Tag Archives: Central London Grid

New census data argues for more active street designs.

Our roads are designed for driving, but we walk and cycle far more.

Last week, new census data was released highlighting where people work and how they get there. Then the wonderful people at CASA.UCL made a map for us simpletons to easily see what is happening.

The data is quite extraordinary. Having crunched the numbers, its clear that the overwhelming majority of Clerkenwell and Bunhill residents walk and cycle than get the bus or drive.

  • 6483:   Walk or Cycle
  • 3335:   Bus
  • 234:      Car or Taxi

Of course, this isn’t a completely full travel picture: we all vary our travel routines, and it’s just working age adults commuting, but it is undoubtedly indicative of general trends.

There are two lessons from this fascinating data set:

1. Many journeys by bus and car could easily be walked or cycled (proven by our neighbours making the same journeys).

2. There is now an overwhelming argument to use TfL’s £2m to make cycling and walking the most convenient, obvious modes of travel in the area. Islington Council pioneered 20mph zones, and now they have a strong mandate to develop the most liveable streets in London.

With careful planning and a few planters or “modal filters”, we could cheaply and easily re-focus our streets to reflect the growing demand for active travel. Our planned layout can be seen here:

Please get in touch to add your voice of support for our plans, or to hear more about our work, please do get in touch through

https://www.facebook.com/IslingtonCyclistsActionGroup or






A constructive solution for Beech St

Beech St. Cyclists Dismount

Dear Messrs Simmons and Presland,

I am writing to you regarding the current changes to the street layout at the Beech St/Silk St junction. The aim seems to be to widen the pavement and simplify the pedestrian crossings outside the new Barbican cinema, according to your website; https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/transport-and-streets/traffic-management/Pages/silk-street-enhancement-works.aspx

As a member of the Barbican, I welcome these changes to what has been a very unsatisfactory street layout. It is quite a positive step in creating a more attractive place.

However, I can’t help but notice that the worst bits of Beech St will remain: the ear splitting noise reverberating around the tunnel, air pollution that drips from the ceiling, and pavements so narrow that I am frequently forced onto the road at busy times when walking between the station and gallery. So a while small fragment of the street-scape may become more attractive,  it really seems a missed opportunity for creating a pleasant, healthy, or “liveable” environment

More dispiriting and perplexing though is that the pavement changes come at such a high cost to cycling along Beech St.  Whereas a month ago, people could cycle in their own, dedicated cycle lane all the way to the Whitecross St junction (going east), they will now be dangerously squeezed into the motor traffic as we can see in the picture below.

Beech St Cycle Lane End

So my 60 year old dad will probably no longer be willing to cycle along Beech St – which up to now has been one of only a handful of routes he is happy to use, precisely because he isn’t required to share the road. Having finally persuaded him to get back onto his bike after 30 years of driving, this is a blow to my skills of persuasion and to his health.

This damaging impact on the cycle lane is important. Beech St provides the only east-west cycle route through the city. The Central London Cycling Grid,  London’s vision for a network of quiet, welcoming cycle network really does rely on this route as seen in TfL’s map of the grid.

Grid with Beech St

More bizarre still, is that Beech St cycle lane has been so successful. As Mr Gilligan wrote in 2007, the City won an award for the lane from TfL. And the scheme was improved further in 2012 to much acclaim as seen in this blog and this video .

Indeed, this bike lane has helped Beech St see cyclists make up 20% of traffic and 30% in peak hours (almost certainly understimated), and these numbers would probably be higher if Chiswell St (immediately to the east of Beech st) had any provision for cyclists.

You may have seen that others have criticised your scheme here and here.

Without wanting to add to their flames too much, I urge you to consider a constructive solution. There is a way for the City of London to go beyond these aesthetic changes and create a more environmentally pleasant environment that is genuinely conducive to walking and cycling.

My solution? Keep doing what you are doing right now: keep the road closed.

During the building work, we have all seen how little traffic there is on Beech St and the other roads that spoke out from the junction. Indeed, it was bliss to walk through the tunnel, for the first time being able to hear my friend speaking about the gallery as we walked to the station. Cycling along Chiswell St felt safe and civilised, such was the transformation.

I hope you agree that the benefits of closing the road to through traffic permanently are extensive. Only a bus bollard is needed to let the 153 through, to filter other motor traffic out. The traffic could use London Wall instead, which according to DFT traffic counts, has seen a reduction of c.30% traffic since 2004.

Although this would only be a small change, I appreciate there may be concerns about the impact of traffic displacement from such a modal filtering scheme, but I hope you agree that with the road closed now, we have the perfect opportunity to do a trial and gather empirical evidence for what the effects would be.  My own hypothesis, would be that it would greatly improve traffic flows around Moorgate, Smithfield, and north into Islington which all suffer from too much traffic and high pollution.

I look forward to discussing my constructive proposal to this scheme and other quietways at the City Cycling Forum, 31st July.

Yours faithfully,


Tom Harrison, Committee Member for Islington Cyclists

Quietway Consultation is open. Deadline 5 April.


The consultation for the Quietway Route from Bloomsbury to Walthomstow is now live and can be found here

ICAG have had a number of meetings with the council to discuss the plans.

There are some big improvements planned, such as improving Owen St by City and Islington college.

But unfortunately, as it was a pilot route, the council didn’t have the time to develop the more ambitious proposals we feel are needed, such as removing rat running motor vehicles.

The primary benefit of the works will be upgraded signage and improved visibility at some junctions by moving parking.

We would really encourage you to respond to the consultation and request they make the more substantial changes needed for safe cycling when future funding becomes available (eg with the next round of quietways).

If you live near the route, and would like to help get more improvements, please get in touch with tom(at)icag.org.uk

We would particularly like to hear from people who currently don’t cycle to get their views on the current conditions, so do send them our way.

Getting the Quietways underway for a more liveable Islington


The junction of two quietways. Amwell St and River St. There is so much potential to create something that benefits cyclists and the Amwell village residents.

Those of you who were at our ICAG meeting with Andrew Gilligan, or heard him speak at the end of the London Cycling Campaign’s Big Ride last month will be eagerly awaiting a new network of quiet routes. Aimed to attract a more comfortable, less lycra intensive cycle style across the capital.

As the grapevine buzzes with speculation about what we can expect from these “quietways”, we wanted to share what we know so far in order to start a discussion around what changes we want to see to attract “inclusive cycling” and ensure the proposals benefit all residents, whether or not they are regular cyclists.

Before diving into the detail, it’s worth bearing in mind a few extra principles:

  • Transport planning like this poses a wonderful opportunity to add value to the wider public realm than just being cycle friendly: by re-routing traffic, we can make streets quieter, create public spaces in the heart of residential areas, reduce pollution. With the right measures, streets can become nicer for everyone, especially local residents, cafes, pubs, and shops. In short, with the right imagination, these schemes aren’t just for cyclists, but promise to create more liveable streets for all Islingtonians.
  • It would be good if we can get to the route: far more people can benefit if the “quiet” route can be comfortably accessed by streets not directly on the route. We therefore need to think not just about the route itself, but the area surrounding it too – often known in the jargon as a “cell.”
  • We, as members of The London Cycling Campaign recognise that for a cycle route to be adequate it needs to be separated from other traffic, either by kerb segregation, or by reducing the amount of traffic on streets.

So, what’s the plan so far?

There are two routes that we expect to be developed first. The first, currently called “Quietway 38” is set to run between Southgate Rd/Northchurch St in the east to Calthorpe St in the west.The second, (as yet untitled) will go between Finsbury Square and up through Penton St.

No detailed plans have emerged so far, but initial suggestions from the council were for

  • traffic signal alterations
  • traffic management improvements
  • cycle facility upgrades
  • surface repairs
  • cycle contraflow lanes

A map of the the first route is below:

View Quietway Route 38 in Islington in a larger map

We’ve colour coded where we think the priorities are for changes to make the routes acceptable.

  • Red shows streets which dont need any change.
  • Light Blue denotes the route is pretty good but could be better.
  • Dark blue shows where there is currently too much traffic and changes are required.
  • Green highlights where other desire lines or planned routes intersect Quietway 38, such as on Amwell St for the route from Finsbury Square.

Since there probably isn’t the space to install segregated tracks, a few strategic “filters” or planters to close through traffic would be all that is needed make a much more pleasant walking and cycling environment. This approach is tried and tested already along the route, helping De Beauvoir to be one of the most pleasant places to live and travel through in London.


Image borrowed from Vincent Stops, http://cycleandwalkhackney.blogspot.co.uk/2013_03_01_archive.html
London’s most famous and successful 4 way road closure creates bliss for residents, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. This scheme in Hackney is also part of Quietway 38, and we could do something similar in Islington.

For more detail on what changes we suggest are made, click on the link for the larger map. If you agree or disagree , please get in touch and join the debate.

Two really exciting, innovative changes for us are the potential to create public squares in the heart of both Amwell and St Peters. By installing cheap bollards, “pocket plazas” can quickly appear, as recently occurred in Exhibition Row (pictured below). What’s more, done correctly, traffic does not need to be pushed onto other residential roads.


Closing small sections of streets to through traffic allows a liveable public area to grow as happened here in Kensington.
Could this come to Amwell St and St Peters St? Closing small sections of streets to through traffic allows a liveable public area to grow as happened here in Kensington.

Best of all for Islington Council, are proposals are incredibly cheap: TfL have allocated £1m/mile for the quietway network, which works out at £1.5m for Quietway 38 in Islngton. But our measures would probably cost less than £50,000.

We would love to continue the discussion, with cyclists and “non cyclists” alike, so please get in touch by commenting below, or through facebook or twitter @IslingtonCycle

Islington #space4cycling Ride, Saturday 10th May



Saturday 10th May

Photo by Victor Heng
Photo by Victor Heng
Photo by Victor Heng
Photo by Victor Heng

This is the press release that was sent to The Islington Gazette and The Tribune

On Saturday May 10th, Islington Cyclists Action Group took to the
streets and visited locations that are difficult or dangerous for
cyclists to negotiate. The group ended up at the Town Hall (photos
below). The group is asking candidates to support specific measures in
each ward which will enable everyone to feel safe on a bike, from
8-year-old children to 80-year-old grandparents. Voters can find out
more about the measures at the Space for Cycling website

Tom Harrison (ICAG) said “One of the simplest and most effective
actions the council could do is make the roads safer and more
comfortable for older people to walk and cycle. This means separating
walking and cycling routes from busy traffic areas by closing
residential streets to through traffic, installing more seating areas,
and providing protected cycle tracks on busy roads which makes the
streets navigable by those of us with slower reaction speeds.”

John Ackers said “There are still councillors that regard cycling as a
niche activity for relatively fit people. But  actually cycling
is for everybody and it’s the answer to many of the borough’s
problems. Cycling improves people’s long term health, reduces
congestion, reduces air pollution, reduces obesity, reduces travel
costs and encourages social cohesion. We can learn much from
Copenhagen and Amsterdam.”


Join us on a ride from The Sobell Centre to the Town Hall

women cycling

Show your support and celebrate #space4cycling

The route of the Islington #space4cycling ride.
The route of the Islington #space4cycling ride.

Next Saturday, 10th May, join us to celebrate what #space4cycling really means!

We are asking candidates to support specific measures in each ward which will enable everyone to feel safe on a bike, from 8-year-old children to 80-year-old grandparents.  Join the Islington LCC on a ride as we visit some of the sites where we’re asking for change.

We’ll be meeting at the Sobell Centre for a 9.30 breakfast (free pastries!). The ride starts at 10.00 and will finish at 12.00 outside the Town Hall.

If you can’t join us on the ride itself, just turn up at the Town Hall at 12 to show your support for #space4cycling in Islington!

Can you put up a poster about this on a notice board?  Download here A4 Little Islington Ride

Or is there a place where you can leave fliers?  Download A5 fliers here A5 Little Islington Ride

And don’t forget to go online and ask candidates to pledge their support for our campaign. http://space4cycling.org/

Ride itinerary

09.30 — Breakfast at Sobell Centre
10.00 — Ride begins

1. Seven Sisters Road
2. Drayton Park
3. St. Peter’s
4. Bunhill Row
5. Clerkenwell Boulevard
6. Islington Town Hall

12.00 — Ride ends

Space4Cycling Little Event Poster

Andrew Gilligan confers with ICAG

The Mayor’s Cycling czar Andrew Gilligan returned to Islington on 13th March 2014 and confers with a packed ICAG meeting

Andrew Gilligan at March 2014 ICAG meeting
Andrew Gilligan at March 2014 ICAG meeting


Andrew opened by saying that just because there is nothing to see yet doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. He gave an overview of what he’s been doing so far (e.g. battling with TfL to drive down costs and use of expensive materials unnecessarily, lots of discussions with stakeholders, trying to get legislative changes to traffic signage and revising the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) about to be published soon). Proposals that do not meet the LCDS would have TfL funding withheld, although the boroughs could pay for. He assured us that if there was an under spend this year the money would be used next year and most work would take place in 2015-16. The capacity of the inner London ring road (in Islington Pentonville Road and City Road) will be maintained as it will take traffic displaced  due to new schemes.


Andrew is pleased with the London Borough of Islington’s (LBI) plans for the central London grid but their plans for Quietways aren’t all he would like to see. Quietways are being designed for use by 12 year olds on low traffic routes with no right turns across traffic. Some may follow the London Cycle Network (LCN) routes and they’ll be named after bus or tubes routes. In Islington one of first will be Quietway 38, roughly following the 38 bus route from Bloomsbury to Hackney using Calthorpe Street with a cycle contra-flow in Lloyd Baker Street. Andrew mentioned the possibility of closing Colebrooke Row to motor traffic and said a lot of pressure would have to come from local groups. Another one will be called Victoria and will roughly follow the Victoria line going along Amwell Street, Thornhill Road and Drayton Park. A third will be Quietway 141 using Highbury New Park. LBI had suggested York Way and Market Road as part of one but Andrew refused it. In some places Quietways went through poorly lit streets and this would be addressed.

Clerkenwell Boulevard

In the morning rush hour on Theobald Road most vehicles are bikes (64%) and on Old Street it’s 49%. LBI, Camden and Hackney all have funding for a study as the main concern is where the traffic will go. The streets are borough roads and part of the strategic road network. Andrew wants to proceed one step at a time as he doesn’t want a backlash in the boroughs worrying about losing votes if it is seen as unpopular and forced through. The Midtown business consortium is keen but Andrew couldn’t give a timeframe.

Tufnell Park Cycles to School

Andrew was non-committal about this as he had plans from several boroughs and had to go through each of them. He wanted one that would make a splash as there was not much money available and the idea had always been for routes to school to be a pilot with a small number of schemes which boroughs could increase if they were seen to be a success.

Cycle superhighways (CSHs) and gyratories

Andrew has seen plans for Archway about nine months ago and agreed with ICAG that they were poor. He also felt the proposals for the Nag’s Head weren’t quite right and asked ICAG to send him our comments. He wanted to
the route from King’s Cross to extend along York Way and along Camden Road to Finsbury Park.
Andrew said the CSH along Holloway Road had been canned, for several reasons including what to do at Highbury Corner as Upper Street was not good for cycling and that they could not afford to fund 12 CSHs as they were expensive because more had to be done in London to protect cyclists. Instead the present proposal was to use Hornsey Road and Sussex Way. In a spontaneous outcry, the meeting expressed the view that Holloway Road was the spine of the borough and should be improved for cycling rather than Hornsey Road, which Andrew Gilligan seemed happy to take away. Most felt Upper Street was not too bad to cycle along and that Liverpool Road was an alternative. It was suggested that it could be relatively easy for TfL to make Holloway Road 20mph and Andrew said it wasn’t always a panacea but that we should send him a brief proposal. Andrew was told that due to a develop on Holloway Road there was the opportunity for cycle access into Biddestone Road which would open up a quiet link towards Camden but which LBI seemed reluctant to take the opportunity. He asked ICAG to send him details of that and any other LBI schemes in which the cyclists cause needed to be

The CSH from Kings Cross would not go use the whole length of Farringdon Road and instead would use Saffron Hill and Herbal Hill, the latter becomes very narrow. Many at the meeting felt that all of Farringdon Road should be used as it was not too narrow and there was only one bus route along it. It was felt that some information must be available on traffic flows whilst part of Farringdon Road was closed due to Crossrail construction and Andrew said he would find out.

Law enforcement

Andrew was asked about what was being done about drivers that killed cyclists. He said although the mayor had no power over the criminal justice system there was a sentencing unit that monitored the sentencefor various crimes, including dangerous driving, around the London courts and created pressure for more consistent and appropriate sentencing. The two month Safeway initiative had not just targeted cyclists and found that a quarter to a third of the HGVs stopped had been non-compliant with safety legislation. It was too expensive to continue Safeway but it would
be repeated for shorter periods, probably three days a month. The Safer Transport Command unit was ensuring thorough collection of evidence took place in all cases of fatalities and some serious injury cases so that prosecutions could be pursued.

Traffic modelling

Andrew was asked about traffic modelling and vehicle capacity at junctions. Andrew agreed that the signals modelling seemed to have a disproportionate say in the design of schemes although he appreciated that a holistic approach was required. He was also asked how TfL decides what would be a ‘destination’ and where cyclists want to go and he said he felt partly that if they built schemes cyclists would use them.

The canal

Andrew confirmed that the canal towpath on the central section (i.e. Islington bit) of the Regent’s canal will not be used for any Quietway routes so there will be no funding from that budget, although other TfL funding might be available. He did not want to stop cyclists using the canal but he would not encourage it.

Islington’s bit of the Central London Grid

Islington section of the Central London Grid
Islington section of the Central London Grid

Here’s What Tfl and Islington Council have proposed

As part of the Mayor’s Cycling Vision, Islington Council has proposed the following quietways which will form part of the Central London Grid.

Routes proposed LBI for feasibility and design studies

Route 1 – Clerkenwell Road – Old Street Roundabout

Wards – Bunhill, Clerkenwell

Measures to be considered include: cycle lane segregation, alterations to bus lanes and stops along the wider sections of the route and an assessment of signalised junctions for cycle facility improvements.

Route 2 – Penton Street, Amwell Street, Rosoman Street, Skinner Street, Percival Street, Lever Street, Bath Street, Bunhill Row, Chiswell Street, Finsbury Square

Wards – Bunhill, Clerkenwell, Barnsbury

Measures may include: traffic signals alterations, traffic management improvements and cycle facility upgrades.

Route 3 – Lloyd Baker Street (& Wharton St), River St, Myddleton Sq, Chadwell St, Owen St, Colebrook Row, Gerrad Rd Burgh St, Arlington Avenue

Wards – Clerkenwell, Bunhill, St Peter’s

Measures may include: surface repairs, provision of cycle contraflow lanes and traffic management improvements.

Route 4 – Vincent Tce, Graham St, Central St, Golden Lane, Banner St, Featherstone St, Leonard St

Wards – St Peter’s, Bunhill

Measures may include: traffic management measures and the provision of improved cycle facilities.

Route 5 – St John Street

Wards – Clerkenwell, Bunhill

Measures may include: surface repairs and the provision of cycle lanes. The scheme includes a review and assessment of signalised junctions along the route.

Route 6 – Ray St, Farringdon Lane, Turnmill St, Cowcross Street

Wards – Clerkenwell

This route links to TfL’s proposed north / south cycle superhighway. Measures may include: the provision of traffic signal improvements, contraflow cycle lane provision and road safety improvements along the route.

Route 7 – Wharfedale Rd, Killick St, Collier St, Donegal St

Wards – Caledonian, Barnsbury

Measures may include: a road closure, cycle permeability, segregated cycle lanes and TfL signal upgrades.


Here’s what we have said to TfL (Feb 14th 2014)

We have set up a google spreadsheet [Tom’s Grid thoughts] with our thoughts about each of the routes in the grid. In addition there are recommended interventions plus some additional routes. It’s not easy to view so we’d be happy to provide it in a different format. Our views about the Islington section of the Central London grid are slow evolving and we expect to update this speadsheet over the next few weeks.

We also have a [this] web page where we expect to collect more comments over the next few weeks.

Cycling on the vast majority of the streets is very unpleasant and scary. While it might not be all that dangerous statistically speaking on all roads, many people are put off because of cars and vans parking in the path of cyclists, people unexpectedly opening doors, people in cars going too fast down side streets to avoid main roads, and the general speed, noise, and pollution that roads with lots of traffic have.

We like bold interventions such as filtered permeability which can be very cost effective, or alternatively light (Royal College Street style) segregation that enables people of all ages and abilities to get on to a bike.  We do not like the small incremental changes often favoured by Islington Council.

We like the concept of the Clerkenwell Boulevard advocated by Andrea Casalotti. We recognise that this is a large scheme with significant challenges but there are enormous rewards especially for the many Hackney Cyclists that cycle from Old Street Roundabout into Central London.

Related links

Here is a google map with the routes overlaid. Purple is what LBI proposed to us, Orange is what Tom thinks we should add, light blue is key routes connecting into Islington.

London Cycling Campaign’s response to Central London Grid Feb 14th 2014