Monday, 17 March 2014

Kings Cross can be cycle friendly

Download link in PDF file format can be found here.

Following how well received my amended version of the Elephant and Castle consultation was, I decided that I should give another TFL consultation the cycle infrastructure it deserves. Kings Cross seemed an obvious choice, because TFL had said that cycle tracks had been ruled out due to space constraints. The original consultation is below:

There are some improvements to the current situation. For example, a widened cycle lane, the addition of ASLs in some places, and a tiny bit of segregation. But while these are improvements, these will only improve conditions for vehicular cyclists, and will not attract new cyclists. This scheme is a step in the right direction, but only just, and comes at a time when London is going to need to take huge leaps forward if we want to become a true cycling city.

Therefore in my version, I wanted to be able to add cycle tracks where possible. And this was possible in most places.

Space for Cycling

TFL had rejected the idea of putting a segregated track down Pentonville Road due to losing a vehicle lane being unacceptable. This made me really want to be able to add segregation along here without losing a vehicle lane, to prove to TFL that there is space. The space for the cycle track was created from the existing cycle lane (widened in the TFL original consultation), the hatched out space between the loading bays and the road, and a small amount of existing pavement. At first I was hesitant about removing any pavement, however I think the cycle track increases the amount of usable pavement, since walking next to a cycle track is pleasant, whereas walking directly next to a main road is not.

(Kings) Crossings

Junctions are the most vital part of any cycle infrastructure. A single bad junction could put someone off cycling for their whole journey, so safe crossings are vital. The most straight forward crossing is the one at the top of the picture below. Two cycle specific crossings are provided, which allow cyclists to cross parallel to the adjacent traffic lanes. Personally I don't like how the tracks cross at the top left corner, as it doesn't allow much space for cyclists to wait for the crossings. However, in the limited space, I felt this is the best I could do.
I went for two separate crossings at the Southern end of Kings Cross Bridge for two reasons. One, providing one cycle crossing would require joining up the two tracks round the corner. This would inconvenience pedestrians and potentially make the corner too tight for vehicles. Secondly, few cyclists will need to go round this corner, since the layout of the junction means that this turn would not be made unless cyclists were accessing a place on Grays Inn Road. Therefore I chose the dual crossing design, as odd as it looks.

Safe turns

It was relatively easy to provide safe crossings here. A traffic lane can be removed after the junction with Kings Cross Road because there is no creation of a bottleneck. Therefore no extra queues should be created. The right turn bay bay has been removed also, since not much traffic needs to make the right turn. The cycle track along Pentonville road passes the side road with priority, and also with space for traffic to turn before giving way to cyclists, increasing cyclist visibility. I have also created a waiting area for cyclists to cross to reach the track on Kings Cross road, via a dedicated crossing.

To conclude

Again, TFL have produced small improvements for existing cyclists, but their design will attract no new cyclists. Only complete segregation on main roads will attract new cyclists, not bits and pieces of unconnected cycle lanes and Advance Stop Lines. TFL is still learning, and I still think in terms of UK cycling, they are relatively progressive. Expect more amended consultation diagrams from me in the future, and I look forward to advancing my skills forward.

Update 30/07/2014

TFL have sent out an e-mail to those who responded to the consultation saying this:

Dear stakeholder
 Thank you for taking the time and providing us with your views on our proposals to improve safety in King’s Cross for cyclists. After carefully considering all of the feedback received, we have made the decision to proceed with the proposals.  Please view our consultation and engagement portal to view a copy of our engagement report. Following comments received about the provision of a segregated cycle lane on York Way, we have revised our plans.  We are now proposing to introduce a semi-segregated cycle lane which will allow cyclists to move onto the main carriageway and overtake stationary buses and taxis if necessary. Construction of the scheme is expected to start in October 2014 and last for approximately six months. Please feel free to email the TfL Customer Services Team via the web form on our website if you wish to discuss plans or our decision in further detail.
 Yours sincerely Claire AlleguenConsultation SpecialistTransport for London

So we are getting some shit, but with some semi segregation so we can overtake buses and taxis who enter it. Wonderful.


  1. Nice job with this. And I doubly agree with "Only complete segregation on main roads will attract new cyclists, not bits and pieces of unconnected cycle lanes and Advance Stop Lines." I cycle to/from work in central London every day and ASLs are half the time not respected by drivers.

    The thing that makes me the most angry is when they throw up all this propaganda about creating a 'cycling city' but it really isn't. It's just sticking plaster stuff.

  2. Looks good. It's very easy to criticise and reject TfL's plans, but these sort of plans really give something to push for, not against.

    The details of crossings and junctions aren't particularly important, what counts more is that a network of high quality and continuous safe space for cycling is there. Details can be changed later.

    That said a minor improvement could be made! The westbound cycle lane on Gray's Inn Road should turn north to meet up with the cycle lane on King's Cross Bridge. This means you only need one crossing for cycling across the KCB/GIR junction.

  3. Another excellent effort. One comment though: you have taken out one traffic lane on Grays Inn Rd to make space for a 2-way cycle lane. You would expect that to attract opposition from TfL due to traffic-smoothing considerations. The current layout, which I believe is considered by many to have contributed to the death of Min-Joo Lee, has two lanes at the junction with Euston/Pentonville Roads, where traffic crosses to York Way. There is however only one northbound lane on York Way so traffic going ahead here (right turns into Pentonville Rd are prohibited) has to merge into a single lane in a matter of yards, and this foster dangerous behaviour.

    So, to the point, your drawing show two lanes heading to York Way and one to Euston Rd, which remains 2-lane eastbound. I suggest you should draw it as one lane going north to York Way, and two lanes going west to Euston Rd. TfL would lose a traffic lane, but in a good way, because they really should not have two lanes at this point anyway for safety reasons.

  4. Great work and good to see some positive plans rather than just poking holes.

    Having said that, I would like to poke some holes.

    Firstly, taking space from the pavement on Pentonville Road is a no-no. This is already rammed to bursting at the best of times, and the usable area is currently expanded by people walking on the advisory cycle lane that exists. I think you'd be better off removing the loading bays from the southside and shifting the road over.

    Secondly, there's a great reliance on two-way cycle paths here. This works for some of the elements, where it is one-way for motors (e.g. York Way / Grays Inn, which is the alleged route of the N-S "superhighway") but is harder to see how this works for the two-way sections of Euston Road and Pentonville Road. How are cycles supposed to get there? How do they exit them?

    Also, I agree with Paul M, above that the pointless two-way stacking into York Way (a single laned road) is the obvious fat to be cut here. Potentially a deliberate one so that TfL can take it out later and look like they're listening.

    1. Don't feel like you shouldn't pick holes, the more holes you pick, the better my next designs can be!

      From Streetview York Way looked like two lanes to me, which is why I kept the stacking. Definately if I did this again it would be 1 lane only.

    2. The pedestrians are likely to be able to be less dense if the traffic light sequencing allows for pedestrians to not be bunching up. Also some of them probably will be cycling.

  5. Hiya, what happens further south on Gray's Inn Road? Ie how do cyclists get on onto the right hand side of the road fron say further south on gray's inn or from swinton street?


  6. Fantastic stuff!

    I concur with Wheels on the Bike, it's very easy to criticise and make many minor changes to TfL's plans which effectively put lipstick on a pig; but it takes clarity of vision to dispense their halfbaked ideas and come up with something workable. Your design does that and I hope TfL listen.

    PS Can I send you my Local Authorities pigs? ;)

    1. Feel free, if they are in PDF format they will work with the software I am using to make these.

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  8. Hi, wondered what software you use? We're asking people to help redesign the whole gyratory system and I've tried to find software that would enable a collaborative effort... Thanks!

  9. Hello,

    Sorry I missed this before now.

    I spent quite a lot of time at this junction, just seeing what the traffic does. Regarding a north-south route from Gray's Inn Road up Caledonian Road / York Way, I think Wheels on the Bike is right to say you only need one crossing. My preference is Caledonian Road, and then join up with York Way north of the A501 (e.g. via Caledonia Street).

    I think your proposed treatment of King's Cross Bridge / Caledonian Road is spot-on (i.e. a two-way cycle track on the west side of the road). But is there a better solution for Gray's Inn Road? Perhaps cycle tracks on both sides of the road would work better? If you agree, I wonder if you would be kind enough to do your magic and send the design to Kings Cross Environment?

    As for the east-west route, it must be remembered that there is a jolly good parallel route available. Also, for your proposed treatment to work, it would need to go the length of the Euston / Marylebone Road. Given that this road is / was not part of the LCN / LCN+ / CSH, it is highly likely that developing this route for non-vehicular cyclists would take many, many years.

    Finally, I don't believe there is any particular strategic value to a cycle route which uses King's Cross Road. (Where have you come from, and where are you going to?) This said, I do recognise that there is a tremendous benefit to be had locally if this road could be made more pedestrian-friendly.

    Hope you find the above feedback useful.

    Regards, Simon