Camden Council has opened an “urgent” consultation on changes to the Holborn Gyratory, where eight cyclists have lost their lives in crashes involving lorries and coaches since 2008, the most recent being lawyer Shatha Ali, aged 39, who was killed there in March this year.
The gyratory, which lies at the intersection of two very busy routes for cycle commuters, especially on the east-west axis, but which provide no physical segregation from motor traffic for people on bikes, has been the regular scene of protests by London Cycling Campaign and Stop Killing Cyclists calling for safety measures to be brought in to prevent people on bikes from being killed there.
Launched earlier this week and running until 11 November, the proposals that are subject to the consultation include a new x-style, diagonal pedestrian crossing at the junction outside Holborn Underground Station, similar to the crossing installed at Oxford Circus in 2009.
The plans will also see Proctor Street, which runs southbound on the eastern side of the gyratory from Theobalds Road to High Holborn, remodelled with the installation of a separate bus lane as well as a two-way segregated cycle lane.
Cyclists would also be allowed to ride against the flow of traffic on the adjacent Red Lion Square, which has a one-way system in place.
The video below, released by the council to coincide with the launch of the consultation, highlights some of the interventions already made in the area in recent years, such as banning the left turn for motor vehicles from Vernon Place onto Southampton Row, as well as outlining the new measures now being proposed.
In the consultation, the council notes that its Transport Strategy 2019-2041 “has an objective ‘ to substantially reduce all road traffic casualties in Camden and progress towards zero Killed and Seriously Injured casualties’,” and says that “it is imperative that we make more changes to reduce the risk of injury or death around High Holborn, Drake Street and Procter Street.
“This is also an opportunity to make other ‘Healthy Street’ improvements in this area, including better pedestrian facilities, adding plants and trees, and giving bus journeys more priority,” the council added.
In March 2019, Transport for London (TfL) announced that Camden had successfully bid for funding of up to £9.48 million to make improvements for cyclists and pedestrians in the Holborn area, with match funding taking the total planned investment in the scheme to £12.6 million.
The funding was to have been made available under TfL’s Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme, but that was paused after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The crisis caused TfL’s income from tube and bus fares to plummet and saw it having to rely on short-term government handouts, typically agreed following acrimonious negotiations and announced at the last minute.
Earlier this year, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan admitted that TfL’s funding crisis meant that it was “extremely difficult” to find cash to pay for the safety improvements.
Referring to Ms Ali’s death, he said that TfL was “working hard with Camden Council to try and restart the wider project to make all parts of the gyratory safer, but the ongoing short term funding deals from the Government make planning and delivering complex schemes such as this extremely difficult.”
In the consultation launched earlier this week, Camden Council said: “We continue to work with Transport for London on wider improvements to the area (known as the Liveable Neighbourhood scheme), which will be subject to separate consultation, but we want to make some more urgent road safety changes now.”
It added: “As 69 per cent of households in Camden do not own a car and public transport use remains much lower than before the pandemic, we know that safe and easy walking, cycling and scooting routes are more important than ever.
“Supporting and encouraging those who are able to walk and cycle, by creating safer streets will ensure that there is more space available on public transport and on our roads for those who need it the most.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.