The Wait continues for Changes to the Kings Cross Gyratory

TFL says it needs more time and more consultations on Kings Cross.

It is not an unknown. In fact, most people in London will recognize Kings Cross as a manic place for traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. We at Kings Cross Environment have written in detail and repeatedly about the need for the gyratory system to go. See

After a consultation in 2015 by TfL, the third in 20 years, TfL suggested dramatic changes in 2016. It involved changing streets adding cycle lanes, adding crossings.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 23.25.29

Here are some of the further particulars of the report.

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see in fill

Of 1.042 respondents,

  • 81 % supported additional pedestrian crossings at various junctions
  • improvement to pedestrian experience and cycling rated as highest priorities
  • 70 % supported overall proposals
  • 63% supported some two-way streets and changing single lane streets
  • 63% supported the reduction of traffic an improvement of the environment
  • 67% supported new cycling facilities including counterflow lanes for bicycles

Last year, when I raised the matter, Islington Councilor Paul Convey, who keeps a close interest in this matter, believed that the process would begin this year, 2018. The only work that did however continue is further up South on Kings Cross Road, due to the construction of the Cycle Super Highway CS6.

As to the gyratory changes, Nigel Hardy, TfL’s Head of Programme Sponsorship, told Kings Cross Local Environment last week: “We continue to work closely with Camden and Islington Councils on our plans to promote healthy streets and make improvements for vulnerable road users at King’s Cross.” And further

The gyratory system runs through one of London’s busiest areas and construction work for our planned transformation needs careful coordination with a number of other significant schemes, including HS2. Work on the gyratory at Judd Street started this week and work at Midland Road is set to begin over the coming months, with further consultation and construction at other sections of the gyratory in 2019.”

In other words, brace yourself for more delays, in spite of some words we were given by the Mayor on London Sadiq Khan in 2016, that he would seek reassurances on implementation timetables:

“Transport for London (TfL) has been consulting on a redesign since 2011 and that they intend to consult on a high level proposal shortly and on final details in 2017. Sadiq understands there are frustrations around delays with the process and he will contact TfL to seek reassurances around the timetable and that local people are being properly consulted.”

This seems a long wait, maybe endless, for people in the area, not just those who live here, but the millions of pedestrians that go through that area. The traffic and pollution and obstruction are constant. Maybe there are also other reasons. Repeatedly one reads on TFL’s financial losses. Maybe there is simply no money in the chess drawer for new plans?

Example near Weston Rise. Still economy of car traffic over experience and safety of pedestrians?

When I recently asked, as I do from time to time, if a pedestrian crossing over Pentonville Road could be slightly improved by moving it a bit (at Weston Rise) to make this crossing at this very busy road an easier and safer pedestrian experience, I was right to be sceptical and wonder, if I should bother highlighting the issue at all.

The issue is but one small silly oversights of many. I had found through day-to-day observation over three years now (it is on my daughter’s way to school, which I frequent five days a week) that 90 per cent of Southbound pedestrians, amongst them many school children, did not use the push bottom operated crossing here at all, in spite of it being there. In other words, the local public condemned the crossing as totally not fit for its needs.

If you are interested in the partculars see the end of the article in (1). In any case, after highlighting the issue, I did receive a phone call from TFL An officer told me told that “traffic flow” was the all-important factor (so not pedestrian safety or experience), and even though my points were heard, nothing would change.

But TFL listened in the past (sometimes)

Over ten years ago, I informed TFL that at the beginning of Swinton Street (Eastern End) and Kings Cross Road, there was no traffic light crossing, making this spot on the fast running busy road very dangerous. After an accident, TFL finally decided to agree with me and be sensible and construct a traffic light there.


Acton Street – Kings Cross  Road

It is however only a push button operated traffic light, but still (see later for more on this point).

I had similar success even earlier with a change and improvements to the zebra crossings and lights on both sides of Acton Street

TFL improved this zebra crossing design on both ends, including the lights, because traffic frequently ignored it.

The crossing over at Pentonville Road and Rodney Street and Penton Rise was also a recent change, with some improvements (better, though not completely foolproof for cyclists). It required, however, more than my letters, but the needless death of Madeleine Rosie Wright, a female cyclist, who crashed with a lorry for that improvement to occur. Kings Cross Road – York Way junction was also redesigned, following the ferocious and spectacular crushing death of the St. Martins Art student Deep Lee.

So evidently TFL is not completely deaf to requests from well-informed locals, who know the streets best, though TFL seems to be more willing to listen and more in a hurry once the violent death of somebody confirms system flaunts. Sometimes the changes are however lacklustre, and they were so particularly under Boris Johnson’s mayoral regime. For example, the crossings at Swinton Street and Kings Cross Road (to Travelodge Hotel) are push-button only operated, even though traffic is always stopping at the junction between Penton Rise, Kings Cross Road. Pedestrian traffic lights at Swinton Street could be easy with these without holding up too many cars unnecessarily. One other simple change we are yet to see, and that was announced to be tested, is a 20 Miles Speed limit trial. So far this has only be implemented on the most Southern part of Kings Cross, leaving fast running one-way streets of Pentonville Road, Kings Cross Road and Swinton Street as racing tracks and potential death traps when the roads are emptier.

The many consultations are a testimony to TFL knowing that it has to act. Bit sometimes consultations can also be used to delay things, already known. One would hope for a rather sooner than later progression from the consultation stage to actual construction. This is particularly so, as I remember the very first consultation on Kings Cross traffic and the gyratory that I witnessed being around early 2000. 18 years have passed since, and the wait appears to be longer still, in spite of assurances. That is nearly two decades ago. Having to wait that long, is already too long.


(1) Weston Rise – Pentonville Road Crossing
50 meters or so westwards, a deviation for most who will try to catch any of

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 00.01.25

the buses somewhat Eastwards up the hill (Penton Rise Stop for 73, 214, 205, 30 -which until this day also has no LED display to show waiting times, another TFL initiative not sourced for Kings Cross here, and not only). Not only makes the crossing the way to the bus longer by some 150 meters,
but it also requires pedestrians to wait for over two phases (one for each side of the road), because each side is separately activated. So to get there you would have to walk some 40 meters Westwards. Then push the button. Then one must wait some 2 minutes or longer, then one walks across to the middle. Here one presses the next light. Another long wait. Then after crossing that stretch walk about 70 meter hill upwards to the bus stop, which can take sometimes five minutes extra. Trying to rush over Pentonville Road not using this crossing can take 20 seconds or your life. Not considering the later, the great majority of pedestrians crossing this dangerous road without using the traffic lights. Therefore the light is a). in the false place (pedestrians coming up from Kings Cross Road via Weston Street to attend to bus-stop Eastwards going Penton Rise Station ), b) and also takes ages to cross if used, due to a 2x need of pressing for each side of the street separately.
A crossing 250 meter up at Rodney Street – Pentonville Road – Penton Rise allows crossing in one go, and the traffic light is phased in a faster cycle after being triggered. The reason? It is cars that are waiting in Rodney Street, not pedestrians. Cars there trigger a movement sensitive traffic light and the wait is relatively short. Pedestrians likewise do not have to wait as long as at Weston Rise. It would be easy to connect those two traffic lights.


All I was asking to start with is moving the lights slightly Westly to go in line with Weston Rise, and if possible to get the phasing in line with Rodney Street – Pentonville Road. It required no big change, but a little bit shifting and logical linking up. This, in spite of clear intentions, at least in words, to wish to improve pedestrian experience in the area (or say safety).
On the other hand, waiting times and the two-phase system is similar to the junction between Kings Cross Road and Pentonville Road, further down. Here again, there are frequent pedestrian runs over the street during the red phase, because the waiting time for pedestrians is so long.
The pedestrian crossing at Caledonian Road with Pentonville Road may be the worst of all, and it is much worsened by the building works going on there. There is a huge need for a crossing on the Eastern flank of that junction.
And there is more. Pancras Road has become a new danger spot. In spite of being in front of the international station.
This entry was posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, Gyratory consultation 2016, Kings Cross Station Refurbishment, New and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Wait continues for Changes to the Kings Cross Gyratory

  1. Pingback: Sadiq, just as Boris, keeps prioritising ” smoothing traffic flow” | Vision Zero London

  2. Thank you for writing this update, which is deeply depressing and saddening.
    The work done in the last ten years of consultations seems to have been completely in vain.

    It is proposed to disband and dissolve Living Streets King’s Cross Local Group at the end of the month. From 1 January 2018 contact Living Streets London.


    I’m afraid I don’t think this is a “brace yourself for delays” situation as Daniel has concluded. It’s more concerning.

    I now think that TfL is trying to step-back altogether from the commitment to redesign the gyratory to primarily reintroduce 2-way traffic.

    There are two reasons I believe this. Firstly, the Cally Ward Councillors have now had a briefing from Cllr Webbe and her officers which, although not completely definitive, has worried me intensely. And I’ve read Nigel Hardy’s words closely and it reinforces my view.

    (1) “our planned transformation needs careful coordination with a number of other significant schemes, including HS2”

    What this means: I am told that HS2 requires lane closures on Euston Rd and, although that’s a TfL road, this is mandated by powers in the HS2 Act. Seems TfL has decided that, combined with gyratory removal works, this will have too adverse an impact on traffic flows.

    (2) “We continue to work closely with Camden and Islington Councils on our plans to promote healthy streets and make improvements for vulnerable road users at King’s Cross.”

    What this means: although the phrase “healthy streets” is not capitalised, that’s the name of TfL’s “Approach” to highways improvement. By and large it’s a very good thing. But I think it represents something less than a fundamental redesign or removal of the KX gyratory. See here:…/planning-for-the-future/healthy-streets

    There’s certainly going to be a further consultation on the KX Gyratory. But that isn’t going to be about the “preferred” final option for comprehensive gyratory removal. Instead I think we’ll be offered a palette of improvements to public realm, more pedestrian crossings, and installing dedicated cycle routes. But I fear this won’t be the full-scale removal of 1-way roads so it won’t take away the circulating traffic from Wharfdale Rd, Swinton or Acton Streets.

    However, it seems to me there’s a lot to play for still. Firstly, this is a bureaucrats’ plan. It’s what TfL institutionally has decided. And that position could be changed if the Boroughs and public opnion presses for it. Secondly, as a fallback, it seems to me the Healthy Streets Approach does call for fundamental improvements in the street environment. It says streets should be “pleasant, safe and attractive, where noise, air pollution, accessibility and lack of seating and shelter are not barriers that prevent people -particularly our most vulnerable people – from getting out and about.” It sets quite a high bar on public realm, clean air, noise and safety.

    The ambition to restore 2 way traffic movement (as a means to achieving something like “Healthy Streets”) is a good one and I’ve backed this for a decade+. But if it’s just too complicated to deliver, then we need to hold TfL’s feet to the fire on redesigning the KX streets to meet the Healthy Streets criteria.

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