Tavi Place public meeting – the follow up

Camden officials gave a detailed run down of the reasons behind the Tavistock Place trial at the MA organised public meeting on Monday night (19th September), and fielded some tough questions from residents, both for and against. We’re grateful for their time. Here’s our follow up to some of the issues covered …

Have enough people been informed about the consultation?

More efforts are being made to distribute the consultation document, with Camden telling us that more targeted deliveries and more notices in the affected streets are on their way.

What measurements has Camden done, and how?

The consultation document can also be found here. It contains a lot of numbers, with figures on cycling, walking and motor traffic, both before and after the trial, during peak morning, lunch time, and peak evening hours. The counting of motor vehicles took place on 12th May 2015 and 17th May 2016. Cyclists were counted in March 2015 and June 2016.

There were questions at the public meeting about why these dates were chosen. They are in similar times of year, outside of school holidays or Easter, so they offer a good basis for comparison – although it does seem to us that the cycling counts could have been closer together as there are likely to be more cyclists in June than March.

There is also data on air pollution, measured in terms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air. These measurements cover a three month period between July and November 2015,  before the trial, and seven months from December 2015 to June 2016 during the trial. It isn’t entirely clear in the document but we understand the measures given are for the average amount of nitrogen dioxide pollution over the whole period. Some people at the meeting questioned the reliability of these measurements – here’s Camden’s answer on that one: –

“Camden uses a range of different types of equipment to monitor nitrogen dioxide emissions (the main pollutant of concern in Central London, due to its effects on human health).  The device used at Russell Square is an automatic reference method monitor.  Data from this equipment is sent directly to King’s College London, who are contracted by the Greater London Authority to manage London’s Air Quality Network.  King’s College then relays the findings to the Council (this data is publicly available). King’s are recognised experts in this field, and London’s air quality network is one of the most advanced in the world.  The monitors in Gordon Square and Tavistock Place are mobile real time monitors.  The data from these devices is held on a server at a specialist environmental management company.  Camden’s air quality officer then accesses this server remotely to download the data.”

Do the data tell us anything we haven’t seen for ourselves?

Certainly air quality campaigners, cyclists and local residents supporting the new road layout have seized on the falls in pollution, especially the 21% reduction on Tavistock Place itself, which provide clear evidence of what a dramatic improvement reducing motor traffic can have on air quality. The cuts in pollution on Russell Square and Gordon Square  are less but still significant. Cycling has increased on what was already the busiest route for bikes in Camden, with an extra 100 cyclists heading west on Tavistock Place during the morning peak hours, and over 80 more in the evening heading east.

Wow interesting to see an up to 21% improvement in from Tavistock Place cycling trial – fall in poisonous nitrogen dioxide


Others will point to the increase in traffic on the main North-South routes as a cost too high for the improvement on Tavistock Place – though the picture is not entirely even. Judd St has seen a 58% increase in morning peak period traffic heading north – an extra 146 vehicles in one hour; though the increase is a lower 11% (36 vehicles in the hour) in the evening. Woburn Place north-bound traffic was 19% higher in the morning but actually 8% lower in the evening; whilst the increase in traffic on Endsleigh St was 166% in the morning (113 vehicles) and over 200% (156 more) during the evening hour (though as some have pointed out, this is likely to be partly due to the closure of Gordon Sq north for the entire period). Of course these measurements don’t take account of how long vehicles spend sitting in traffic.

The one surprise we’ve noticed is Guilford St – where there has been less traffic throughout the day. This is interesting since those with long memories will recall that one of the objections to the original design of the cycle way on Tavistock Place was the fear it would increase traffic outside Coram’s Fields.

Do residents’ views matter?

We asked the Council whether people passing through the area that do not live or work here have an equal right to comment on the proposals. The answer came: “We welcome comments from people passing through the area as well as those living or working there. We will analyse the consultation responses by postcode so that we can distinguish between the level of support (or not) for the scheme from local residents and businesses and from people from outside the area. Recommendations from officers on whether or not the scheme should become permanent will take this distinction into account.”

So there you have it – yes, resident views (for and against) matter, but Camden will be taking into account the responses.it receives from wider London as well.


Tavistock / Torrington consultation out

We now know the question Camden Council is putting to us in the Tavistock / Torrington consultation. Just the two choices….

Would you like the current street layout (with a cycle track on each side of the street and one-way, mainly eastbound, motor traffic) to become permanent? If made permanent, improvements would be made, including wider pavements and stepped cycle tracks to replace the rubber blocks used in the trial.


Would you like the street to return to its pre-trial layout (two motor traffic lanes and one two-way cycle track)?

This is something of a surprise as many were expecting the Council to come out with a preferred option. But the consultation webpage simply says, “Feedback received and data collected during the trial, along with the results of the consultation, will be considered when making a decision.”

Detailed data on the trial results can be found here including traffic counts for cycling, pedestrians and motor traffic before and during the trial.

The consultation runs from 12 September to 21 October, with drop in sessions at Camden Town Hall (Judd St), Committee Room 3 on Thursday 22 September (12 noon to 2pm) and Wednesday 12 October (6.30 to 8.30pm)



Residents and cyclists meet to discuss Tavi Place

Ahead of the MA organised public meeting on Tavistock Place – to be held on 19th September at the Lumen Church – three committee members from Bloomsbury Residents Action Group (BRAG) recently met with representatives from Camden Cyclists, to discuss respective views on the traffic trial.

Richenda Walford of Camden Cyclists – also a local resident – writes:-

“It was a very friendly and useful meeting with a lot of common ground being agreed.   CC presented some maps which give a holistic view of the streets in our area.  The maps show how the traffic would work if all three of the current proposals that Camden is planning were to be  implemented – not just the Tavistock Place scheme but also the ban on left-turning from Judd St into Euston Rd, and the plans for closing Lansdowne Terrace to through motor traffic.


Combined these measures should substantially reduce the volume of motor vehicle traffic in the area bounded by Euston Rd, Grays Innd Rd, Guilford St and Woburn Place – greatly benefitting residents and all of those who travel into the area to work and to study. It would also leave residents free to use a taxi or their car when they need to make journeys in and out of the area.  In LCC’s experience changes like these usually result in more people walking or cycling instead of using motor transport – so motor traffic levels drop even further.

Ahead of the public meeting, Camden Cyclists’ want to share these maps with everyone in the area – you can find them here: http://camdencyclists.org.uk/2016/08/motor-traffic-congestion-in-judd-street/

Tavi Place – public meeting reminder

A reminder that the Marchmont Association has organised a public meeting to allow local people to have their say about Camden Council’s proposed improvements for walking and cycling along theTorrington Place/Tavistock Place route. The meeting will be held on Monday 19th September from 7pm (doors open 6.45pm) at Lumen Church, 88 Tavistock Place, WC1H 9RS (close to Regent Square).


The Council’s Transport Planners have been asked to present their proposals for “Torrington Place/Tavistock Place route: proposed improvements for walking and cycling”, based on the outcome of their analysis of the one-year trial scheme, which ends in November 2016. This will be followed by Questions and Answers, before the meeting is opened up for debate.

Camden Council will have distributed their formal consultation documents prior to this meeting, giving interested parties prior notice of the proposals, which will enable them to come to the meeting with their prepared questions. Everyone will be given the opportunity to speak and we will be asking speakers to declare their interest, e.g. resident, business, cyclist, motorist, pedestrian etc.

We intend to hold a ‘straw poll’ at the end of the meeting in order to gauge the level of support or opposition to the proposals.


Hotel group and taxi drivers make Tavi Place proposals

Further Tavistock Place ideas ….. for those that missed it, the exhibition run by Imperial London Hotels last week-end, with support from the ‘Mayfair Mob’ taxi drivers, proposed – as we predicted – a return to the pre-trial set-up.

MV has searched in vain for any details of the proposals online. In their absence, the main details are: –

• A continuous bi-directional cycle lane between Judd Street and Malet Street, on the northbound side of the road – but on a wider lane (4m) than the 2m that existed before the trial. The carriageway would theefore be reduced from 8.5m pre-trial to 5.5m.
• Return to two-way traffic between Woburn Place and Malet Street. Traffic between Judd St and Woburn Place would remain one-way east-bound.

Exhibition boards_finalproof

The exhibition also presented a second option, of keeping the one-way traffic movement, but switching it to west-bound only.

The organisers were running a survey at the event and will no doubt tell us what it found soon. They are also talking to LB Camden about their ideas and would like them adopted as the Council’s preferred option when it goes out to consultation in early September  –  though worth noting that Cllr Phil Jones tweeted this ….

poor quality proposals designed to prioritise taxis over others


BRAG: looking for local traffic solutions

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.”

 Nicky Coates

Chair, Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group

Email info@brag.org.uk



Unsticking the Judd Jam

Over the last two weeks of May Camden Cyclists investigated the evening rush-hour ‘Judd jam’, carrying out some traffic counts  to understand it and suggesting some solutions. They acknowledge their counts are small and, compared with official counts, very rough and ready – but they match what lots of us will have seen happening ourselves.

Their report has been forwarded to Marchmont Voice – here it is …

The jam is caused by the large number of motor vehicles wanting to turn west from Judd into Euston Road. The lights give priority to Euston Road, a red route, which allows for only 2 or 3 Judd vehicles to get through for each cycle of the lights. Thus the traffic backs up on Judd Street.

The traffic travelling N on Judd is primarily coming from traffic travelling westbound (WB) on Guilford Street, though some comes from WB traffic on Tavistock Place (ratio approx. 77/23). Though we have no counts to confirm it, we believe that the majority of this traffic comes from Gray’s Inn Road and that it is using Judd as the final part of a rat-run to avoid the King’s Cross junction.

The WB traffic on Guilford that does not go N to join the Judd jam carries on to Russell Square where it either turns N to join the Woburn jam or S (to go places we did not investigate). The N/S ratio is approx. 43/57 but we think that is a false reading since the NB traffic on this lights-controlled junction is so heavy that, if the Guilford NB traffic respects the yellow box, the lights can run through multiple cycles with no NB traffic getting across (despite all the hooting from behind). We suspect that much of the traffic that turns S is actually destined for the N but trying another route (such as all the way around Russell Square).

* In our count for the N turn onto Woburn we included the small number of vehicles that use Herbrand and Coram as a rat-run through to Woburn. See the evidence here

* The WB Tavi traffic turns N onto Judd by using the Wakefield / Handel dogleg.

* The WB Guilford traffic turns N towards Judd by using the Lansdowne / Brunswick dogleg.

Drivers are willing to sit in traffic jams for long periods of time, making the street environment for residents and other road users extremely unpleasant. From the behaviour we witnessed we believe that many drivers are continuously reassessing their route, selecting from possible options at each junction, based on the weight of traffic they see ahead. In the evening rush-hour this area suffers from traffic trying to travel north or west and, like water, it finds its own level, filling all possible routes equally to the detriment of all.

Possible solutions

One idea might be to change the traffic light sequence at the Judd/Euston junction to give more time to the flow from Judd. However that would reduce the flow from the east along Euston Road, which would result in a greater build-up on Gray’s Inn Road, which some drivers would avoid by choosing the Judd route, and so it would all end up the same as before the change to the lights. So that would not solve anything, and would only tend to enforce the idea that Judd should be taking this level of traffic.

TfL and Camden have already decided which roads can take heavy rush-hour traffic – see this page 22 of the Camden Transport Strategy. In this area these include: Gray’s Inn Road, Euston Road, Woburn Place. And does not include: Judd Street, Tavistock Place, Guilford Street, let alone Wakefield, Handel, Lansdowne, Brunswick, Herbrand, Coram.


North and West bound traffic is using these local streets are if they were part of the SRN. TfL and Camden need to redirect that traffic back onto the SRN. Our suggestions would be to implement some or all of the following:

• Close the left turn from Judd onto Euston,

• Close the Wakefield / Handel dogleg to through traffic,

• Close the Lansdowne / Brunswick dogleg to through traffic,

• Close the Herbrand and Coram rat-run.

TfL and Camden have already consulted on traffic schemes which would achieve some of these measures and we hope they can quickly implement something to resolve the traffic problems in this area.