Local ward Cllr Paul Convery and the Islington officer in charge of the Caledonian Road scheme Paul Taylor met with residents on Wharfdale Road last Wednesday evening. A resident’s read out of the meeting is in the comments. Thanks to resident pressure, the light phasing is being changed iteratively over the next few weeks with a SCOOT system that adjusts itself to manage queues and pollution monitors being installed. I am sure local people will let us know in the comments how well this is working.
Paul Convery wrote to residents as below:
Thank you everyone who came out to the street on the evening of last Wednesday. I am writing to confirm what we discussed and to let you know what will be the next steps.
I fully recognise that the traffic queuing at the new lights on both Wharfdale Road and Caledonian Road (north of Killick Street) is causing serious noise and exhaust problems to nearby residents.
As I explained on Wednesday evening, the intention of this changed road layout is to (a) create a safe cycle route from Wharfdale Road into Killick Street (south) and towards Pentonville Road; (b) improve the pedestrian environment around the Killick Street junction; (c) introduce a calming effect on the southern section of Caledonian Road by reintroducing 2 way working; and to regulate the congestion and queuing that had affected the lower parts of Caledonian Road.
There has been strong public support for an ambitious plan to completely remove the gyratory system around Kings Cross and to return conventional two-way traffic in most of the roads. We hope to change the balance between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists so that pedestrians become the main users of the area around what is now Europe’s largest public transport interchange and it’s important that we reconfigure the highway so that it is less engineered for the benefit of vehicles. There is a very realistic prospect that Transport for London, which is responsible for most of the major roads in the gyratory, will soon come forward with options to make this happen. However, we need to maintain pressure on them.
The reintroduction of 2 way traffic in the Caledonian Road is meant to be a first step in that plan.
However, by introducing a lights controlled junction at Killick Street this has resulted in queueing and stationary traffic. As I said on Wednesday evening, the lights were installed “out of the box” with quite crude fixed timings for the red/green phases. An additional piece of electronics was installed to the system on Friday (known as “SCOOT”) which adjusts the red/green phases according to the levels of traffic on the each of the roads. Initially the system had given longer green phases to Caledonian Road traffic which resulted in queues on Wharfdale. The SCOOT system will adjust the red/green phases on a second-by-second basis depending on traffic volumes on each of the roads. For example, if the carriageway sensors indicate heavy traffic flow on Wharfdale Road, the signals will provide a long green phase to Wharfdale Road and allow that traffic to move. We propose a couple of weeks to for the SCOOT system to bed in and we will undertake queue length surveys after the schools Easter break to make sure the system is modelling the traffic flows correctly.
Also discussed at the meeting were several further issues which we will be responding to by:
introducing new parking restrictions on the northbound lane to ensure it is clear of any parking, to reduce risks of vehicles pulling into the southbound lane and I expect this will be implemented on 16th March;
checking that the audible pedestrian crossing warning is switched off between 22:00 – 07:00. This is the standard hours applied to all audible indicators and we have asked the TfL commissioning engineer to confirm this is operating correctly;
recognising the air pollution problems, we intend to arrange air monitoring equipment to be installed and I hope this might be extended to other parts of the Wharfdale/York Way/Cally Road gyratory
I really do understand how much this change has caused distress to people living alongside the new lights and I am very sorry that we were unable to implement a better phasing of the lights from the very start. I accept that significant adjustments will need to be made to the phasing and we are going to do that. However, it will be several weeks before the system is fully responding in the flexible way that the SCOOT system is designed to do.
Finally, I promise you that we are going to urgently raise with Camden Council the wider traffic problems in the neighbourhood caused by the KX development. Camden is just as concerned as Islington about the need to push on faster with plans to remove the gyratories around Kings Cross and I have asked the Leader of the Council if we can get TfL to speed-up the feasibility exercises they have begun.
I hope this answer goes some way to assuring you that we will do our best to address the problems caused by heavy traffic movements at the Killick/Wharfdale junction and make changes that will improve conditions for you and your neighbours.
Labour Councillor for Caledonian Ward,
Executive Member for Community Safety
(Policing, crime, licensing and public protection)
Town Hall, Upper Street, London N1 2UD