For over 30 years the local community at King’s Cross have been calling for removal of the notorious King’s Cross traffic gyratory system. The gyratory is dangerous, encourages poor driving habits, pushes traffic down small residential streets unsuitable for that amount and type of traffic, and blocks any improvement to what should be our shared public space. This week Transport for London, collaborating with Camden and Islington councils, published their initial plan to remove the gyratory. It opens the way to new possibilities for our neighbourhood. It’s over to us now to put flesh on the bones of the initial plan.
We think TfL deserves congratulation because the outline plan is more radical than many of us had dared hope for. Camden and Islington councils – officers and members – have done a sterling job representing what residents and businesses have asked for. Aside from one glaring omission at Acton Street, the gyratory would be completely removed. Although TfL states safety for pedestrians and cyclists is the most important aim, their plan could quieten various streets paving the way for real public realm improvements.
It is absolutely vital each and every one of us that lives, works, studies in King’s Cross or just visits here gives TfL our reactions to the initial plan. If we don’t supply them with our ideas, criticisms and suggestions they won’t have the information they need to develop this initial plan into a detailed proposal.
Bear in mind the North/South cycle superhighway proposal which will need to work hand in glove with this initial plan.
The initial plan outlines gyratory removal but it is an opportunity for so much more. Do comment on what new public space it might create, how that should be designed and what it should be used for. Comment on how exactly cycle lanes should be designed. Comment on pedestrian crossings – which ones would work, how they should be designed. Comment on how good design could benefit disabled people, the elderly, carers, families, local schools and playgroups and why. Comment on everything and anything you’d like to see included in the final proposal.
Get your comments in
To get your comments in you can:
- Attend one of the four drop-in sessions this month at King’s Place on York Way N1 9AG. Monday 15th 6.30pm-8.30pm, Friday 19th 2pm-5pm, Saturday 20th 2pm-5pm or Friday 26th 10am-midday.
- Complete the online survey here (you can only give very broad feedback here so do email or write in as well).
- Email TfL here.
- Write to FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS.
The timetable is:
- Deadline for your feedback 20th March 2016.
- Consultation report on our feedback published summer 2016.
- Detailed proposals using our feedback published early 2017.
- Consultation on detailed proposals in 2017.
The next stage
If you’ve ever worked on a major consultation process you’ll know that next stage is a fraught one. Each individual comment should be recorded along with who said it, by what means and when so that there is a clear audit trail. Comments are then grouped together by the topic they relate to and each group is discussed to decide what will be included or not, and why. All this should be added to the audit trail. This is a long and arduous task.
Discussions about our comments will include weighing conflicting comments and deciding which way to go and why. For example, should one amenity like a bus stop be removed and replaced with another amenity like a quieter, healthier cleaner street? Or, how much road space can be given over to safe cycling routes and/or pedestrian safe routes and/or public open space?
Once the final long list of comments that will be used to develop the final proposal is agreed, these will be given to the road planners. They will have to model the impacts of each comment alone, in combination with other comments and in combination with other planned changes like the North South Cycle Superhighway. This is a long and arduous task.
Once this is done, the road planners will record which comments worked in their modelling process and which didn’t and should add this to the consultation audit trail. All of this will be presented to the committee responsible for agreeing the final proposals to be presented back to us. This is likely to be a period of horse trading with the committee asking the road planners to go back to the drawing board to either include a comment they previously rejected, or remove a comment they previously included. Previously unforeseen problems or opportunities may come to light that the committee want to see included. All of this should be added to the audit trail. This is a long and arduous task.
When everyone has agreed on the proposal to be put back to us, a timetable and set of methods for the next stage consultation will be agreed and published.
The only thing we have at the moment is a publicly announced intention to open the next stage consultation in early 2017. We must hold TfL to that, it can’t be allowed to slip as past TfL promises have. You may like to ask the candidates in the Mayoral election if they will commit to keeping to this date.
Callysouth organiser and local resident Alchemista:
“How rat-running will be discouraged? Which bus routes will be rerouted – and will the highly-polluting bus stop [on Wharfdale Road] be removed? Will HGVs still be able to use Wharfdale Road? Will there be traffic lights at the Wharfdale – Caledonian junction (let’s hope not)?”
“I welcome the proposed changes – I think – mainly because I live in Wharfdale Road and the proposals will hopefully result in fewer vehicles travelling past my flat. I have to agree though, that the real problem is the volume of traffic. The proposals in themselves will do nothing to alleviate this. I expect York Way, Goods Way, Pentonville and Euston Roads will be even more congested – with the idling traffic causing even more air pollution.”
“With new hotels and condos going up everyday in Kings Cross, to think that it could be turned into some kind of pedestrian/cycling paradise is pure folly. If the changes made to Wharfdale/Cally roads are any indication of what’s to come then we are all in for a lot more grief, pollution and noise – not less.”
KX Living Streets organiser and resident Greg:
“What remains to be seen is whether the planned restriction (and enforced ‘calming’) of motor traffic will improve the qualities of King’s Cross as a place. Vehicle traffic arrangements alone will not improve the place. Motor vehicle pollution may worsen until behaviour changes and we return to walking more, and being more locally involved and personally responsible for the local streets.”
Campaign for Better Transport:
“While the removal of gyratories is long overdue, especially on residential roads like Acton Street and Swinton Street, in each of these cases bus users are being penalised: loss of the bus station, loss of the interchange with the railway station, ditto plus the removal of a well-used bus service, and now proposed loss of one of the most effective bus lanes in London.
“I am all in favour of making cycling safer, but the road space for this must be taken from private cars, not pedestrians and bus users.”
London Cycling Campaign:
“The cycle routes they propose would not work due to constrained space (unless they removed motor traffic from these routes). The stated aims are clearly to improve the public realm for all users and particularly pedestrians and those on bikes… What is needed is reallocation of road space to pedestrians and cyclists at the expense of motor traffic.”
Camden Cycling Campaign:
“Sharing busy, heavily-used bus lanes isn’t satisfactory and will not encourage less confident cyclists. Many of the suggested roads are too narrow to provide protected cycle tracks alongside motor traffic unless the motor traffic on these roads is restricted.”
Whatever you do, please give your comments and suggestions in to TfL. Without our comments the final proposal will not be good enough.
For people living south of the canal near Caledonian Road, the callysouth group have set up a Gyratory page for you to discuss the initial plan further. They may also organise a local meeting so do watch their webpage for news.
Let us know if your local group is planning anything and we’ll help publicise it. Comments to this article are very, very welcome and we’ll summarise them in future articles.