Is there a way out of the Judd St Jam? Lots of different local views on this – including, we have to say, on the newly expanded Marchmont Association Committee which met this week.
One of our new members Nicky Coates has set up a new group specifically to look at the traffic issues and has posted this introduction to it.
“We were interested to read the report from Camden Cyclists, and also heartened that others outside Judd Street (and the immediately surrounding smaller streets) have seen the newly created congestion chaos on Judd Street and are sympathetic about the detrimental impact this has had on local residents. But it is not, alas, only a rush hour phenomenon; solid traffic jams from Euston Road to Brunswick Square occur frequently at any time, often for many hours; we have had up to ten solid hours of idling traffic on Judd Street. We have discussed this with senior traffic officers and they recognise the severity of the problem and that there is no pattern to the jams.
The cause of the jams is indeed the large number of motor vehicles wanting to turn west from Judd Street into Euston Road; and the cause of the suddenly increased number of vehicles in Judd Street needing to turn west is the cutting off of the west-bound route in Tavistock Place. The traffic situation in Judd Street and the surrounding streets changed radically in one day – the day the west-bound route from Judd Street into Tavistock Place was closed; this is when the chaos started. This is understood by council officers and they are looking for solutions.
The change turned Judd Street into a street that is congested, highly polluted and dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. The chaos has also spread to all the surrounding streets. Before the change, for 30 years or more, traffic flowed well and there was room for all to use the space safely. Serious problems for cyclists on Judd Street only started when the Tavistock-Torrington trial was introduced – which was imposed without consulting local residents (although we know that others – non-residents – were consulted) and without even informing most residents; the change to our everyday lives has been a shock.
With regard to the counts referred to, we know that the council is also undertaking some spasmodic counting. But the counts will not, as has been acknowledged by the officers, record the stationary nature of the traffic and the hours of idling diesel engines (which can be not only smelt but tasted).
There is a risk that observers assume that all the traffic coming into the area is just passing through but this is not the case. It seems to be forgotten that there are several thousand residents in the area, as well as many small businesses, and all of these need access. The solutions suggested in the Camden Cyclists report – to cut off access to our area from the south and east as well as from the west and to close the one remaining route out to the west – are the measures that caused such consternation among local residents when the proposals were first announced.
Local people are concerned, upset and angry about this change, which has impacted massively on everyday life here. We are also concerned that additional changes which TfL and Camden may impose – in spite (as emerged at the 10th March public meeting) of there being little understanding or care as to the consequences for local people – will further damage our community. We were told by officers at the public meeting that the computer modelling had not foreseen the traffic chaos that the Tavistock-Torrington trial would cause; it is therefore difficult to have any confidence in other plans based on the same computer modelling system. The council should be listening to local people who know how local traffic flows and who have ideas about how to improve things.
So, in response to local demand, we have set up a new residents’ association – Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group (BRAG) – whose first task will be to tackle the traffic problems and, crucially, make local voices heard. We encompass residents who are cyclists, pedestrians and people with mobility problems who need access to cars and taxis for everyday life. Our core philosophy is that residents matter; we are the voters and the council tax-payers and we seem to be forgotten in the grand plans being imposed around us. I will post more details of BRAG shortly.
Many in our group are cyclists and safety for cyclists is a major part of our focus. We need a better solution for cyclists, for pedestrians and for residents, and we are going to be working hard to find one.”
Chair, Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group