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:

Replies

I can't see any reason why LCC would want to support this scheme. There's no 'space for cycling' here. The proposed elements of 'cycle infrastructure' are no-where near the quality that LCC's own policies demand.

The so-called 'semi-segregated' lanes on Gower St are 1.5m wide including segregation. Effective semi-segregation, providing real separation from traffic,even with armadillos, takes up 30-40cm. So the usable width of these lanes will be 1.1 to 1.2m - no-where near the minimum 2m needed for bikes to pass each other, essential on a route this busy (or for comfortable use of cargo bikes, handcycles, mobility scooters, family bikes..). The lanes also run out well before all junctions, (the points where protection is really essential) leaving cyclists exposed to heavy vehicle traffic, and left hook collisions. 

On Tottenham Court Rd, people on bikes will be expected to share the road with up to 100 buses/hour in each direction, plus local traffic and delivery traffic. The road will be opened to all traffic before 8am and after 7pm. 

There's nothing here that will make the kind of space for cycling that's suitable for the elderly, for families with children, for less able cyclists.

The scheme isn't even good for pedestrians. It does almost nothing to reduce motor traffic, and instead routes more buses through the highest density of pedestrians. As on Oxford St, this will result in high rates of injury and death.  

LCC should reject the scheme outright, and campaign for one of the many better options that have been considered. 

  • By Frood42 at 9:23am 13 June 2014

As it stands, I see no reason for the LCC to support this project in any way, it does not go nowhere near enough to providing a safe and comfortable atmosphere to both pedestrians and cyclists.

I for one do not enjoy being used as a traffic calming measure and I would expect to have enough space to pass another person on a bike safely.

Yet again motor traffic and taxis seem to be getting priority here.

A few green spaces is not enough to fool people and without more aggressive plans to calm or remove motor traffic the area will become nothing more than a pass through for crossrail, where you see shops catering to the morning and afternoon rush, and then at the weekend becomes a ghost street. It should be looking to become a destination, an area to be able to stop, look around and enjoy, which will benefit business much more than lumbering traffic.

I tend to avoid Tottenham Court Road and Oxford street either as a cyclist or as a pedestrian as I just find them too univiting, despite the many nice drinking, eating and shopping establishments.

Sad really that narrow mindness about slowing down or removing motor traffic will make this a non-destination for so many.

.

  • By liz545 at 9:38am 13 June 2014

I work on Gower Street, and I find these plans underwhelming, to say the least. It's disingenous to say that Tottenham Court Road will be closed to traffic, when it will still be open to buses, taxis, loading/unloading and local access, and open to all traffic after 8pm. Frankly, that's no different to how it is today. If the road is not wide enough at the Oxford Street end to provide decent segregation, why not have on-road lanes for that short stretch which become segregated lanes where the road widens?

I don't think the armadillos will provide sufficient protection between motor traffic and cyclists on Gower Street, and given the area's importance to the university and connection to the Tavistock Place route, improving conditions for cycling here are vital.

Camden are very proud of the work they've done on Royal College Street, but the same treatment for roads with higher traffic volumes just aren't going to be sufficient. Brian Deegan has commented that he personally wouldn't want to be 'stuck' in concrete kerbed lanes, which suggests an institutional reluctance on Camden's part to consider harder segregation, even where it's clearly appropriate. I would urge LCC to look at the plans in depth and draw up an alternative proposal for Camden as these really aren't going far enough.

 

Mixing 30mph buses with 10mph bicycles exposes people cycling to fatal risk. If there is not enough room for cycleways then there isn't room to overtake safely. And using the cycling public as human speedbumps is recklessly negligent surely? While reducing the height of or eliminating kerbs invites vehicles to mount the footway and mow down pedestrians too. Tell them to go away and...plan it Dutch CROW standard properly!

In that vein, can the renderings be altered to show the real width of the street, crowds of pedestrians, cyclists, and the hundreds of buses, taxis, delivery vehicles and access traffic, please?

This post was edited by mikeybikey at 11:21am 13 June 2014.

As David Hembrow has noted, Holland used Armadillos in it's very first segregated schemes, 30-40 years ago. But they were 2ft high concrete armadillos! And they have moved miles on from that since. The armadillos on Royal College Street are sheltered by a row of parked cars and are still in poor condition after 6 months.

At the very least a slip-formed concrete rollover kerb (as on A-roads) could be installed along there for a reasonable cost. Or a continuous rubber strip. Segregation means segregation - 'light' segregation is no segregation at all.

I'm disappointed with LCC for acclaiming schemes like this. Not what we all demonstated for.

Anyone who officially endorses the present plans should be expelled from the London Cycling Campaign. 

Sharing TCR between buses and bicycles without protection for the latter is totally against the principles adopted at the last AGM.

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