Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Vigil at King's Cross

A vigil was held to remember road accident victims in King's Cross tonight. Living Streets Islington campaigner, Caroline Russell, said that the deaths on bicycles at the adjacent site - in front of the Lighthouse building on King's Cross Square in the town centre - ranged from Leslie Michaelson fourteen years ago to the recent death of Min Joo Lee. She said there had been sixteen cyclists killed and over sixty pedestrians killed this year in London - the situation is unacceptable. She implored the community to consult with and work with Transport for London.

A costly TfL "Crossing Removal Progamme", another campaigner noted, would help keep motor traffic moving, at the expense of pedestrian safety.

The group londonersonbikes.org.uk notes that transport is one thing the Mayor of London really does control, and suggests that Londoners "vote with their bikes" at elections on 3 May 2012. Will this help save King's Cross' town centre?






Tuesday, 13 December 2011

King's Cross Town Centre and "Friends of the (former) KX Gyratory"

The Mayor of London, responding through TfL Officers, says the 2008 Living Streets report was 'superseded' by the 2009 Buchanan consultants' report (which uses older, more favourable data for 36 months to December 2007 - prior to the opening of St Pancras station and the Northern Ticket Hall) and that TfL's current 'Junction improvements' scheme is based on a 30% increase in footfall for the Olympics (which, with changes at London Underground Northern Ticket Hall and the Stations since 2007, must have occurred long ago).

The Mayor has no plans to improve the gyratory, and there is a Mayoral election approaching. A Kings Cross Neighbourhood Forum formed under the new Localism Act (Nov 2011) could direct local changes next year.

King’s Cross Junction (2)
Question No: 3268 / 2011
Caroline Pidgeon
Three years ago a report titled ‘The TfL PERS and CSA 07/08 Category A Station Audits King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations Final Report’ included a clear recommendation that TfL should “reduce traffic speeds around the [Euston Road/Gray’s Inn Road/Pentonville Road/York Way] junction” in order to improve safety. Can you explain the reasons why you discarded the advice that was presented to you, and what factors you took into account when choosing to do so?
Written response from the Mayor
Officers are drafting a response which will be sent shortly.
Written answer provided on 9 December 2011:
The report contained a number of short–term actions, including re-freshing road markings and repairing defects. Most of these were acted upon immediately after publication. The report also contained a number of longer-term aspirations and issues requiring more in-depth investigation.
In May 2009, TfL published the ‘King’s Cross Traffic and Pedestrian Study’, which set out TfL’s response to the longer-term issues raised. It included high-level proposals for a number of initiatives to improve the King’s Cross environment, which were subsequently translated into preliminary designs that could be discussed with stakeholders and implemented.
TfL began consultation on three schemes to provide pedestrian and cyclist improvements at three key junctions in May this year and will begin construction of these during December 2011.
King’s Cross Junction (4)
Question No: 3270 / 2011
Caroline Pidgeon
Further to MQ (1875/2011), you said that one-way systems where there is “evidence of poor performance, particularly in terms of safety” and where there is “a strong local consensus for change” are prioritised for removal. You added that schemes to remove gyratories must be feasible in engineering terms and those that have funding from external sources such as redevelopment schemes are prioritised. Do you think the King’s Cross gyratory system is performing well, particularly in terms of safety? If not, what steps will you take to ensure the removal of this gyratory system, in line with your policy?
Written response from the Mayor
Officers are drafting a response which will be sent shortly.
Written answer provided on 9 December 2011:
TfL is implementing schemes to improve road conditions at three key junctions in Kings Cross. These are:
  • At Euston Road/Pancras Road, extending the footway and installing new tactile paving on both sides of the road. Extending the pedestrian island on Euston Road to make it easier for pedestrians to cross. (Advanced stop lines (ASLs) are present in the existing layout). This element of the scheme is designed to accommodate a 30 per cent predicted increase in pedestrian footfall over this junction during the Games.
  • At Euston Road/York Way, extending the footway on the western side. Installing new Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists and tactile paving and changes to the signal control to a left ahead and two straight ahead movements at Euston Rd EB.
  • At Pentonville Road at its junction with Kings Cross Bridge and Caledonian Road, installing new tactile paving on either side of Pentonville Road and widening two existing pedestrian crossings on Caledonian Road and Kings Cross Bridge to accommodate a greater number of pedestrians. Provision of new Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists on Caledonian Road.
In general I support the removal of gyratories, wherever feasible, and where funding can be made available. The gyratory is complex and at a key location on the Transport for London Road Network. TfL does not currently believe that it is feasible to remove it. The very significant levels of funding that would be required to undertake such a task is also not available. However, all key junctions, such as this one, are kept under constant review.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Islington KX and Euston Circus Update

On Wednesday 8 December I presented for Living Streets King's Cross at Living Streets Islington's branch meeting, at Islington Town Hall. My short presentation joined two others on removing gyratories at Archway and Highbury Corner. Although it is widely accepted that the replacement of gyratory systems with more liveable, walkable streets is very good for neighbourhoods, for economic vitality of local areas and streets, for environmental and air quality, much work is needed to promote these regeneration schemes beyond cosmetic changes, especially given the disenfranchisement of those who work and live on the existing gyratories.

Now that Islington borough has 20MPH streets, we can follow the initiative in King's Cross, including the Mayor/TfL controlled 'red routes' as a next step. The CNJ story about reclaiming the Olympic Lanes as cycle lanes in King's Cross had been noticed in Islington.

Formation of a 'Friends of the (former) King's Cross Gyratory' group was jokingly discussed as a way of balancing the burgeoning Friends of Regent's Canal group. Afterwards, excellent (home-made) festive season delicacies were enjoyed with drinks.

Euston Circus
Our group was asked (via Camden Streets and TfL Programme Planner, Joanne Elmer*) to comment at Palestra on TfL proposals for Euston Circus (replacing Design for London's scheme). Propoerty Developers British Land have commissioned Hyder and McAslan to design improvements on the bridge over Euston Road cutting and pavement widening and planting is proposed as part of the s106 planning gain agreement. An anticipated 2000 additional pedestrian movements from Warren Street Station to the development on the north-western corner is the design basis, and LEGION traffic modelling was used. It is unclear whether overall vehicle movements would be reduced with fewer vehicle lanes and given future the two-way Tottenham Court Road. Future southbound contraflow bus lane passengers on the footways were not yet taken into account.

The 'smoothing traffic' agenda at TfL was discussed as "increasing vehicle journey time reliability".

York Stone and asphalt surface treatments, seating options and Liquidambar plantings were discussed, particularly adjoining the UCL hospital corner cafe curtilage. There will be green walls cladding the reverse of the new advertising billboards. Will anyone want to sit there on the bridge?

TfL Programme Planner Joanne Elmer told me that Camden's public realm design team (Sam Monck, Simon Piper et al) will meet monthly with Transport for London designers and the consultants to refine the design. Following detailed design in March, construction is planned to begin in October 2012.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Kings Cross Town Centre

Plans (or more accurately, a lack of effective public realm planning) for Kings Cross Town Centre and Kings Cross Square were discussed last night with Camden Councillor Paul Braithwaite and chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon.

King's Cross Forum member Hugh Lake pointed out the lack of coordination and ineffectiveness of Camden's Placeshaping Strategy for the area, which ignored aspects of transport and development south of the square. The GLA Transport Committee chair admitted in the meeting that the Mayor and Transport for London were not tackling the area adequately, nor were Boroughs.

It was noted that the TfL plans for cosmetic junction improvements (due for completion next year) were based on a report (Buchanan consultants) using data which predates the reopening of St Pancras International Station in 2007 (see pages 14-26).


Following the meeting, London Assembly Transport Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon received confirmation in a response - which she had to use the Freedom of Information Act to get! - that two of the crossings do not meet national minimum standards on safety. (Already clear from the 2008 report) They are unsafe and don't provide enough time for pedestrians to cross. This crossing time is further diminished by vehicles running red lights.

Caroline Pidgeon is also urgently seeking input into the TfL review of the junctions that is taking place behind closed doors, and wants, as a bare minimum, for them to use up-to-date info on the number of pedestrians using the junctions and, even better, to actually listen to the pedestrians and cyclists using the junctions.

Lee Baker today put a short article on Lib Dem's website about their walkabout and their mayoral candidate's campaign " Why not transform Euston Road into a boulevard that is a pleasure to walk along and across?" (Referring to the 100 Great Spaces 2009) Mayors make great promises in campaigns; the current mayor has brought blue cycle lanes and hire bikes, but neglected the previous Mayor's and Design for London's plans for Euston Road.

Background paper (no date) on King's Cross 'place shaping' from RUDI