Will Camden West End £26million street project deliver protected space for cycling?

Camden Council has launched a consultation on controversial plans to take out the one-way traffic system on Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street.

Cyclists and pedestrians have welcomed the idea of improving the horror that Crossrail works have created in the Tottenham Court Road area (although the plans have attracted negative comments from taxi drivers and freight operators). But many are asking if the plans go far enough to create highly quality conditions for walking and cycling?

Update 21st June

Camden Cyclists are holding a public meeting for cyclists to discuss this project. On 30th June 7pm - 9pm at the YMCA Indian Student Hostel, 41 Fitzroy Square, London, W1T 6AQ.

The Cyclists in the City blog has also commented on Camden's plans.

The Camden plan will:

  • Open up a plaza for the 40-50,000 pedestrians expected to use the new Crossrail and tube station outside Centrepoint
  • Allow only buses and cycles along the length of Tottenham Court Road
  • Have two-way motor traffic with semi-segregated cycle lanes on Gower Street
  • Create new parks and green spaces, particularly around Princes Circus at the top of Shaftesbury ave.

Tottenham Court Road is too narrow to have two way bus traffic and protected lanes for cycles so the plans propose to have wide 4.5 metre bus lanes for both cycles and buses. Unlike Oxford street there will not be centre dividers causing squeeze points. At several points motor traffic coming from side streets will join the buses and cycles, particularly between Torrington Place and Howland street.

Could it be better for cycling?

There are alternatives which some people believe offer far more for cycling.  Camden's website shows critiques of alternate proposals, including having one-way operation with protected cycle lanes on the 'wrong' side of the road. The most attractive option would be to remove all but cyclists and pedestrians from one of the roads. Camden have rejected that on grounds that motor traffic would be forced onto other roads which they claim would cause large delays.

The plan to restrict through motor traffic only from 8am to 7pm has had most criticism. Cyclists want 24 hour operation while freight operators want full time delivery access to the few businesses that cannot be reached via back streets.

The proposed cycle lanes on Gower St will only be semi-segregated and at 1.5 metres wide will not allow easy overtaking of other riders.

London Cycling Campaign is doing a full analysis of these proposals to see if they genuinely create high quality space for cycling.

Tell us what you think

The consultation is open until 18th July. London Cycling Campaign is studying all the details of the plans and options before publishing our response. Use the comment space below to tell us what you think.

Here Camden present their transformation plans: