Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Pedestrian Conditions

The campaign for permeability through King's Cross station was addressed in Will Perrin's interviews with Gavron and Boff - the former optimistic, the latter reticent about the Mayor's role.

King's Cross Walkability Audit 2008 is publicly available thanks to FOI, but was not noted by Camden officers in the Placeshaping plan: November Report on October Workshops (doc).

(Consultation Draft 8 October 10)

Icy Weather - Despite a review, advice on making pavements safer, and Living Streets' The Ice Factor campaign, heavily used public footways like King's Cross Station Forecourt near Bus Stop D, managed by Transport for London, are not being kept free of ice and snow.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

King's Cross Gyratory options

King's Cross 'traffic gyratory system' is a legacy of the 'regional ring roads' traffic system of the 1960s. Like the town of Ashford has calmed part of its ring road, there are parts of central London's 'ring roads' which will also evolve in the 21st century.

For discussion purposes, we came up with three very broad diagrammatic ideas to improve the liveability of streets on the King's Cross gyratory system:

1. Making the ground level streets habitable for walking, shopping, markets etc., by putting all the heavy vehicular traffic underground; between the canal, Penton Square and the Town Hall, possibly limiting the height and carbon emissions of vehicles in the tunnels, and hiding escape stairs/ventilation behind buildings or feeding those into the existing London Underground tunnel network.

2. Pedestrianising the area completely except for handcart access for goods deliveries from parking in King's Cross Central, and diverting all motorised through-traffic away from the area.

3. Create 'shared' spaces in public streets along the arteries, with movement limited to a single lane at 5mph with some controlled crossings for vulnerable people. This will naturally divert some of the heavy goods traffic and make more space for civilised pedestrian street activity around the stations, making spaces more worthy of King's Cross' national and international pedestrian patronage.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Motion: Living Streets in King's Cross

Hello fellow Living Streets King's Cross members

If you live or work near York Way, you may have received a consultation recently from LB Camden, on proposals for traffic/pedestrian improvements to York Way. The consultation area was tiny, and the consultation asks which of two almost identical options you'd like.

This consultation and some of the strength of feeling shown on the King's Cross Environment website (see comments here: suggests this is an opportunity for us as a group to press the council to rethink the whole King's Cross gyratory system.

With Clare Hill's help I've worded the group's motion as follows:

"Living Streets King's Cross group wants a wider, more thorough consultation and urges a redesign of the Kings Cross Gyratory System must be undertaken to make York Way, Wharfedale, Caledonian, Kings Cross Rd and Gray's Inn Road more liveable and pleasant for non-motorised users of the area."

CAN YOU PLEASE SECOND OR AMEND this motion by Friday 22 Oct?

Thanks to those who have already responded!

I will send the response on behalf of the group (23 of us?) to Camden (and Islington and TfL) after Friday.

Gregory Cowan, Chair

The consultation docs are here:

see also our Facebook Group

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Regeneration Walk Sunday 10 October

late morning 10 October: A walk around the urban regeneration area surrounding Kings Cross and St Pancras stations for anyone interested either visiting or local, with urban designer(s) and activist(s) from Living Streets Kings Cross

rsvp map

Friday, 24 September 2010

Sustainable Community and Living Streets

As local volunteer chair, referred by headquarters, I met with Camden Transport Planner Jacqueline Saunders yesterday to introduce Living Streets Kings Cross*. We discussed better working together and proposed to do four things:

1. Group members and 'street users' of Kings Cross might find an elected Champion for Living Streets (such as Cr. Sue Vincent in Camden and a counterpart in Islington) - to lobby and to promote 'safe, attractive, enjoyable streets where people want to walk' - so that the Champion can guide officers on behalf of all 'street users' of Kings Cross.

2. Living Streets Kings Cross Group to give feedback on our issues and areas of interest, as identified to date (pedestrian permeability, safety etc from this blog - see below)

3. To give our group's input and be involved in consultations about streets in the future (Such as the joint Islington-Camden Brecknock Road study coming in November) - and for this to be visible to us, with a committment that our comments will be addressed transparently.

4. To give input to the Camden Local Implementation Plan (LIP) of the Sustainable Community Strategy, and especially Camden's 3 year delivery plans for 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14; and to monitor these.

Would you like to be involved? Please read further and comment.

We discussed the improvement programmes funded under the 2005-2011 plan (LIP), including walking, cycling, 20mph zones, bus priority etc (previously 23 projects). Report pending.

The rather different new plan (LIP) for 2011-2031 which would be funded at about 4 million, a small fraction of the previous budget. The new LIP 2011 would comprise only two programmes;

1. - smarter travel (promoting walking and cycling, awareness, road safety training etc)

2. - corridors and neighbourhoods (traffic calming and street environment schemes etc.)

One of the six identified physical areas for development in Camden, Kings Cross was not yet 'prioritised', but as it was identified in the new Local Development Framework for planning, we would be able to be involved in developing the plan for 2012-13 and 2013-14.

I agreed to review the issues we have previous raised (see below) and to send Jacqueline more information about how Living Streets can assist her department's work with auditing, local community engagement etc., as it has done in the past, as follows:

Issues raised by Living Streets Kings Cross 2008-2010

1. Access through Kings Cross Station (aka Battlebridge) in the medium to long term via Camden Council and Islington Council (Herman T suggests a note is being produced at Islington) Clarifying London borough and national constituency boundaries ie Kings Cross Station not being in Frank Dobson's national constituency (Susanne G) Agreed to raise awareness of the ongoing Battlebridge campaign. (more, esp. page 8) 4 June 2009

2. Twenty's Plenty, the campaign to introduce a general 20mph speed limit on borough roads, provisionally adopted in Islington, we will ask Camden to follow at a Bloomsbury area forum on 1 July (Greg C) and Hantilowes (Suzanne G). 4 June 2009

3. Safety at Night - Walking Audit
Based on the successful work with Nido's Eco-Fair (22 Apr 2009) with Anup P and Sara G, who arranged to hosting the LS meeting at 200 Pentonville Road -Nido, we followed the meeting at 6.30pm with a guided walk and walking audit for local people and students. Living Streets people guided the walk (to Thornhill Bridge and the Regents Canal, via Kings Place, Crinan Street, Railway Street, via Regent Quarter to St Chads Place for a drink) and established a local walk also suitable for future summer school students. Those attending identified lighting issues, pavement widths, percieved security concerns, roads such as the A501 presenting barriers to local walking, but felt the area had potential to develop 'safer more enjoyable streets where people want to walk'. 4 June 2009

Members, please add to this list, or comment!

Greg, chair

(*photo from 2009 as a suitable 'sustainable community' poster in the meeting area was not yet available)
Direct requests for actions for 'safer more enjoyable streets in Kings Cross' (Camden, Islington or Transport for London)

Note: Sophie T. - through KXLE and our Facebook group - has provided a lot of the background and offered to help link with Islington. She has made the 2008 walking audit available as a .pdf too (also at right) and has just written afresh about the gyratory...

Monday, 9 August 2010

King's Cross Business Improvement District (BiD)?

Whether or not it should be in the form of a Business Improvement District (BiD), a local-interest led, and joined-up approach to planning King's Cross is certainly necessary, and it is not happening at the moment. There are dozens of agencies, besides planners at Camden and Islington and the railways, none of which have yet made the station precinct workable for local people.

Improvement groups - like King's Cross Railway Lands Group ( which has worked for years on this, and Create King's Cross ( are intended to represent local people and business.
Would it be worth telephoning Transport for London’s planning officers for our neighbourhood to talk about this state of affairs and to find some ways of moving forward?

TfL Planner for Camden (west of York Way and King's Cross Road)
Alex Andrews, Team Manager (West) Tel: 020 7126 4024
TfL Planner for Islington (east of York Way and King's Cross Road)
Patricia Charleton, Principal Planner Tel: 020 7126 4617


See also a new KXLE post on this by Sophie T

Here is a map of part of the problem identified in King's Cross news:

Do local Campaigners in King's Cross have too much power?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Living Streets

We want to work towards Living Streets in Kings Cross.

We want to make the streets where we live, work, shop and play more safe, attractive and enjoyable spaces.

The Pedestrian Association and Living Streets have been doing this in the UK since early motorised streets in 1929.

We are all pedestrians, and our streets are the one public space we all use, everyday. Living Streets, the national charity, with its supporters, works to create streets that really put people first.

When we have streets we want to walk in, lives are transformed - we are healthier, happier and more sociable.

Here are some actions and tools:

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Get together this Wednesday 23.6 at 5pm

A free Camden 'Love Your Street' bicycle tour will start at the British Library courtyard beside Isaac Newton on 23 June at 5.00pm. We could incorporate a few of Camden Architects Forum's favourite streets - or of those attending! I propose Chalton, Royal College and Camley Streets. Let me know yours. All cyclists (or aspiring cyclists, LCC Camden members or not) are welcome on this slow and easy tour - in advance of the new TfL Cycle Hire scheme launching next month.

See LCC Camden (some great resources there, e.g. about the new link)

Its also British Waterways Bike Week and flyers about that will be available.

I propose to give a brief introduction to each street visited and a little about cycle access. Total about an hour. Allows time for those joining the 6.30pm 'Sky Ride' cycle tour in Kings Cross adjacent to follow on.

Chalton Street - famous as a High Street and Market Street for Somers Town, and Coffee House
Camley Street - Secluded warehouses and the amazing Camley Street Natural Park

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Transition Towns

Last night at The Hub in York Way about twenty people met to discuss forming a Transition network in Kings Cross - something I think Living Streets could be involved with.

A Transition Town Belsize founder introduced the idea and how that group works together.

For King's Cross, several practical ideas were raised and workshopped;
  • Planting and growing food in an estate in Somerstown
  • Air quality improvement on Euston Road and on Taxi ranks
  • More sustainable transport, from buses to bikes and distributed garden storage (eg for BTCV Carbon Army volunteers)
  • A well-being group to keep communications, enthusiasm and group dynamics healthy
  • Anaerobic Digestion plant
  • A local currency
Lets see what happens next...

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Kings Cross Pedestrians

Kings Cross Environment newsletter flew the flag for pedestrian issues in Kings Cross at recently.

In a recent post from Kings Cross Development Forum about Pedestrians in York Way, (an artery which - problematically - also forms the border between Islington and Camden boroughs) the following suggestions were made;

1. Will LB Camden make York Way a friendler place to be a pedestrian? (It is regarded as a TfL trunk route and is widely thought to be used only by Islington residents to the east, as the west side in Camden is currently undeveloped...)
2. Will TfL provide more frequent buses on this important corridor?
3. Will someone (Kings Cross Central developers Argent / LB Camden) do something temporary with the wastelands along York Way while awaiting the property market revival - and some landscaping improvements along York Way?

Collaboration between Camden and the developers seems overly focussed on the controvery around councillor / candidate (Lib Dem) Ralph Scott proposing moving the Town Hall to Kings Cross Central, although not revealing full details...

Another arm of the Lib Dems asked for our views on Living Streets in Camden, in supporting the campaign for 20mph borough roads. I forwarded these few points, which Lee Baker took to Camden's Culture and Environment Scrutiny Committee in November:

1. Based on a walk and informal walking audit on Sunday afternoon the 26 April 2009 commemorating the life of Mary Wollstonecraft, the difficult points were
a) crossing Euston Road
b) pavement width on the west side of the new St Pancras Station and the wheelchair-inaccessible transition and barriers at the north end towards St Pancras Churchyard. Crossing Euston Road at Argyle Street and at York Way was also difficult, especially for wheelchair users and slow walkers. If traffic were slower, this would make the streets more pleasant to use.

2. Based on a night safety walk along the Regents Canal around 7pm on 4 June 2009, the most difficult and unsafe crossings were on York Way at Goods Way and at Wharfedale Road, especially difficult for wheelchair users and slow walkers. If traffic were slower, this would make the streets more pleasant to use.

3. As a cyclist, the traffic lights at Tavistock Street and Marchmont Street junction are difficult and unsafe, (see our blog post of 8 June 2009) and the design of the cycle lanes at Tavistock Street and Judd street are unsafe. I avoid the area by changing to a longer circumnavigatory route. If traffic were slower, this would make the streets more pleasant and somewhat safer to use.

4. As a cyclist and a pedestrian crossing Judd Street near Cromer Street, slower traffic would make crossing or turning safer. It would make the pedestrian crossing at this junction safer. Calmer traffic would also be safer for visually impaired and blind pedestrians near the national headquarters of RNIB.

I heard at the WSRAG Walking and Cycling Advocacy Committee to the Transport Committee the following evening, however, that the comments on 20mph streets at the Scrutiny committee were taken badly by the Transport Committee. Transport engineers regard the 20mph conversion as being dependent upon road engineering standards which Camden will not resource. They were dismissive of local community success in calming traffic in Hampstead, because national engineering standards were not achieved.

There is a danger of our campaigns being 'co-opted' by political parties for the election. As far as views on creating safer, more pleasant streets are shared by group members, it would be helpful to promote these though our own means.