The return of the Cally Road to two way working has changed the traffic flows in Kings Cross at a time when they were changing anyway due to new development. The new Cally two-way was designed to be part of longer term changes to get rid of the lethal 1970s gyratory that blights the area. I lived on Wharfdale Road and the Cally in the gyratory for about three years all told and the traffic made it unpleasant. So the changes it should only be seen as part of a whole, including for instance the huge improvement to Wharfdale with traffic calming ‘nibs’ and reduction in lanes and speeds.
Yesterday’s blog post on the single yellow line changes has set off a round of comments on the website and on email where people complain about the impact of two way working. In particular long queues of standing traffic giving off fumes. Cllr Convery in an email to a number of residents has written a detailed narrative on how things are going as the council addresses teething problems, wrestles with TfL and local developers with the long term goal of gyratory removal (which sounds like a dental practice and is about as pleasant) in mind. Here’s Cllr Convery’s email:
The new Caledonian Road two-way traffic scheme is being monitored by the Council and will be fine-tuned to make sure any adverse impacts are dealt with. This will include the phasing of traffic lights and dealing with the risk of “rat-running” in any adjacent streets.
Please let me re-assure you that this scheme does not change the total number of vehicles using Wharfdale Road or Caledonian Road or the side streets. Forgive me is I repeat text int his reply which replicates things I may have said to some of those copied-in to this email.
Firstly, returning Caledonian Road’s one-way traffic system to two-way traffic is the initial stage of an ambitious plan to completely remove the gyratory system around Kings Cross. There is an increasingly realistic prospect that Transport for London, which is responsible for most of the major roads in the gyratory, will come forward with options to make this happen.
The main reason to return roads around Kings Cross to conventional two-way traffic movement is to change the balance between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. In short, we want pedestrians to become the main users of the area around Europe’s largest public transport interchange. The south end of Caledonian Road is now busy with pedestrians in volumes that no-one could imagine 10 or 15 years ago and it’s important that we reconfigure the highway so that it is less engineered for the benefit of vehicles that are driving through the neighbourhood coming from somewhere else and going to somewhere else.
The scheme has also allowed Islington Council to redesign the junction at Killick Street so that Wharfdale Road cycle users can now cross over to Killick Street (South) and towards Pentonville Road. This fits in to a plan which is shared with Camden to help cyclists bypass the worst of the Kings Cross intersection with its inherent dangers for cyclists.
We recognise that more work is needed, for example, installing directional signs from York Way into Caledonian Street and then left into Caledonian Road. This has to be done with Camden because it is the highway authority for York Way. Cyclist in particular have asked for better signing because it is a very much safer route for cyclists going from Kings Cross northwards. Because the new route is not widely known to users such as black cab drivers, the Council has asked the taxi trade (via LTDA) to publicise the changes to the road layout to encourage more black cabs to use the northbound lane. Some additional time will also be required whilst the street layout changes are incorporated into updated releases of GPS software.
Two further changes are now being considered by the Council:
The phasing of the lights at the Killick Street junction is now different to the previous signals and this is mainly to allow greater priority for pedestrians and cycles. The Council is monitoring the vehicle movements in order to adjust the signals phasing so that southbound traffic queuing at these lights returns to previous patterns.
Some vehicles are now rat-running from Wharfdale Road to All Saints Street to avoid the lights at the Killick Street junction and measures will be undertaken to reduce or stop this.
The Council is already consulting on changes to parking rules which will restrict parking on the northbound lane because traffic is being hindered by parked vehicles.
Over the wider area, there are two other improvements which Islington Council is considering although these will also require the agreement of Camden Council:
Remodelling the junction of Wharfdale Road and York Way in conjunction with the hotel development at 60 York Way to ensure a wider pavement, reduce the blind pedestrian corners and enable more pedestrians to use both pavements along York Way
Keeping the prohibited right turn from Goods Way south into York Way. This was originally introduced to prevent construction traffic using Wharfdale Road and over the past 3 years Caledonian Ward Councillors have insisted that Camden retains this restriction. The Goods Way/York Way junction is about to be rebuilt to provide 3 light controlled pedestrian crossings in place of the current single crossing. As part of that rebuild, the right hand turn prohibition (except cycles) will become permanent. This is one of the most important factors that protects Wharfdale Road from significantly greater vehicle volumes.
Traffic movements around the wider area have changed immensely in the past 2 years but particularly in the most recent 4 to 6 months. Now that Goods Way is no longer impeded, the volume of vehicles using Goods Way in both directions has massively increased. As you will recall there was a long period when it was completely closed and traffic volumes throughout the area reduced as a result. It has now become very actively used by traffic servicing the stations, the new N1C development and for traffic bypassing the whole Kings Cross area.
One particular impact which is very illustrative has been the massive increase in traffic using Copenhagen Street. Many mornings at 9am traffic is queued the entire stretch between York Way and Caledonian Road. On Copenhagen Street are 2 primary schools and a nursery / children’s centre and one of the hardest working school crossing (“lollipop”) officers I have ever met. That scale of change has all happened in the course of a few recent months as the ecology of traffic movement around Kings Cross has evolved in ways that were relatively unpredictable. For this reason, we are shortly to meet with Camden to discuss how S106 money (payments made to Camden by Argent, the N1C developers) will now be used to mitigate the effects of their development. In addition, we have secured further s106 money to improve highways around the hotel development at 60 York Way and I expect some of this will go to reduce traffic impacts on Wharfdale Road.
I am hopeful that we can adjust the Caledonian Road scheme so that it achieves the intention to calm the traffic on Caledonian Road, give priority to pedestrians and cyclists and mitigate or remove adverse impacts which have emerged.
One point not addressed here is the fiasco of the Institute of Physics at Balfe Street, that was permitted recently – this will attract 800 people a day to this part of the Cally and so far we see no plans to use S106 money from that to offset the local impact of this many visitors, their taxis and bicycles.