This post is about the area between Theobalds Road and High Holborn shown on Map 1. It suffers from being adjacent to the eastern side of the Holborn gyratory in Procter Street: before the recent changes, motor traffic used a variety of cut-throughs between the boundary roads, e.g. cutting through from Theobalds Road to Procter Street, via Red Lion Street, Princeton Street and Red Lion Square to avoid traffic signals; or straight through Red Lion Street between Theobalds Road and High Holborn.
Map 1 shows the many beneficial changes made over the last four years. The pink area is now filtered so that there are no cut-throughs between the border roads – we refer to this below as a ‘Mini LTN’.
The short red lines indicate the position of the new bollards closing roads.
In the two tiny green areas (on Red Lion Street and on Bedford Row) space for motor traffic was replaced by planting.
Click on any map or photo to see an enlargement.
Closure of the entry to Princeton Street 2019
Photo 1 shows the new bollards that prevent motor vehicles from cutting through Princeton Street to Red Lion Square and on to Procter Street.
Streetview Sept 2017 shows this junction prior to the changes where the entry to the cycle contraflow was very narrow.
See our 2019 report on this change.
Mini LTN summer 2020
We refer to this as a Mini LTN because its area is tiny compared with others such as Camden Square and Queen’s Crescent. But sandwiched as it is between Theobalds Road and High Holborn (north and south) and Proctor Street on the west it couldn’t be much bigger; even if it were to fill the space up to Gray’s Inn Road (maps 2 and 3 below), the area would still be only one-fifth of the Camden Square LTN. It is a similar size to the recently completed Seven Dials LTN. In the south of Camden where the major roads are much closer together, LTN areas are bound to be smaller than those further north. Even further from the centre, the area around Dartmouth Park which is on the northern boundary of Camden, currently under engagement is much bigger than Camden Square.
The Red Lion Mini LTN scheme was implemented with an 18-month temporary traffic order: new bollard-protected filters were placed in Red Lion Street and in Dane Street, which, together with the one installed the previous year in Princeton Street eliminated through-motor traffic on Red Lion Street, greatly enhancing the north-south cycle and walking route from Kings Cross to Holborn – shown as a blue line on Map 1.
Red Lion Street was seriously congested before this scheme
In summer 2016 a member sent us a series of photos (Photo 2 is one of them): she said she regularly attempted to cycle to work down Lamb’s Conduit Street and across Theobalds Road into Red Lion Street. Lamb’s Conduit Street had been filtered for many years but, as she said, it was near-impossible to get into Red Lion Street in the AM rush hour.
Red Lion Street is so much better than before
Photo 3 was taken after the scheme had been in for about a year. The view is facing south down Red Lion Street at the junction with Princeton Street.
Although cyclists can go right through, anyone in a motor vehicle can access the northern section of Red Lion Street only from Theobalds Road and the southern section only from High Holborn. There are additional indirect routes between these boundaries shown on Map 2 below.
Making permanent and greening 2022-3
Camden Council made a decision to make the scheme permanent and to add two major improvements:
- to create a pedestrian and cycle-only zone on Red Lion Street (with widened footways, a paved cycle track, new trees and cycle stands);
- and to restrict southbound motor traffic on Bedford Row at the junction with Sandland Street, creating a new public space with new trees and seating areas, cycle stands and a southbound cycle track.
C41 cycle route
In 2012, Camden installed signage for a route from King’s Cross to Holborn using Judd Street, Hunter Street, Lamb’s Conduit Street and Red Lion Street – it was intended to be on low-traffic roads (which Lamb’s Conduit Street already was at that time). The closure of Judd Street at Euston Road and the transformation of Brunswick Square in 2019 vastly improved the northern end of the route. Finally, the Red Lion scheme completed the task.
In the Summer 2023, TfL signed up a cycle route named C41 which follows this route (with an extension from Euston), see our post here.
The photo shows a sign on Red Lion Street south of the road closure: the new trees can be seen in the distance.
Consider the wider area shown on the two maps below, which extends east to Gray’s Inn Road and is mainly occupied by Gray’s Inn Fields and Gray’s Inn itself: the filters already in place do a fairly good job in preventing cut-throughs between boundary roads. But three northbound cut-throughs remain (purple lines) as shown on the Map 2.
The Monitoring results published with the decision report show weekday counts of motor traffic flows on the southern end of Red Lion Street and on Bedford Row of 1252 and 1396 respectively. Although these are not very high numbers, Camden implemented the southbound restriction at the junction of Bedford Row and Sandland Street (described above) to prevent southbound cut-throughs, leaving the northbound ones in place (Map 2). We wonder why they didn’t take the bigger step of a full restriction involving northbound motor traffic as well (Map 3) which would leave a single cut-through via Jockey’s Fields – but it would remove the cut-throughs from the northern end of the cycle route on Red Lion Street.
We are very pleased that this Mini LTN has been put in place, not only does it reduce the motor traffic on Red Lion Street but also on the southern end of Lamb’s Conduit Street and Guilford Place also on the C41 cycle route. But also the cycling experience on all of the roads in this area has been improved enormously.
We believe that the cycle-only section with the trees south of Princeton Street provides an enhancement to the feeling of the cycling experience and would be interested to know whether there is increased activity at the shops and cafés in the area. Holborn Councillor, Julian Fulbrook says:
"Incremental change is probably the better gradualist strategy in the face of bitter opposition. But as with other schemes in Camden, once implemented local residents wonder why on earth they ever opposed the changes! As a local resident myself I am thrilled with the transformation brought about by just this modest mini LTN and in due course hopefully we can prevent the northbound ‘rat running’ and then go on to tackle the much more problematic Holborn Gyratory, where again we are starting right now to make some modest changes which can then be developed further"