Camden Council proposes improvements to Belsize roundabout as part of the local cycle route between Primrose Hill and Kilburn (shown in pink on the above map).
The measures proposed include:
- a raised speed table across Fairfax Road
- narrowing of entrance to Fairhazel Gardens
- decrease the width of the road that forms the roundabout, making it narrower all of the way round except on approach to Fairfax Road.
To follow the local route from Loudoun Road to Fairhazel Gardens, one has to leave the roundabout at Belsize Road then turn right to cross the east-bound lane of Belsize Road in order to get to Fairhazel Gardens.
East-bound (i.e. from Fairhazel Gardens to Loudoun Road) cyclists have to take the fourth exit off this roundabout, which can be particularly difficult as most traffic is following the main Belsize/Hilgrove axis.
The Local route CRISP Report June 2008 proposes the following
- Narrow the approach to Fairhazel Gardens.
- Provide deflections in the kerb alignments on the approach to the roundabout (Belsize Road northbound and southbound approaches, excluding Hillgrove Road).
- Provide a raised pedestrian table with a refuge island and illuminated bollards across Fairfax Road.
The consultation document appears to be flawed, as the question asked applies only to the Fairhazel Road speed-table works and ignores the rest altogether.
Our preference would be to remove the roundabout altogether, making Hillgrove Road -Belsize Road the main road with junctions off it. This would be the most effective way to reduce traffic speeds, and would make the whole area much better for pedestrians and cyclists. Roundabouts are always tricky for all but the most experienced cyclists, and we are not aware of any design solutions which can make them better for cyclists. Certainly what is being proposed here will not make much difference.
As to the specific proposals:
- Fairfax Road speedtable: we are in favour of this.
- Narrowing of the Fairhazel Gardens filter lane from Belsize Road: we are not convinced about the benefits of this alteration. The widened island should encourage cyclists to position themselves correctly to make the turn up Fairhazel Gardens and slow down motor traffic leaving the roundabout at that point, but it will also reduce the space available for cyclists to pass alongside motor vehicles waiting to cross the east-bound lane of Belsize Road . Fairhazel Gardens is a popular rat-run and in rush-hour you find alot of motor vehicles making that turn. Perhaps a mandatory cycle lane could be put in on the left side of the filter to encourage leaving space for cyclists? The widening of the island may also cause traffic waiting to turn up into Fairhazel Gardens to block the Belsize Road exit from the roundabout.
- Tightening of the Fairhazel Gardens /Belsize Road junction: we would prefer for motorists to be guided to approach the give-way line in a perpendicular fashion by having a cycle lane on the approach to the junction. Narrowing the carriageway we fear will create a pinch point for cyclists.
- General island widening to narrow the roundabout: the plan shows only very modest extension into the roundabout carriageway, and so we do not believe that what is proposed will have any real effect.