  • the Kings Cross Bridge,
  • Swinton Street and Swinton Place
  • Pentonville Road,
  • Acton Street,
  • Pancras Road
  • Midland Road and
  • Pentonville Rise.

We demand further that the review of the gyratory system is finally implemented.  And they say Boris Johnson is a true cyclist…  I like to see him and his chaps from TfL on Euston Road everyday, on Boris Bikes!  Maybe then he will understand.

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About Daniel Zylbersztajn

Daniel Zylbersztajn, is since 2012 correspondent to the German independent left of centre daily newspaper taz, die Tageszeitung and Jüdische Allgemeine, and a Pilates Teacher. Born in Germany but also raised in Holland and Israel, he is a long term resident of London Kings Cross (first in 1991), involved parent, local and social activist, and positive lifestyle advocate. He also held posts in research, and conflict work, a.o. for the Palestinian - Israeli peace village Wahat al Salam ~ Neve Shalom. He holds a BA in history and politics from SOAS and two Master degrees, in Urban Sociology (Goldsmiths) and Sports Coaching (Brunel). He is founding and committee member of Coram's Fields User Group, the parent and community voice of Central London's biggest and oldest children playground and was its first spokesperson and chair. Daniel tweets under @zylbersztajn
This entry was posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, New. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Kings Cross four unidirectional lanes for cars, but sorry we are not able to afford space for a cycle lane, it would slow the cars down!

  1. When cyclists are required to wear helmets by law I will support cycling initiatives but until then, I regard all cyclists as a menace and giving them lanes in Kings Cross, where the roads are already too narrow is madness.

  2. Thanks for the article Daniel. Unfortunately it seems TfL has decided to ignore the consultation feedback and to build cycle lanes onto the footway at King’s Cross Square and next to the Deep Lee memorial ghost bike. Personally I consider the ASZ box for cyclists at the point where 2 lanes of G I Road merge into one at York Way (northbound) to be deadly, and unconscionable. https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/streets/kingscross Greg

  3. By the way, to see what happens when lanes are reduced, see Caledonian Road south (construction site) this morning; motorists slow to a crawl and bicycles continue almost normally around them. Rather than approaching motorists queueing further, they simply divert to a different route. “Safety concerns at other locations in the area” is therefore completely specious.

  4. Albert Beale says:

    From: Albert, 5 Cally Road (worldpeace@gn.apc.org)

    Thanks for this Daniel. It overlaps with some of my comments in response to an earlier post the other day about the cycle route plans. It’s nonsense to think of major changes around Kings Cross which don’t include spacious and safe routes through for cyclists and for pedestrians. Of _course_ that’s likely to mean there isn’t space for all the motorised traffic. Excellent – much of it has no need to be at Kings Cross.

    The imminent “interim” changes at KX are yet another bodge which pretends to support cyclists but which leaves the main dangers untouched; and given the new super-route plans – which are rightly being criticised (as far as their KX part is concerned) – also avoid dealing with this, but ignore it by pretending that cyclists will avoid KX, then it’s a sign of the lack of serious and sincere intent underlying TfL’s pronouncements.

    Why is it that, time after time, TfL etc absolutely refuse to do what we all know is obviously needed to make KX safer and saner?

    Albert

  5. Pingback: Does this picture confirm that TfL plans to dump North South cycle superhighway traffic into Euston Road and Kings Cross gyratory at Judd Street? | Kings Cross Environment

  6. mclm says:

    Interesting to see in the pictures above of Salzburg that all the cyclists seem to be wearing normal everyday clothes and riding old fashioned sit up bikes not lycra clad Bradley Wiggins wannabes riding £1000 carbon fibre machines. Until cyclists realise that they are going to work and not taking part in the Tour De France or other time trial then the current hatred of cyclists will continue.

    • Andrew says:

      🙂

      I have found that since having kids, and cycling with them, it is 100% about the safety and 0% about reducing the commute time.

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