Following the Public Inquiry into the Camden (Torrington Place to Tavistock Place) Traffic Order in October 2017, the Inspector published his report on 16th May 2018. It is available from Camden’s website, here.
His recommendations are in Section 10 and read as follows:
10.1 Having regard to these and all other matters raised at the inquiry and in the written representations I recommend that The Camden (Torrington Place to Tavistock Place) (Prescribed Routes, Waiting and Loading Restrictions and Loading Places) Traffic Order  is not made.
10.2 Noting my conclusions above [8.16.11] I recommend that the Council consider the modification of the Order so as to provide for westbound only vehicular traffic whilst retaining the provision for separate west bound and east bound cycle lanes. As noted above such a modification would require further steps to be taken under regulation 14 (4) of the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996. If the Council takes a view that the Order cannot be modified then it is open to the Council to make a further Order to provide for the westbound configuration.
Discussion between CCC and London Living Streets
John Chamberlain and others from CCC met with John Hartley from London Living Streets to write a joint response to the Inspector’s report. We have already discussed this response with Cllr Adam Harrison and sent a copy to Camden officers in advance of our Quarterly Meeting on 25th June.
Response to Inspector’s Report from Camden Cycling Campaign and London Living Streets
Our position is the same as expressed during the Inquiry – we strongly support the current layout (motor traffic eastbound between Judd Street and Gower Street). The suggested reversal to allow westbound motor traffic has significant disadvantages and would require a number of interventions to make it safe but is greatly preferable to removal of the scheme, which we think would be disastrous.
It should be noted that the Inspector, in his conclusions, says that the advantages and disadvantages are “finely balanced” so for Camden to go ahead and implement the order against the Inspector’s recommendations could not be considered highly controversial, particularly bearing in mind the likely costs of reverting to the pre-trial layout and/or conducting a further consultation/trial on Westbound which, no doubt, would raise issues of its own.
Accepting the suggestion to reverse the traffic flow would be an implicit recognition that Tavistock Place should be a route for through traffic, contrary to Camden’s policy. It would also set a precedent; that on relatively minor roads the needs of motors takes precedence over cyclists and pedestrians.
Reversion to two-way motor traffic
The arguments against removing the scheme are numerous and have been expressed at length before. We will not repeat them except to say that such a move would, we believe, be disastrous both in terms of its local effect on pedestrians, cyclists, residents and visitors and as a precedent for removal and/or non-installation of similar schemes across the Borough and London as a whole.
Disadvantages of westbound motor traffic
The disadvantages to the suggested reversal of motor traffic flow are numerous; we list some here:
- Increased volumes of motor traffic on the corridor and on surrounding streets, especially Sidmouth Street, Regent Square and the western part of Torrington Place (between Gower Street and Tottenham Court Road), with concomitant loss of amenity for pedestrians and cyclists, increased pollution and increased danger from turning traffic.
- Cost of new consultation, possible new trial and redesign.
- Confusion leading to safety issues during and after implementation with pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicle operators not expecting the change in layout.
- Risk that the consultation will fail and that we will revert to the previous unacceptable scheme with two-way motor traffic.
Impact on CS6
- CS6 currently uses Sidmouth Street and Tavistock Place and relies on low motor traffic volumes on these streets. Increased motor traffic volumes (expected to be in the range 2-300 extra vehicles during both a.m. and p.m. peak) due to reversal of the motor flow on the Tavistock Place corridor would likely mean that physical measures would be needed; these would have to include either filtering and/or a left turn ban for motors into Sidmouth Street from Grays Inn Road or physical separation for cycle tracks.
Impact on Howland Street
- Increased westbound traffic on Torrington Place would feed into Howland Street which is a key part of the E-W cycle route connecting to Westminster and onwards. Although Howland Street has a protected lane there is no such lane in the continuation into Westminster along New Cavendish Street and increased motor traffic here would have a seriously detrimental effect on cyclists’ safety.
Impact on WEP
- As made clear by Camden and by residents, the current layout is key to mitigating the effect of WEP on local motor traffic levels. A westbound scheme would have a serious negative impact on motor traffic levels.
- At the junction with Tottenham Court Road, increased motor traffic levels would greatly increase the difficulty for westbound cyclists negotiating the right turn and would increase the danger of left hooks. To make it safe, this junction would have to be redesigned, probably with a cycle phase.
Impact on the Brunswick Square scheme
- The impact on the Brunswick Square scheme was not considered in the Inspector’s conclusions.
Turning movements across the cycle tracks
- Increased motor traffic flows would increase the number of conflicts due to left- and right- turning vehicles; this would especially be an issue at Gordon Square where taxis and other vehicles will turn right to get to Euston Station. The Inspector [8.15.8] makes a comparison with a ‘No Trial’ situation, but we need to get the best outcome for people who cycle. At this junction, the reverse trial will produce more motor vehicles turning across the track than the trial does. Such conflicts were commonplace before the introduction of the current experimental scheme and formed an important part of the case for its introduction.
Notes on Modelling Studies
Some people may have been confused by the modelling studies undertaken on behalf of ILHL. These studies compare the situation with two-way motors after implementation of WEP and Brunswick (“No Trial”) with eastbound (the Trial) and with westbound one-way working. In other words, ‘no change’ means a reversion to the pre-trial situation plus any impact of WEP.
For example, the Inspector [8.15.14] notes that modelling shows no increase on Torrington Place between Gower Street and Tottenham Court Road. This is because the modelling compares the reverse trial with ‘No Trial’. However the modelling also tells us that the Trial reduces motor traffic in this street, as we have also seen from the traffic counts in Simi Shah’s evidence Appendix 3.
London Living Streets
Camden Cycling Campaign
10th June 2018