Wharfdale Road traffic – signal changes and statement from Councillor Convery

Traffic from lights 2040

Traffic from lights 2040

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.

Paul Convery

Labour Councillor for Caledonian Ward,
LB Islington
Executive Member for Community Safety
(Policing, crime, licensing and public protection)
Town Hall, Upper Street, London N1 2UD

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
This entry was posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, Road Safety in Kings Cross and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Wharfdale Road traffic – signal changes and statement from Councillor Convery

  1. Bert says:

    “I am sure local people will let us know in the comments how well this is working”

    …it’s not.

    We keep telling the two Paul’s what’s wrong and they keep telling us that nothing is. Mr. Convery’s letter above is simply a verbose regurgitation of placations desperately trying to convince everyone (but mostly himself I suspect) that his and the council’s huge mistake at this intersection has some other solution than a complete dismantling and return to its previous form.

    It doesn’t.

  2. And so Mr Paul Convery messed up with another issue and intentionally misses the point in his explanation. A typical wannabe politician. Well done to whoever voted for him.

    • Lynne says:

      Well I did, but will not be doing so in the future unless this problem is taken seriously, and a proper solution implemented. Neither will I be voting for Rupert ‘I drove my black cab along Caledonia St the other day’ Perry. When will our elected politicians wake up to the fact that their job is to listen to us? SPEED CAMERAS ON WHARFDALE ROAD PLEASE. Yes, I know I’m shouting, but sometimes you have to. Also: Smooth out the bumps on Wharfdale Road, so that the buses and concrete lorries don’t cause minor earthquakes and remove the traffic-calming on Caledonia Street, thereby making it a more attractive alternative route.

  3. Lynne says:

    There were often jams during peak hours turning right out of Wharfdale Road (although nothing like there are now). This traffic now only has one lane to turn into, so the jams will be worse. How difficult is this to understand? Camden may be in favour of removing the gyratory – but are they committed to making local residents’ lives miserable in the meantime? I don’t have the figures, so may be wrong on this, but it seems to me that Wharfdale Road, along with Copenhagen Street, is one of the residential streets in the Caledonian Ward most affected by heavy traffic. Islington’s solution? Just make it worse. Bizarre.

  4. Mark Pinkerton says:

    Good to hear about the Scoot system although the issue is slightly broader than just the lights at Wharfdale/Caledonian roads. Extra traffic at that junction is caused by poor traffic management on Goods Way (backing up to Copenhagen street). The lights at Copenhagen and York away are also problematic.
    Drivers attempt to find their way around this mess by going down Wharfedale or Caledonian Road where it meets Copenhagen Street.

    One solution to all these traffic light related problems would be to reduce the dead time between phases where all lights are red (up to 10 seconds on some lights) and remove unnecessary 4 way operation (at York Way/ Copenhagen & Goods Way/Camley).

    This would enhance the time for both traffic and pedestrians to help alleviate the problem. This would then reduce the pressure on Wharfdale/Caledonian.

    And wasn’t the traffic flow modelled before the changes were made? Otherwise seems there is a risk for wasted money here.

    • The big problem on Goods Way is the lane taken for the building work. As Taxi’s queue up (belching out diesel fumes, but that’s another story) they block the right hand straight ahead lane underneath St Pancras which means little through traffic gets through. As I walk to go for a swim its obvious what is happenning here, they need to create a 2nd lane for traffic to get around the cabs.

  5. Andrew says:

    Not trying to be controversial, but the traffic problems seem a lot better at the moment.

  6. chappy149 says:

    Traffic was terrible. I Will make an effort to monitor it now the new SCOOT system has been installed. I have never seen a single vehicle drive the other way along the Cally road yet.

    • Ewa says:

      I live a couple doors away from the traffic light and unfortunately it’s the same unbearable noise and smelly fumes as before. Horrid. I’m going to take my little boy to the doctor as he seems to have a headache most of the time, which I suspect is from the exhaust fumes.

      • Ewa says:

        The phasing of the lights isn’t the problem, the lights are the problem!
        If a bus sits outside for 50 seconds instead of 60, it’s still 50 seconds too long.

  7. Lynne says:

    Terrible jams this afternoon (Sunday) at 5.30, when I was walking home. Southbound traffic on Caledonian Road backed up all the way past the Wharfdale junction (no vehicles whatsoever in the northbound lane). Traffic on Wharfdale Rd backed up as far as York Way.

  8. chappy149 says:

    On Friday the lights were stuck on red for about an hour. I did a little recording in case it is any use to anyone here. I’m not looking forward to the summer when I like to have the doors open.

  9. Shirley Pinfold says:

    Unfortunately for some reason I don’t get the kings cross stuff anymore and would have certainly come to the meeting. I live in New Wharf Road and had sometime ago had written to Paul Convery about the traffic in Wharfdale Road and the avoidance that drivers take which is making New Wharf Road and All Saints St. a rat run. Cars and vans literally speed down New Wharf and take the corner into AllSaints St without slowing down. Coming from the Cally I have had two near misses and have had to reverse to allow an impatient convoy to come down the road. An accident waiting to happen. I saw someone on a bike make a very quick move to avoid a fast car. My son visiting on his scooter thought it was a scary experience and wanted to know what was happening around here. I wonder as well – what has been improved by this ridiculous change.

    Shirley Pinfold

  10. Lynne says:

    Nothing’s been improved. It’s been made worse. And it looks like nothing’s going to be done about it.

    • Shirley Pinfold says:

      The whole thing is a cock up as one resident of Ice Wharf commented. We all may dislike the gyratory but because the ever increasing flow of traffic it is probably the best way to keep things moving. The amount of cars and vans now speeding up New Wharf Road and not slowing down as they turn into All Saints St is so worrying and dangerous.


      Sent from my iPad


      • Lynne says:

        I’m looking at Wharfdale Rd out of my bedroom window right now – 9.07am. The whole road is a traffic jam (and has been for quite a while) and our local councillors really, really don’t care. The pollution is dreadful, and I’ve developed a sore throat over the last couple of weeks.

        Yes, the gyratory system is not nice, but I feel that the campaign to remove it may be based on misplaced nostalgia. What I care about is 1 The volume of traffic 2 The speed of the traffic (not too fast, not too slow). I don’t care whether it’s one-way or two-way.

        I think if Islington don’t do something about this mess soon (and they show no sign of doing so) then we need to organise ourselves and make them do it.

  11. Andrew says:

    One lorry has rear-ended another on Wharfdale Road, unfortunate accident. I don’t think anyone was badly hurt.

    Wharfdale Road has been closed for over an hour now, and it is very pleasant – no house shaking, not noise.

    • Ewa says:

      To Lynne, Shirley, Andrew and all other fed up residents, we are having a residents (only) meeting tomorrow, Sunday at 2pm at the King Charles I pub on Northdown, to discuss all this and make a plan. Please come.

  12. Ewa says:

    Still waiting for the air monitoring device that Paul Convery promised over a month ago !

  13. Melissa says:

    I also live in Wharfdale Road and since the changes there has been a drastic rise in fumes and traffic to the point that it is hard to sleep at night because of the noise. All that this change has seemed to cause is higher pollution levels and increased traffic. To date i have seen two cars travelling along the new lane…. what a joke!!!!!

  14. James Melly says:

    I’ve also noticed rat-run usage of New Wharf Road.

    It would be possible to remove one phase of the lights completely by not allowing traffic coming north up Killick Street to turn left into Caledonian Road. Very few vehicles go that way and those that need to can use Collier and Northdown Streets.

  15. Sophie Talbot says:

    Modern road traffic modelling shows that removing gyratories and making streets two way has two major effects:

    1. It reduces traffic
    2. It slows down traffic

    These are the reasons residents set up the KY Gyrations campaign to remove the King’s Cross gyratory.

    • Ewa says:

      That does sound good but if you speak to older residents, they will tell you that when all the streets were 2 way, it was awful- a ring of gridlock, dangerous and polluted. And fewer cars back then.

  16. Ewa says:

    Seriously ridiculously noisy out there….beeping, music out of windows and the buses ! It’s as bad as ever.

  17. Ewa says:

    There is going to be a residents meeting about traffic noise and air pollution this Sunday, May 10th, 2pm at the King Charles pub on Northdown street. We have a chair and agenda. Please come.

    • Shirley pinfold says:

      Really want to be involved but I am helping at an asylum seekers drop in at the time of the meeting .i am sure to be in agreement with all the complaints.

      I don’t think anyone is listening and if our vote is wanted at the next local election they should listen to us.


  18. Ewa says:

    Seriously horrendous traffic all day, gridlock, bedroom full of exhaust fumes. I’m so angry.

    • Ivan says:

      Went to the meeting today and I have to say a complete waste of time.Nothing is going to make Islington Council reverse this stupid idea. I blame Scoot for this whole mess.There is no logic to this crazy idea whatsoever.It is a complete mess, i wont be attending anymore meetings and i feel i wont be the only one.Eventually the support will dwindle out.Lots of waiting until September then after the next mayoral elections then after we land a man on Mars.

      • alchemista says:

        Hi Ivan

        I was also highly irritated by the attitude of the council – as I suspected I would be. However, I disagree that the meeting was a complete waste of time. I have already had a response this morning to a request for information that I made some time ago – which will hopefully contain answers to questions that they really should have been able to answer last night, but for some reason couldn’t. (they will get the requested information to me by tomorrow). The obvious anger of a lot of people in the room must have spurred them into action.

        They have, at last, admitted publicly that there is a problem. They have given us a timescale for monitoring improvements to the SCOOT system, and they have also installed pollution monitors at several locations in the area – there were none here before.

        I spoke with other members of our group after the meeting last night, and we are all agreed that getting HGVs off Wharfdale Road (and therefore reducing the numbers on Caledonian Rd) is a priority. We had already discussed this, and made suggestions to Islington’s only Green Party councillor, Caroline Russell – who supports us on this. So we are pleased that the council are going to raise this with TfL.

        We are also pleased that whilst waiting for TfL to make a decision about banning HGVs from Wharfdale Rd (who knows how long that might take?), the council are going to try to persuade the concrete manufacturers to voluntarily use other routes.

        We intend to make sure that the council do actually do this, and to lobby the concrete firms ourselves as well. This will obviously have much more effect if we have as large a number of people involved as possible. We put a lot of time and effort into arranging the meeting, and in getting as many people as possible to attend. We will continue to work hard on this.

        We never expected to get exactly what we wanted after one meeting – unfortunately, it doesn’t work like this.

        We hope that you will reconsider your intention not to attend any more meetings.

      • Ewa says:

        I don’t blame Scoot, I blame the council for introducing the scheme in the first place, that they knew was going to cause traffic queues and hence, noise and pollution. They also said they don’t have the money to reverse it. Well on health grounds alone, they should find it. The residents I spoke to after the meeting, were more determined than ever, to continue to fight to reverse this ill-fated scheme.

  19. Shirley Pinfold says:

    Scoot is a machine how can you blame a machine? My question is what is the point of monitoring pollution – we know about the pollution. So we need to know why and what they are going to do with the results. I could understand the feelings of the person who lives in the Cally Road and those of you who have so much noise and pollution in your homes. Surely there must be an outside body who can insist on changes to the problems.

    • alchemista says:

      Hi Shirley,

      I’m a member of the group who are running the campaign to get air pollution in the area reduced, and who also arranged the meeting with the council yesterday evening.

      I think a lot of us ‘know’ there is more pollution in the air. Quite a few of us are suffering from respiratory complaints, itchy eyes etc. This is one of the reasons we started the campaign (the other reason being the increase in noise pollution).

      But currently, there is no actual data for the immediate area – any numerical data that we have (eg from King’s College), is based on modelling, using measurements from monitors some way away.

      It is important that we have data based on actual measurements taken in the area. It makes our case more credible.

      Regarding outside organisations: we are looking into this.

      We will be posting updates on our website.

  20. Penny says:

    I have noticed that the traffic has been congested all around the gyratory esp in Wharfdale where I live since Monday. Cars are not respecting the lights and blatantly parking on the crossings. There are huge trucks and cement mixers from all the building sites in the new development area that are completely blocking the crossings so trying to cross with three young children one who is autistic I am taking my life and theirs in my hands. Their school is at Winton so I have to cross eight times a day to collect and drop off at the nursery and school. Twelve today as my son finishes later. I cannot see around the trucks and cannot even see if the lights are about to change. With a double buggy I can hardly just poke my head forward to see if there are cars or bikes or motorbikes coming in the lane behind the truck. I envision a very serious accident unless this is tackled soon. What can we do about the lights? Or these drivers? Take a photo and send it in somewhere?? People are so aggressive nowadays that this could provoke a bad reaction and if anyone shouts around my son who is autistic he will start shouting and being very aggressive and hard to handle. A situation others often take advantage of!! Sad but a fact of life. Tricky with two hands three kids and a double buggy. Also the pollution has brought on my asthma due to backed up traffic all the way back to my house at Balfe St.

    • alchemista says:

      Hi Penny

      I live in Wharfdale Road as well. The traffic lights at the junction of Wharfdale Road and Caledonian Road were installed in November 2014, when part of Caledonian Road was made two-way. The scheme has been a cause of misery for Wharfdale residents as well as for people living on Caledonian Road to the north of the junction.

      A group of us have been campaigning for the scheme to be reversed, and we have been promised that it will be, hopefully within the next few weeks.

      You can get updates on http://www.callysouth.co.uk


    • Shirley Pinfold says:

      Living in New Wharf Road I almost daily see very near misses of either cars coming from the Caledonian Road or of pedestrians crossing near the corner of New Wharf and All Saints Strret This is because of vans and cars rat running from Wharfdale Road to avoid the traffic lights.

      An avoidance of this would be to site the traffic lights just before New Wharf Road. The lights could still be synchronised with the Caledonion Road lights and would help prevent a tragic accident which so far we have been lucky enough to avoid.

      Lavinia Grove also is used as a rat run

      Shirley Pinfold

      Sent from my iPad


      • alchemista says:

        Hi Shirley

        Islington Council have promised that the lights will be removed within a few weeks, and replaced with pelican crossings. Almost all residents of Wharfdale Road don’t want traffic lights, full stop. The lights have turned Wharfdale Road into a bus/lorry park, with traffic regularly backed up as far as King’s Place.


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