You are TfL.. what road would you change?

It’s a normal day at work when suddenly a new message pops up in your inbox: “Congratulations on your new job as head of TfL!”.

Reading the email you are excited. Not only do you have a fat new pay check to look forward to every month but your first task in office is to pick a road in London you want to turn into a flagship example of a liveable street. What road do you pick and why?

My choice: Pedestrianizing Camden High Street

The Camden High Street

Personally, I’d opt for the Camden High Street. The 0.2 mile stretch that goes from Camden Town tube station to near the Hawley Arms. This stretch of road must have one of the highest number of pedestrians in London and already has only a single, northbound lane of slow moving traffic.

If you mention Camden to anyone who’s visited London, usually there’s a lot of excitement and interest. Along the short stretch is the famous Camden market, a number of pubs, bars and independent stores.

However, the market is crowded and people are crossing the street both at day and, more dangerously, at night as they pour out of the many bars.

Pedestrianizing the street would make it far more enjoyable and easy to traverse on foot. Turning the high street into an even greater tourist attraction. As part of the pedestrianizing, there could also be installation of a two way bicycle lane, making the area more permeable and safe to cyclists.

As for the existing, minimal amount of traffic moving through the short 0.2 mile stretch, this could easily be diverted along the A400 and A502 to go around Camden.

In the hot chair: What would you choose?

If you were given the choice, what road would you change? It can be a road that you feel should have a separate cycle lane, perhaps part of your commute or, as in the example above, a busy high street.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

24 Responses to You are TfL.. what road would you change?

  1. el-gordo 16/09/2011 at 9:32 am #

    No idea how you would do it (I would be one of those bosses that says something cr@p like “I don’t want to hear problems, just solutions”) but Oxford Street desperately needs something doing with it.

    It is embarrassing. I dread to think what most tourists must think when they turn up at the shopping ‘capital’ of London. It’s hardly Paris or Rome, is it? It doesn’t even compare that favourably with Swindon, at least their High Street is pedestrianised!

  2. JP 16/09/2011 at 9:34 am #

    I think it is a great idea padestianising that part of Camden, but by putting cycle lanes in does that not sort of defeat the purpose of padestrinisation?

    • Keith 16/09/2011 at 2:26 pm #

      Yeah, I can’t imagine much people would pay attention to the fact the bike lane is there, leading to fustration and potential collisions (the footbridge near chalk farm tube is a good example of how people ignore those sorts of lanes)… It’s bad enough at the moment in camden with people randomly walking out on the road without looking.

      In addition, I can imagine what will happen if you pedestrianise that area, it will become as crammed up with market stalls as inverness street.

      Sorry to be so negative… I guess its one of those areas where the people making decisions look like they are incompetent, but you sit down and try and do their job and realise… actually its a lot to think about.

      Staying on the subject of camden high street though, I am always surprised how easy it is to cycle up the stretch from mornington cresant to camden town tube, despite it being a busy 4 lane road with everyone changing lanes.
      The reason…. its 20mph.

      Make everything 20mph please TfL.

  3. youngdonkey 16/09/2011 at 9:46 am #

    resurface kentish town road, put proper cycle lanes on it, ban HGVs on it except during the night for deliveries and remove all the on street parking.

  4. Tom 16/09/2011 at 10:25 am #

    +1 Oxford Street!

    • chris 16/09/2011 at 10:57 am #

      I work on Oxford Street and the best thing to do with it is demolish it and then turn it into a park!

      • Vince 16/09/2011 at 1:03 pm #

        +1 to that. New Oxford St, and Oxford St… all the way to Bond Street and even Marble Arch.

      • Hilly 16/09/2011 at 3:55 pm #

        If you were to remove the traffic (all except the emergency vehicles and possible bikes, of course, and look at the buildings on both sides of Oxford Street, I think you might find that it has some gorgeous architecture.

  5. chris 16/09/2011 at 11:01 am #

    If I was TfL I would do the following:

    – Get rid of all gyratory systems: Vauxhall, Tottenham, Elephant & Castle especially.

    – Make speed limit 20mph in zones 1 & 2

    – Enforce 3 points/£60 on all vehicles that stop in ASL’s, including, and especially, motorbikes.

    – 1 sunday of every month ban all private vehicles from zone 1. Only peds, bicycles, buses and emergency vehicles allowed.

    • Filippo Negroni 16/09/2011 at 11:32 am #


      I would add

      – make left turns at red legal
      – allow contra-flow cycle traffic on one-way streets

      • Amanda O'Dell 17/09/2011 at 8:43 pm #

        +1 for the one-way streets!

  6. pete 16/09/2011 at 11:52 am #

    the whole area around trafalgar square !!!

  7. Chris 16/09/2011 at 12:00 pm #

    For liveable streets we need to realise that for many the car is their choice. We choose to cycle. Many choose not to. The liveable street must make sense to all its users.

    The problem with too many pieces of transport infrastructure is that certain design choices were made which don’t make sense to some – or any – of the people impacted. For me, the single best item is to justify *every* set of traffic lights – especially lights which stop a major road to allow feeder traffic from a side street. These generally mean traffic from one direction being stopped unnecessarily, especially if there’s a bus cycle lane as well as an open lane. So if I’m cycling down a road with a cycle/bus lane and a side road is joining from the right, why should I need to stop?

    A liveable street is one where the people stopped from doing something (be it temporarily impeding progress at a traffic light or permanently through a ban on certain forms of transport) can understand why it’s happening. Too many traffic light controlled junctions don’t make any sense.

  8. iambrianjones 16/09/2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I would change Bishopsgate to allow only busses, bicycles, cargo bikes, taxis, and emergency vehicles between 0730 and 18:30. All large deliveries would only be permitted outside of those hours. The street area covering the entire frontage of Liverpool Street Station would be one large pedestrian crossing area. At this pedestrian crossing the signals would change to green whenever three or more busses need to pass through the pedestrian crossing. There would separated bike lanes and seperate signals for bicycles the entire length of Bishopsgate.

  9. Hilly 16/09/2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Just one?

    OK, Portland Place W1.

    I would give gainful employment to the nation’s best tunnellers and bid them tunnel an up and a down route sub surface along Portland Place. Suitably ventilated of course.

    This would release that wonderful urban city scape to be transformed with trees, cycle routes and promenades – all leading to one of London’s great parks, The Regent’s Park.

    PS: the idea to turn Portland Place into the equivalent of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas has already been put forward by Sir Terry Farrell. I am just adding the bit about the tunnels.

    It you require further ideas for bridging the unlovely Marylebone Road to access the lovely Regent’s Park, get in touch.

  10. Mark Strong 16/09/2011 at 5:13 pm #

    I agree with iambrianjones. Bishopsgate corridor (L’pool St to London Bridge) is a key N-S axis. But it needs resurfacing as well!

    But is it TLRN?

  11. Evan 16/09/2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Anyone who has cycled central London when the roads are closed might agree that much of inner London should be pedestrianised / cycle-laned. Last time I did this was just after the gay pride march and it was great fun pootling around all those areas without any traffic.

  12. Sophie Hobson 16/09/2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Great suggestion. It may also be wise for TFL to look into the accessibility of some tube stations across the network.
    Sophie Hobson, deputy editor, London Loves Business

  13. skippy 16/09/2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Many parts of London could be easily turned into ” Pedestrian Only ” areas by more tunnelling ! Costs are a factor but considering the cost in terms of pollution and stop go traffic and the ” Congestion Tax ” this is the only way forward !

    Tunnels were created for the railways so the technology is available but is the political will !

  14. John 16/09/2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Don’t get too carried away with pedestrianisation, In Cardiff they pedestrianised all the city centre, On he main street they then banned cyclists from it as the public were frightened of getting run over by a cyclist, so now we have cycle racks and hire bikes at either end!
    One of the other comments was on the ball as well, the trees, lamp posts, bins, benches, coffee shop tables and chairs, street traders and delivery lorries until 10:30 am and hoards of people all move in to fill in the gaps but no cyclists!
    Where we can cycle it is very often slowly and quite often quicker to jump off and push the bike through the crowds..
    Roads do give us a fairly easy conduit as opposed to the Ideas of vast open pavements to cycle on which so often don’t materialise.

  15. Ben 16/09/2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Stupid idea. Kentish Town road is already massively busy. Diverting all the traffic from Camden High Street would make it gridlocked. And good luck cycling up the pedestrianised version. You’ll soon be wanting the roadway back.

  16. Uzair Siddiqi 16/09/2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Oxford Street and Garratt Lane!

  17. Hilly 16/09/2011 at 10:26 pm #

    A supplement to my contributions earlier:

    as a lover of Lon-don, Lon-don, Lon-don, I am SO jealous of Dutch cities and how they solve freight and transport problems.

    Here are a couple of samples from Utrecht

  18. dsss 20/09/2011 at 8:18 am #

    Agree with some sort if improvement in and around Oxford Street. Often stumped with a good City – West End route.

    I’d look to improve Upper Ground from Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge. Used a lot by those travelling from Waterloo. I’ve been using it for more than 5 years and I’m pretty sure there have been near continuous roadworks, none of which are road improvements.

    Improve Upper Ground or even better have a segregated or easy to use (volume) cycle route along the river.


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