West End Project plans approved by Camden Council

Camden Council’s Cabinet has approved plans to move ahead with the West End Project proposals to transform the Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street area.

Update 1st July 2015 - Taxi Driver Challenge Fails in Court

In short 30 minute before a judge at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday 1st July the legal challenge to Camden Council's plans by the Licenced Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) was rejected.

LTDA was attempting to force a judicial review of the Council's decision to go ahead with the transformation of their part of West End which would exclude taxis from the southern end of Tottenham Court Road.

Also this week Camden have announced a trial of radical changes to the Tavistock Place and Torrington Place cycle routes. Two way motor traffic will be removed from this link to provide space for an additional cycle lane going west while the existing lane will remain for eastbound cyclists.

The direction of motor traffic in Torrington Place will be reversed. There have been concerns in the local community that this road would bring extra traffic onto side roads once the new shceme for Tottenham Court is in place. The trial will determine whether changning the flow will remove this problem and provide more space for cycling.

 

While the detail of the scheme is yet to be finalised, for example on the design of the junctions on Tottenham Court Rd and Gower and Bloomsbury Streets - which could be critical in truly making the area safe and inviting for cycling - LCC welcomes the approval by the Council of the plans. They represent the beginnings of what is necessary to transform the West End area into a modern city centre, for people and businesses, although they still fall short of what LCC believes is necessary to achieve continental levels of safety and comfort for cycling. Further improvements will be needed in future

Rosie Downes, London Cycling Campaign’s Campaigns Manager, said: “Camden Council want to double the amount of trips made by cycle by 2025. If that’s going to happen, the West End must be made safe and inviting for cycling – and that includes Tottenham Court Road, where restriction of motor traffic including taxis will be essential to reduce danger to cyclists and to reduce the fear of collision which puts many people off choosing to cycle in this area. 

“We’d like to see the exclusion of taxis extended later in the evening to prevent Tottenham Court Road becoming a taxi race track just as many workers and students in the area are cycling home or on leisure trips; and while we recognise that the concentration of bus routes on Tottenham Court Road will improve conditions on Gower St and New Oxford St, we have concerns about the number of buses that cyclists will be expected to share road space with on Tottenham Court Road itself. This will have to be an area that is improved in future.

“Overall, though, we welcome Camden Council's aspirations for the West End, their willingness to reallocate carriageway space for walking, cycling, green areas and new public space on Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street, and the reduction of bus flows on New Oxford Street. The new plans represent a genuine step forward, and we will work with Camden Council in future to further improve the area to achieve conditions for cycling that are safe and inviting for people of all ages and abilities.”

London Cycling Campaign is pleased to see that Camden Council have adapted proposals from Camden Cycling Campaign to replace semi-segregated cycle tracks on Bloomsbury and Gower Streets with a stepped track allowing more width. In response to concerns about extra traffic on side streets the Council are proposing a trial to have a cycle track on both sides of Torrington Place and restricting motor traffic to one way operation. That would prevent rat running and, if approved, would meet the LCC Space for Cycling ward ask supported by all the local council members.

However LCC is concerned about the use of loading bays for out of hours deliveries on Gower Street, whilst recognising the importance of enabling efficient delivery and servicing for businesses and residents in the West End area. We welcome plans to minimise the impact of these operations on cyclists and pedestrians – provided the restrictions are strongly enforced. Trials of out of hours deliveries are acceptable only if these operations comply with the existing London Boroughs' Lorry Control Scheme. In practice these trips need to be by registered vehicles on approved routes to ensure extra lorry trips are not made on minor roads in Camden and the adjoining boroughs. Extra trips on minor roads present an avoidable risk to cyclists at any time, day and night.