We were very excited to hear this afternoon that Cllr. Phil Jones had just signed off Camden Council ‘s proposed trial which will, at a stroke, cut by 50% the motor vehicle space along the Tavistock Place cycle route and double the Space for Cycling.
The proposal applies to the corridor along Torrington Place / Byng Place / Gordon Square / Tavistock Square / Tavistock Place between the junctions with Tottenham Court Road and Judd Street. The two drawings below show motor traffic in blue and black and cycle traffic in purple. In the section west of Gower Street, motor traffic is currently allowed to travel westbound (black arrows) only – but in the trial, they will have less road space so that westbound cycles can be provided with a track on the south side of the road while eastbound cycles will use the existing two way track.
In the trial motor traffic will travel eastbound only between Gower Street and Judd Street (blue arrows); what is currently the westbound carriageway will be given over for exclusive use by westbound cycles. The current two-way cycle track on the north side of the road will be reserved for eastbound cycles.
The westbound cycle lane will be provided with some temporary form of lightweight segregation.
Why this change?
There are three main issues with the current 10-year old two-way cycle track:
- congestion at peak times resulting in risk of collisions between cycles,
- collisions between cycles and motor vehicles – mainly at the Gordon Square (west) junction,
- and inconvenience for pedestrians who want to cross the road.
These are illustrated in the video that we made in Summer 2013.
Following the Mayor’s Vision of a Cycle Street in this corridor, LB Camden has carried out the following studies:
- Recent surveys (March 2015) show a total of over 1000 cycles in the am peak hour in both Byng Place and Tavistock Place.
- There have been 64 casualties in the three years up to November 2014. About half of those were collisions were between motor vehicles and cycles, resulting in five serious injuries and 21 slight injuries to cyclists. Nearly one-third of all cycling casualties took place at the Gordon Square (west) junction, which is one of only two locations where motor vehicles are allowed to turn across the cycle track from the main corridor.
- Opportunistic studies of the effects of a temporary emergency closure at Byng Place have shown that during the closure, although some motor traffic was displaced onto nearby streets, no disastrous effects resulted.
Why a trial?
Just imagine how difficult it would be to design a fully fledged cycle street, getting it exactly right the first time and then to get it through consultation! A trial has the advantage that it can be implemented simply (as shown in the drawings above) and the only form of consultation needed is an experimental traffic order. Trials can be carried out without time-consuming modelling; in this case, the trial will provide simple “proof of concept” that half of the road space can be reallocated from motor vehicles to cycles without creating tailbacks all over Zone 1.
As well as relieving congestion, the changes during the trial should provide:
- immediate safety improvements at Gordon Square (west) where cycles no longer go “in the wrong direction” and there will be no westbound motors to cut across the segregated track; Gordon Square (east) will be “No Entry” for motors;
- crossing the road should be easier for pedestrians because the streams of traffic change from (cycles on left, cycles on right, motors on left, motors on right) to (cycles on left, motors on right, cycles on right).
This will be an 12-month trial, starting in August or September. When it has been in place for a time, there will be a consultation as to whether to make the changes permanent. We recognise that not all issues will be addressed in this trial but we do think that it is 100% better than what we have.
After the changes are made permanent
Perhaps there will be a Cycle Street in Tavistock Place. We will need work out what that means… but it should at least be a street where people who walk or cycle are the natural users and those who drive motors are visitors who should be on their best behaviour. With that sort of ambiance, the heavy segregating kerbs should be able to come out and some of the carriageway should be able to be reallocated to the footways which are rather narrow in some places.
See the officers’ report on a page on Camden Council website