This is an account of our impression of the CRIM (Cycle route inspection meeting) but we await the report from Camden Consultants.
CCC believes that the “corridor” route – that is, the route shown on the map at londoncyclenetwork.org.uk is unsuitable in many ways. We have therefore recommended an alternative route.
Discussion of the two routes
The CRIM involved a cycle ride over both routes, first following the corridor route and returning on the alternative route.
We assembled at Centre Point at 9.30. Meade McCloughan and Jean Dollimore representing CCC; Brian Deagan for Camden Consultants, Rob Curtis for LCN+; David Braine for TfL and Nigel Butterworth for Westminster Council.
An unusual aspect of this CRIM is that Camden Consultants were already looking for alternative alignments for Tottenham Court Road and Camden High Street.
Links to Westminster
Camden Consultants were interested in CCC’s proposal to link from Hampstead Road via Cardington Street, Gordon Street and Malet Street to Bedford Square.
We therefore looked at the possibility of a contraflow in Bedford Square and a link via Percy Street to Rathbone Place -– unfortunately the latter is suitable only for southbound cycling. We also looked at Dyott Street as a possible link to Adeline Street and Bedford Square. But Dyott Street is one-way northbound. We were disappointed that there was no good two-way route into Westminster, but still hold out hope for Bedford Square. At this point, we bade farewell to Nigel Butterworth.
Tottenham Court Road
Camden Council has plans to revert to two-way working for buses in Tottenham Court Road and large-scale improvements to its junction with Euston Road. The expected timescale is 2-3 years (Link 27 is needed sooner than that).
While David Braine was telling us about the major pedestrian improvements at the junction, the Camden Council team (Dave Stewart, Joanna Alker and Chris Nicola) arrived on their Camden pool Bromptons.
This road is popular with cyclists. A route to by pass Camden High Street, suggested by Joanna Alker at the pre-CRIM meeting was to use Arlington Road and Mornington Street then Hampstead Road as far as Cardington Street.
Hampstead road south of Robert Street has no bus or cycle lanes and also loading bays. The next section has narrow bus lanes. But we found no solution to the problem of getting southbound cyclists across Hampstead Road from Mornington Street. But TFL are planning to install some signals here, and David Braine said it may be possible to include a crossing facility for cyclist.
Camden High Street
Contraflow cycling was aired, but there are so many side roads…
We stopped for a delicious lunch and chat at the LCN+ office.
After lunch we studied Britannia junction and watched how northbound cyclists rushed into Kentish Town Road somehow avoiding the pedestrians outside the station. David Braine’s task finished here and he departed.
Kentish Town Road
We stopped to discuss the Hawley Road/Camden Street junction. Time seemed to be short and Camden Consultants went past the junctions at Royal College Street and Prince of Wales Road, so we promised to email them about cyclists problems there.
Camden Consultants noted that there was insufficient room for advisory lanes all the way, that the road is congested. there are many build outs and lots of loading…
Kentish Town Station – Dartmouth Park Road station
This was where we began to wonder who held the pen that put the line on the map of corridor routes. This one takes Leverton Street (narrow, parked up and one way), goes through the home zone and then down the hill on Lupton Street and across Brecknock Road to perform a small dog leg in Islington and arrive at Tufnell Park Station from the east. We met a pair of Islington officers here and they agreed to sacrifice the dog leg.
Up the hill to Highgate village
This starts on Dartmouth Park Hill, then turns via Churchill Road, York Rise and Brookfield Road to Swains lane. All of these are quite roads in a 20 mph zone and could be used without further work. But who ever thought Swains Lane could be part of the LCN+? It’s the steepest road into Highgate village, it’s one way and the entry between the cemetry gates is less than 5 m wide. We climbed to the top where we stopped for refreshment as it was now 4 pm.
Down hill to join the alternative route
We descended via Merton Rise and Millfield Lane to the west of West Hill. Millfield Lane provides access to the cycleway across the Heath.
Camden Consultants said we should study Highgate Road. We want to have bus lanes all the way, but the problem is that they are part time. We then turned right into Gordon House Road to follow our alternative route via Mansfield Road, Grafton Road and Castlehaven Road. We had to use the long way round to get to Jamestown Road and then Oval road.
An essential point of CCC’s alternative route is that it should run west of Camden Town and pick up cyclists from Swiss Cottage, West Hampstead or Kilburn at the Delancey/Parkway junction. Our route will cross from Oval road to Park Village East via this junction. This works very well southbound, but northbound is different! Dave Stewart said we would need another phase in the signals here to achieve this. And this is a recently upgraded junction (2005) and alterations will involve large costs that would need justification, i.e that this is the best LCN route. This could be the factor that causes our route to fail.
Parkway – Cardington Road
There would be no problem in making a contraflow cycling facilty north of Mornington Street. Park Village East is quiet and wide enough for fast cycling. Crossing to Cardington Road is difficult. Drummond Street may be preferable.
Across Euston Road – Malet Street
We demonstrated this more pleasant crossing of Euston Road and went via Gordon Street onto the SSL at Byng Place and into Malet Street.
It was by now about 6 pm and we decided to call it a day. But we felt that this CRIM was very worthwhile, thanks mainly to the open mindedness of Camden Consultants. We had been impressed that they had ridden both routes before even the pre-CRIM meeting. In addition, it was great to see the three Camden Council officers riding bikes – we hope that will not be the last time. Going out for an all-day ride for the first time must have quite challenging.