What does this scheme introduce?
The scheme introduces a simpler layout for all road users which will be easier to understand, especially for pedestrians. This includes a new ‘straight across’ crossing over Pentonville Road, improving the current confusing layout. We know that people can have difficulty understanding which of the triple staggered crossings are on green and from which direction traffic is coming. The crossing over the Kings Cross Road will be re-aligned so that it is quicker and shorter for those walking east-west along Pentonville Road. The scheme also provides wider pavements and other traffic calming measures, including the closure of the junction with Northdown street to motorised traffic. We are also introducing the ability for cyclists to cross the Inner Ring Road, enabling cyclists to travel from Northdown Street to Kings Cross Road.
Why is this scheme needed?
To improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists and also to form an important new cycle connection. The Kings Cross gyratory is dominated by traffic, being a key strategic corridor for freight and other traffic. At this junction there have been a number of collisions in which people walking and cycling have been injured. TfL’s funding has been severely impacted by the pandemic, meaning further plans to improve the gyratory will need to be phased, but making this junction simpler and safer for pedestrians and cyclists is a key priority. We want to remove the confusing layout where it is not always clear for pedestrians which green signal to obey, or from which direction traffic is coming.
Why have you broken up the changes to the gyratory into phases?
Following the impact of COVID-19 to our finances, we are no longer in a position financially to progress improvements to the entire gyratory all at once. While we have to be realistic about TfL’s financial position, this does not mean that our ambition to transform the area is reduced. It is vital that we take action to keep people safe and to support and encourage those people who can, to walk and cycle.
Instead, we plan on making phased safety improvements to the gyratory, as a series of separate schemes, in a financially sustainable way.
When will you consult on the other phases of improvements to the gyratory?
We hope to consult on changes to Grays Inn Road later in 2023.
What happened to the previous proposals to deliver improvements across the entire Kings Cross Gyratory, including the plans to introduce two-way working on parts of it?
We originally planned to make improvements to the entire Kings Cross Gyratory, including converting some roads to two-way operation. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, it had a huge impact on our income and meant that we no longer had the funding to proceed with a number of major investments on our road network. Making improvements to Kings Cross Gyratory remained a high priority for us however, so we will instead be making improvements in a phased approach that can be delivered within the funding we have available. This means we can deliver the most important improvements sooner.
The Pentonville Road/Kings Cross Road junction is one of our highest priority areas to change, in order to deliver safety improvements and a new cycle crossing over the Inner Ring Road. We are hoping to make further changes to other parts of the gyratory in the near future.
Does this mean two-way operation may still be possible in the future?
A gyratory removal scheme would be an enormously expensive undertaking, which we don’t expect to be able to fund for the foreseeable future. Our focus for the time being is to make vital safety improvements based around the existing one-way working, in order to deliver improvements to pedestrians and cyclists as soon as possible within our financial means.
Why are you proposing a shared-use footway area, wouldn’t it be better for cyclists to have their own track rather than mixing with pedestrians?
We gave extensive consideration to a parallel pedestrian and cycle crossing during the optioneering process, but ultimately concluded a shared space layout would be best in this instance, considering how limited the available space is.
The proposed layout, where pedestrians have priority in a shared-use area, is designed to slow approaching cyclists down, for instance the alignment of the crossing/street furniture provide a horizontal deflection for cyclists travelling from Northdown Street, southbound into Kings Cross Road. The scheme also considered all cycle types, and should allow enough space for cargo bikes and adapted cycles.
If we provide a separate cycle track, this could see cyclists travelling southbound down Northdown Street approaching the crossing at a high speed, which could cause conflict with people walking along Pentonville Road, across the mouth of Northdown Street. We considered that that design would be a greater risk to pedestrians, especially those with sensory impairment and low mobility, than the shared-use area we are proposing. Furthermore, due to the limited road space available at this junction, it would not be possible to provide a separate cycle crossing of adequate quality which would give a high enough level of service to pedestrians..
A shared space layout also enables us to include protected cycle right-turn movements from Pentonville Road eastbound into Kings Cross Road southbound, plus from Pentonville Road westbound into Northdown Street northbound. We felt this was an important addition to help less confident cyclists to safely make these manoeuvres. Cyclists making this movement would join the eastbound dropped kerb on Pentonville Road, before using the toucan crossing to cross Pentonville Road and continue their journey southwards.
We consider the safety benefits of these two, new protected right turning movements, alongside the slower speed of cyclists which the shared-use layout ensures, to outweigh the impacts brought by the toucan crossing area/shared use footway areas, factoring in the limited available space. The area has been designed to give pedestrians priority and encourage cyclists to slow to an appropriate speed.
How will this scheme impact journey times for buses/freight/other motor traffic?
No journey time impacts are expected for those using Pentonville Road or Kings Cross Road. A small diversion is required for vehicles accessing Northdown Street, who currently access it from the Pentonville Road junction.
These vehicles will need to access Northdown Street from Collier Street via Killick Street.
Why do you need to close Northdown Street?
In order to simplify the road layout, improve crossing conditions for pedestrians and enable a new cycle crossing, we need to convert the existing staggered crossing layout into a straight-across toucan crossing. Due to the geometry of the Kings Cross Road junction, we need to move this further east than it already is.
We also want to make sure there’s plenty of room for cyclists and pedestrians to navigate through the area, so we would like to make the crossing much wider and extend the footway across the mouth of the Northdown Street junction. Subject to ground conditions and further survey work, we would also like to plant a tree here if we can.
Will closing Northdown Street to traffic at the Pentonville Road junction increase journey times for those needing to access properties on the southern end of Northdown Street by motor vehicle?
Vehicles which currently access Northdown Street by turning in to and out of Pentonville Road, are expected to re-route via Killick Street and Collier Street. This diversion will result in a very small extra distance to drive (approximately 250-370 metres) and a small increase in journey time of one to two minutes.
We consider the safety benefits of this scheme to outweigh this small impact on vehicular journeys.
Will closing Northdown Street to traffic at the Pentonville Road junction result in an increase in traffic on other residential roads nearby?
A very small number of motor vehicles enter and exit Northdown Street at the Pentonville Road junction. In the peak hour, 12 motor vehicles were counted exiting onto Pentonville Road, and 27 motor vehicles entered from Pentonville Road. We therefore expect that less than one additional vehicle per minute would use Killick Street/Collier Street, which we do not expect to have any material impact.
How am I supposed to get my car out of Northdown Street if I live on the southern end?
We are proposing to relocate cycle hire docking stations to make turning movements easier. New ‘No Through Road’ signs will be installed so that only residents and deliveries will be accessing the southern part of the road. We are also making some changes to parking and loading bays to make sure there’s enough space to turn around. We are ensuring there is no reduction in loading/blue badge bays, but there will be a reduction in pay and display bays. Larger vehicles needing to load should use the bay on Kings Cross Road, which will be slightly lengthened.
When do you expect to make the changes?
Subject to consultation and funding, we hope to deliver these changes in 2024.
There are disruptive HS2 works in the Euston area, will this scheme add to delays and congestion?
HS2 are currently undertaking major utilities works further west on the A501, in the vicinity of Euston Station. The mandate for these works form part of the powers for the wider HS2 construction at Euston, which have been granted under an Act of Parliament. This is part of a series of HS2 works involving lane closures on Euston Road over the next seven years and TfL is working with HS2 to ensure people are aware of the disruption and can plan ahead. These works are to enable the construction of the new HS2 station at Euston, and creating new connections to allow customers to change between the Tube lines at Euston and Euston Square stations. Further details can be found at tfl.gov.uk/HS2.
These HS2 works will reduce the eastbound traffic flow on the Inner Ring Road, meaning that the eastbound flows on A501 Pentonville Road will be lower than usual for several years. As a result, we expect that disruption caused by construction of the Pentonville Road/Kings Cross Road safety scheme will be lower than it would have been otherwise.