14 new things Camden’s transport boss told me when I interviewed him about cycling

Today I interviewed  Phil Jones, Camden Borough Council’s cabinet member for transport. Here’s what he told me about cycling in one of central London’s key boroughs:

Royal College Street has seen a 40% to 50% increase in cycle traffic since its cycle track was upgraded

The new Royal College Street cycle track - image from Sustrans

The new Royal College Street cycle track – image from Sustrans

The flagship cycle route has also seen a reduction in motor traffic speeds.

I think it’s been very successful. That’s proved in terms of the volumes of cyclists going through there. I can give you the precise figures, but it’s something around a 40% to 50% uplift on the flow of cyclists using that street – it’s different on different parts of the street. Also, the traffic has slowed down on that street as well, the cars. Now the road is more narrow the traffic is slowing. So on those two key measures it’s gone well.

Westminster City Council are deliberately blocking 20mph speed limits on borough boundary roads with Camden

When Islington brought its 20mph limit in, Camden said it was fine to apply it to boundary roads.

When Islington brought in [20mph limits], they asked whether we could have the boundary roads between the two boroughs as 20mph, we said yes, and then we brought in our own 20mph borough limit in December. Whereas Westminster have refused to have their borough boundary roads as 20mph. It’s a difference of philosophy.

Camden won’t rule out a rush-hour HGV ban

But they’re not exactly pushing for one either

If there are proposals then we’ll definitely look at them, because we know it’s important. So I wouldn’t rule anything out, and I wouldn’t rule anything in. I think Camden would always want to err on the side of cycle safety, but there do have to be deliveries, there does have to be traffic going through central London. It’s not feasible to say that it can’t, and it becomes a practical measure about what you’d do, and we’d have to look at the evidence.

The planters on Royal College Street are getting flexible bollards to protect them

Some of the planters on Royal College Street have been damaged by motorists - image from Alternative Department for Transport

Some of the planters on Royal College Street have been damaged by motorists – image from Alternative Department for Transport

The council will also be repairing damage done to them by motorists.

“There’s been some damage to the planters … by the end of this month they should have all been repaired. I don’t know what it’s going to look like actually on the street, but we’re going to put in, I’m told, a flexible, kind-of bollard in front of some of them which are in vulnerable positions, and put in more visibility on some of them so that it’s less likely to be hit. “

The council will extend the Royal College Street track north to Kentish Town, west through Delancey Street, and south

Pending a consultation, which will be done by the end of March.

We’re going to do consultations on the extensions of the scheme. So it’ll be to the north, up to Kentish Town, and down south, and hopefully over Camden High Street as well towards Regent’s Park, because we need to improve the East-West connectivity in that area. Delancey Street. The consultation should be this financial year. [In the next two months, ends March 31st]

Here’s what the extension could look like on a map when it’s finished:

Royal College Street extension plan - original image from Google Maps

Royal College Street extension plan – original image from Google Maps

Camden is planning ‘armadillo’ light segregated lanes for Gower Street

There won’t be planters, but there will be two-way cycle tracks.

We hope to introduce light segregation on Gower Street in Central London on both sides of the road. There’s not width there for planters but we can fit in two armadillo tracks on each side of that road, that’s a key north-south route, and we’re planning to do that as part of the changes to that area.

The Council is considering segregated lanes on York Way, to King’s Cross

It would link with Cycle Superhighway 12.

We were wondering about segregation in terms of York Way … [you’d have] the north-south superhighway coming up to King’s Cross, and then segregation going up York Way.

Here’s what it currently looks like:

York Way, north of King's Cross - image from Google Streetview

York Way, north of King’s Cross – image from Google Streetview

Camden are looking at the option of segregated cycle lanes on Theobalds Road/Clerkenwell Road

The council has allocated £300,000 to develop a long-term plan for the road, but no decision has been made.

The ideal situation would be to remove the gyratory, improve it for cyclists. Whether you can put segregation down, it would be nice – I don’t know if we can, it’s going to require a great deal of modelling, investigation, and quite a long time. We’ve put aside £300,000 to do work to look into it and so that’s what we’ll be doing over the next year … It’s very much at the stage of considering what is the best thing to do at that street.

Bus drivers were against cyclists using the Theobalds Road bus lane

Jones argues the ban on cyclists using the lane wasn’t “anti-cyclist”.

I think sometimes people get the wrong idea about this. The fact that cyclists were banned from there wasn’t an anti-cyclist thing, it was because people, there was concern from bus drivers in particular, that cyclists overtaking them might get hit by oncoming traffic, and these things used to happen to some cyclists. There has been a new safety assessment done by the police, and the council has made a traffic order, which is going to come into force.

Camden is happy to sacrifice on-street car parking for cycling schemes

Jones says there’ll certainly be no increase in parking spaces.

Cycling is a priority above on-street parking. The amount of traffic going through Camden in the last ten years has gone down very significantly. … Over time road space has been allocated away from parking to other things. We do get a lot of hostility from residents who do park to removing parking spaces … we certainly wouldn’t be increasing parking spaces. If there was a big scheme that needed some parking to be removed then it certainly wouldn’t be a barrier to doing it but we’d have to look at it in detail given the local circumstances and given the nature of that particular road.

Camden supports removing through motor traffic from the Regent’s Park Outer Circle

The Royal Parks aren’t necessarily so keen.

Yes, [removing through traffic from Regent’s Park Outer Circle] is something [we’re in favour of] and I’ve met with the Royal Parks, and it’s the Royal Parks Paving Commission, I believe, that controls that road. We definitely think that there’s a strong case to restrict traffic through there – it could be great.

The route is included in the Central London Grid; at that time when I met with them a few months ago, they were willing to consider it and talk about it, but it wasn’t clear that they were going to make any firm moves. But I have seen that it’s one the Central London Grid network, so hopefully that will make some progress.

There’ll be a bike counter on Royal College Street by the end of February

The bike counter on Goldsmiths Row in Hackney

The bike counter on Goldsmiths Row in Hackney – image via Oliver OBrien

The counter will be similar to the one installed in Hackney’s Goldsmiths Row.

I’m actually going to put a cycle counter in there, I think they’ve put on in Hackney already. We’re going to put one of those in in a couple of weeks time.

The council wants Boris bikes in Kentish Town

But TfL doesn’t look like it’s going to fund an expansion.

The next logical place where [Boris bikes] should go should be Kentish Town, and we’d very much like to see it there. We’ve called for that again and again. They’re not providing any funding for that though, so I don’t think that it’s likely to happen quickly.

Boris bike ranks at busy stations are likely to be enlarged soon

TfL wants to expand the most popular sites rather than spread the scheme out further.

What we are doing is that they want to meet with us quite soon to look at expanding some of the existing cycle hire stations around busy locations, so for example the King’s Cross type area, around the major stations. So the focus at the moment, from TfL’s point of view is expanding the popular ones that exist rather than giving any big new expansions to the north.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

2 Responses to 14 new things Camden’s transport boss told me when I interviewed him about cycling

  1. Tammela 24/01/2014 at 6:34 pm #

    This is very hopeful! I can vouch for the fact that Royal College Street is now so much more pleasant — not to mention way safer — to cycle down.

  2. Not Mayor Johnson's bikes 11/02/2014 at 9:10 pm #

    Can we stop calling them Boris Bikes please? They’re not. He didn’t plan them or order them, he just opened the boxes and chose a sponsor.

    Just call them Hire Bikes, or Cycle Hire Scheme Bikes… or something else.

    Also, calling him Boris plays right into his playful imp who messes things up but it’s okay propaganda. If we call him Mayor Johnson it makes it clear that he is a grown up, with a responsibility to get things right and safe.

    Other than that, GREAT article!

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