Old Street plans don't deliver for cycling and walking, say LCC

Old Street

Transport for London's consultation on Old Street roundabout closes this weekend - but LCC is concerned that plans don't do enough for cyclists or pedestrians. 

Old Street roundabout in east London should be a London landmark with a distinct sense of place, which offers safe and inviting space for cycling and walking. Currently, it's an inhospitable environment for cycling and walking. Between February 2010 and January 2013, there were 44 collisions in the vicinity of the roundabout which resulted in injury to people. More than 80 per cent of these involved a pedestrian or cyclist. Despite the inhospitable environment Old Street junction is one of the busiest for cycling in London, with cyclists making up almost a third of all vehicles at Old Street roundabout in the morning rush hour. So we certainly welcome ambitions to make it safer for cycling.

But LCC has concerns that the current proposals are not safe enough and will not offer the safe and inviting space for cycling that this location should offer. We are concerned that motor traffic capacity is being prioritised over walking and cycling, and income generation at the cost of pedestrians and cyclists.

We strongly recommend that the roundabout is replaced with crossroads, with more space for cycling reallocated from the road, not the footway. Crossroads would make it a much simpler layout and make it easier to provide protected space and improve the area for pedestrians and cyclists.

We have a number of specific concerns with the proposals as they are, which we've included in our response to the consultation, which has been developed with our local LCC groups in Hackney and Islington, and with our Infrastructure Review Group. Our main concerns are:

  • The current motor traffic flows at this location are unacceptably high, making the location an unpleasant environment for walking and cycling. The current proposals make no attempt to reduce motor traffic on the Inner Ring Road, or to make deliveries or services more efficient. 
  • Cycling provision in the proposals will not accommodate the current cycling flows, let alone future. Cyclists currently make up almost a third of all vehicles at Old Street roundabout in the morning rush hour, and this will grow, particularly as the area will link the Central London Grid and Cycle Superhighway 1. Cycle tracks which don't offer sufficient capacity for cycle flows will force cyclists onto the busy carriageway - a daunting prospect for the majority of cyclists.
  • The proposed layout would close the junction’s north-western arm to traffic other than walking. This means that in order to turn left from Old Street west to City Road north, and vice versa from City Road north to Old Street west, cyclists would have to go around three sides of a square. We understand that in the original proposals a cycle track was planned across the ‘closed’ side, but this has been scrapped. We have serious concerns that due to the level of deviation required, people would still attempt to cycle across what would be a very busy pedestrian space. 
  • The proposals are also bad news for pedestrians: they'd mean a reduction in pedestrian space, potentially leading to people choosing to walk on the cycle lanes because the pavements would be so narrow. The absence of pedestrian crossing on the east side of the junction will also drive pedestrians to cross using the cycle lane across the road or make other risky crossing choices. The relocation of bus stops will also inconvenience the numerous bus users wishing to access Old Street station. 

We're therefore making the recommendation is that the junction is returned to a normal four-way junction between two streets, re-allocating carriageway space to provide sufficient protected space for inclusive cycling both now and in the future. We'd also like to see all cycle movements enabled - the current plans block access from west on Old St to southbound on City Rd - and connectivity taken into account, including links to Cycle Superhighway 1.  

You can respond to the consultation until Sunday 11 January. 

Read LCC's response to the consultation.