Camden Council wants to understand whether residents are supportive of proposed changes to the streets/public realm along West End Lane and Iverson Road in West Hampstead. Click here to see the consultation leaflet.
CCC initial comments
The Council is consulting on a plan to improve the street layout of West End Lane between the three stations (underground, overground and Thameslink). The main intention is to improve conditions for pedestrians, including the many commuters who walk from one station to another.
For the most part, the proposed improvements involve widening the pavements and pedestrian crossings and removing guard railings and “unnecessary” street clutter. The pavement widenings will straighten out some of the oddly indented build-outs which currently can obstruct cyclists. The removal of guard railings is a problem insofar as they are used alot by cyclists for parking; the intention to provide substitute parking on side roads, but the attraction of the guard railings is in part that they are right outside the train stations.
There are two other components to the plan which will affect cyclists.
Firstly, a new entrance to the Thameslink Station is being constructed on the north side of Iverson Road (you can see that the bridge over the train tracks has already been built). In order to facilitate pedestrian access, the Council proposes to remove the ten parking bays between side of the new entrance and the junction of Iverson Road and West End Lane, also to raise the carriageway for most of that length to encourage pedestrians to cross to and from the southern side of Iverson Road. This should improve conditions for cyclists proceeding east-bound along Iverson Road, as the carriageway is quite narrow and vehicles in the parking bays can make it difficult for them to get past motor traffic held by the traffic signals.
Secondly, in order to create a longer “green man” phase for pedestrians crossing West End Lane immediately to the north of the Iverson Road and West End Lane junction, it is proposed to ban the left-turn from Iverson Road into West End Lane for all traffic. I have already pointed out that cyclists will be likely to ignore this ban, though at peak times the flow of pedestrians over the crossing will certainly slow any such cyclists down considerably. Cyclists will of course be able to circumvent the banned left-turn by dismounting and pushing for a bit, which when the pedestrian flows are as high as they can be will probably be the best solution anyway. The question is whether we endorse the proposed left-turn ban or not.
Cycle parking is a concern. It is already very difficult to lock a bicycle on the relevant stretch of West End Lane, and the railings and “unnecessary” street clutter are frequently used by cyclists for parking. The proposal to provide cycle stands on side streets, which is OK, so far as they aren’t too far down side streets, but where possible stands should be installed on the main road. There should be space just to the south of the underground station entrance, also by the new Thameslink entrance.
We generally approve of the proposals.
On the issue of the West End Lane / Iverson Road junction (question 6), we are happy for motor traffic to be banned from making the left turn, but obviously would not want cyclists to be restricted in this way. Ideally, we would like a cyclist exemption. We are aware that the point of the left turn ban is to enable pedestrians to cross on green, but consider that this need not prevent cyclists turning left, as Highway Code Rule 170 obliges turning traffic to give way to “pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning”.
We strongly agree that one of the issues is ‘limited cycle parking facilities’.
However, we note that ‘street furniture’ is referred to as ‘unnecessary’, although much of it is used by cyclists for parking. Removing it will considerably worsen the situation. We are not aware that any account has been taken of the numbers of bicycles regularly secured to street furniture and therefore how much parking provision would need to be provided simply in order to maintain the status quo which is recognized to be inadequate. We’ve done some rudimentary research – see here. Nor are any target figures given for the provision of cycle parking, which again leads us to suspect that the issue isn’t really being taken seriously enough.
We are also disappointed that no indication is given of possible locations for new cycle parking. All that is said is that ‘cycle parking will be provided on side roads’. Which side roads and where? Again, there is no real indication of any thinking going into this. For one thing, the side roads (other than Iverson Road) are away from the main destinations, i.e. the stations, and are themselves often hardly less squeezed for space than West End Lane itself.
So, we would suggest the following as at least a starting-point:
- The Thameslink station is a popular destination for cyclists. There is one covered set of stands by the ticket office, with capacity for nine bicycles (the furthermost stand can only take one bicycle due to the abutting metal box). This facility is nearly always used to capacity. There are also regularly bicycles locked to railings within the station area and immediately adjoining the station entrance on West End Lane (the latter likely to be removed). Considerably more cycle parking needs to be provided in the station itself, and stands should also be installed on West End Lane by the entrance, where there is plenty of room.
- There should definitely be room for four to five cycle stands on the eastern side of West End Lane just to the south of the Underground Station; there are regularly up to this many cycles locked to the existing railings which you plan to remove.
- The widened pavement on the north side of Iverson Road should allow for at least ten cycle stands to be installed, if not more.
- One side road location which should be utilized is the north-west corner of Sherrif Road and West End Lane; stands should be placed close to West End Lane so that they are visible from further up.
- The station which is currently least well-served (and will become even less so) is the Overground station. The pavement opposite is one of the widest in the area (i.e. as in the photographs of ’West End Lane looking north towards Iverson Road junction’. We therefore think that the space could easily accommodate two to three cycle stands. In any case, such provision will merely replace the existing facilities (i.e. the railings, regularly used by cyclists). Failure to provide any cycle parking by Overground station would be highly retrograde.
- The existing cycle parking outside the Council office at 156 West End Lane is useless – five ‘wheel-benders’ which provide no security at all; please remove and replace with new Camden stands.