Cobden Junction, Camden - Consultation

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  • Nice to see this. A very good, simple, and (largely) uncluttered draft design approach with good (although not perfect) potential to subsequently return the Camden one-way gyratory to two-way operation (which is by far and away the most important thing to do for cycling in the London Borough of Camden), although I'd be interested in hearing engineers' thoughts on potential future lane configuration in the High Street--this presents a few challenges. No measurements are given, so always hard to tell how wide everything is.

    The intended configuration of public space is spot-on, although the draft indication of public realm design on the large space is too cluttered and should be left clearer; randomly-scattered seating, even if under trees, tends not to work too well, but these are details that would be addressed later in the design process (and off-carriageway design issues can be addressed much more easily and with less fuss than traffic management schemes). Then again, for illustrative purposes you always tend to see things here which haven't been worked out fully. It's always important to address the nodes before the connecting links, and Camden are doing this here, although they are still not able to address the wider issues of the network in which this node is located.

    ASLs are fairly pointless but don't do any great harm, either. They're a completely insignificant design detail here. Whether they're included or not won't make much of a difference. Some people like them, some don't, they have some small advantages and some small disadvantages.

    Problems still to address concern the traffic lane configuration on Crowndale Road (they should simply go for two wide lanes), the left-turn radius northbound out of Eversholt Street (needs to be tighter) together with the kerb shape at the south-east corner of Crowndale Road/Eversholt Street (the kerblines on either side of the junction mouth should be aligned better), and the envelope of the main junction, which is still somewhat too wide (as before, kerblines should be aligned as much as possible, and there appears to be some limited scope for tightening the junction further, although it's always hard to tell from such detail-free designs). Pedestrian crossings can be moved slightly closer to the junction mouths. Ideally, there should be a pedestrian crossing north of the main junction, too, which has clearly been sacrificed to enable traffic to turn right out of the Crowndale Road/Eversholt Street combination when Hampstead Road is at red. It would be better if there was an All Green Pedestrian Phase all around that junction rather than the present intention of only providing crossings on two out of three arms.

    It would be desirable to reduce the number of approach lanes on Hampstead Road to one, too. Ideally, this would be done by one wide lane (not including an ASL), but the design as drawn wouldn't cause any major problems.

    Obviously, the big problem of the one-way system still persists, but this is a step in the right direction and should have a highly beneficial impact on traffic management in Camden. Good work so far. I look forward to seeing subsequent iterations.

  • mr schick is still campaigning to improve permeability for motor vehicles, i see ;-)

  • Why would you restrict permeability for motor traffic on busy cell boundary streets like these in Camden?

  • because what you call a cell boundary is also a high st, and an increase in motor traffic is the last thing it needs.

    if i keep the one-way system, but narrow it down to just a lane and a bus lane, i can fit in some nice protected space, so everyone's happy to cycle there, not just those who like dicing it out with buses and hgvs...

    (ok, if you really really want 2-way, move all the through traffic and buses to the 2 parallel southbound streets (those can be 2-way too..) and restrict the high st to pedestrians, bikes and access...)

  • Two-way operation generally causes a decrease in motor traffic--the reason why one-way systems were built was to increase motor traffic. This intention was, of course, largely poleaxed when it became apparent that they needed signalisation and surface crossings, but even signalised one-way systems tend to have motor traffic capacity advantages over two-way operation, especially where flows are very uneven such as in London, which has heavily tidal radial traffic flows.

    Two-way operation causes more stopping traffic, as opposed to one-way through traffic which doesn't benefit the centre. For any town centre in London, one-way operation is poison. If you keep one-way operation, no matter how friendly you make the high street, you still continue to cause all the usual problems for bus passengers, who make up a large proportion of potential footfall for a town centre and who have to walk long distances to and from bus stops in the direction that happens to be inconvenient for them.

    Your suggestion for restricting access to walking and cycling only (much as I would be fully signed up to that in many circumstances, see below for the example of Mare Street Narroway) is practicable in smaller, less elongated town centres, but Camden is too long for that. Try walking all the way along North End in Croydon and you quickly see the drawbacks for this shape of town centre.

    In another case, the LCC in Hackney has always been strongly in support of taking bus traffic out of Mare Street Narroway and re-routing it around the Hackney Central Triangle. That's a very appropriate environment for achieving access by walking and cycling only, as the size of the town centre inaccessible by bus is relatively small. The trial of this is currently in progress and very successful.

    I mean, I'd love it if everybody walked and cycled along all high streets and bus traffic was not a consideration, but that isn't going to be the case in London, perhaps the world's number one bus/public transport city, anytime soon. We always have to consider the particular requirements of each place and take it step by step. In some cases, we can do it, while in other cases it wouldn't make much sense, e.g. in Camden or Stoke Newington. Those both need two-way bus traffic.

    One of the main things to achieve for increasing cycling is two-way traffic in such important streets. That's the way to increase numbers, whether you include motor traffic or not. For instance, cycle traffic increased tremendously following the introduction of two-way operation in the otherwise quite cycle-unfriendly environment of Shoreditch once it was made two-way (plenty of work left to do there, but it opened up Hackney in the way that no other scheme could have done). Had TfL done more such schemes, we would now be talking about a much higher modal share of cycling in London, but they always dragged their feet over it and actually introduced more one-way streets. (There have been some nice projects, but big ones like Tottenham Hale are still seriously flawed.)

    I'm told that the recent change to two-way operation in the Narroway (where the almost complete absence of motor traffic makes for a much better cycling environment and will do this even more once a better surface is introduced) has increased weekly cycle movements from 17,000 (which number, as I understand it, includes the high incidence of illegal contraflow cycling which went on before the change, so the increase isn't just people going the 'new' other way) to 27,000 in only a couple of weeks--this is despite both main junctions at either end still being untouched and very problematic (but as the network-relevant consideration of two-way operation has been achieved, the nodes can be tackled next). (NB the effect on 'alternative' routes that people used to take hasn't been considered in this, e.g. Churchwell Path, but that's low-volume.) Once you have more cycle traffic, you can talk about further improvements.

    As I said, Camden still has a long way to go! I by no means think that the present scheme will create ideal conditions, but it is a step in the right direction, particularly if it facilitates future two-way operation. I'm convinced that once the Camden one-way mess is tackled, Camden will actually have a much higher cycling potential than Hackney, so fingers crossed that happens within our lifetimes. :)

  • oliver,

    agree two way cycling is vital. i really don't see, though, why you think two-way motor traffic does anything for cycling. as far as i can see you're just taking away the road space that you could use to create high-quality, safe cycle infrastructure... which means you effectively exclude the high percentage of potential cyclists who don't like to cycle in between buses and hgvs (and why would you want to do that?)

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/lcc_production_b­ucket/files/5906/original.pdf?1376047072­

    you're very pessimistic both about people's ability and willingness to walk, and about how much shops benefit from traffic-free streets. camden high st isn't much bigger than westfield... there's no bus running through the middle of westfield, as far as i know...

  • . . . . . . . .
    you're very pessimistic both about people's ability and willingness to walk, and about how much shops benefit from traffic-free streets. camden high st isn't much bigger than westfield... there's no bus running through the middle of westfield, as far as i know...
    and cycling to Westfield is so much fun http://goo.gl/maps/f1JXN

  • yes.. in fact, just this evening i heard a couple of cyclists arguing about whether to try to go over the roundabout, or take the subway...

  • final bump.... the more people write in, more likely they are to review...

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Cobden Junction, Camden - Consultation

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