London’s Mayoral Candidates respond to Child Safety Fears due to Archway Gyratory Enlargement

In March 2016, we asked the London Mayoral candidates an important question:

Local groups are asking for:

  1. retaining a right turn from St John’s Way to avoid rat-runs through residential streets and substantial increases in traffic past nurseries and schools and
  2. buses to run to the Whittington Hospital/Upper Holloway Station. TfL has rejected this thus far for reasons varying from journey times, junction efficiencies and space constraints, despite the fact architects and planners have proposed ways these technicalities can be resolved. For details, please see Archway background with chronology attached.

If you are elected as London Mayor in May, what steps would you take to address these concerns? 

They all responded:

CAROLINE PIDGEON, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS, SAYS:

“While supporting the principle of removing the gyratory, I have serious concerns about the details. Work should be paused pending a review, with particular focus on reconsidering:

  • Bus stands placed on Archway Road, with 50+ U-turns an hour
  • No right turn from St. John’s Way
  • Traffic levels on Vorley Road

 This is also a good opportunity to examine about whether some bus routes can go via Whittington Hospital to improve access to it and I have asked Transport for London to consider this.”

SIAN BERRY, GREEN PARTY, SAYS:

“Archway was the place I first lived in London and I now represent nearby Highgate Ward in Camden. Alongside Greens in Islington and on the London Assembly I’ve supported a project to get the traffic-dominated Archway gyratory removed and a quality public space created in its place for many years, including putting it in my 2008 manifesto when I last stood for Mayor of London. Giving more priority to walking, to a quality public transport interchange, to people spending time in the area and to people cycling – at the expense of road space for motor vehicles – is a big step forward in the current plans.

However, the details of all schemes like this are important to get right and it is disappointing that Transport for London has not made certain changes that would have removed completely the one-way system and cut the risk of creating new rat-runs and increasing traffic past the children’s centre on Vorley Road, despite strong calls from the community.

My colleague Councillor Caroline Russell in Islington has called for this to be looked at again and has helped organise meetings between Better Archway and Whitehall Park residents and TfL. She has also called for empty bus running to be eliminated by running buses to points of demand such as the Whittington Hospital. I joined her recently at the children’s centre to warn of the increased pollution that would be suffered by the very young Londoners there.

As Mayor I wouldn’t want to delay the project, but would look again at the option of completing the main layout changes without making the details of all the traffic movements permanently fixed until other options, including allowing right turns from St John’s Way, were tested on a temporary basis.

If we did this, I don’t believe the right turn would necessarily cause the longer journey times or new traffic on side streets predicted by TfL’s models. As with similar projects to create space for cycling elsewhere in London, car trips tend to ‘evaporate’ when road space changes are made to make places better to walk and cycle to and from and, with strong community support, I believe we could find a way to make these options work if we were more flexible with this project.”

ZAC GOLDSMITH, CONSERVATIVE PARTY, SAYS:

“As Mayor I will always work with boroughs to make sure that the views of residents are heard and represented. 

I have looked carefully at the plans for Archway and can see residents are concerned to see the retention of the right turn from St John’s Way.  TfL may need to look again at their plans to make sure the proposals work for the benefit of the majority of road users, residents and businesses. 

If I am elected Mayor I will make sure we get this right so that the proposals work for local road users, residents and businesses.  My Action Plan for Greater London will keep London moving by continuing to invest in infrastructure and tackling congestion in Archway.”

SADIQ KHAN, LABOUR PARTY, SAYS:

“Many thanks for your email to Sadiq on the subject of the Archway gyratory.

TfL have an ongoing programme to remove gyratory systems, many of which were installed in the 1960s and 1970s. The aim is to make major junctions safer for cars, cyclists and pedestrians and generally improve the local environment. I believe this is the right approach.

Of course, it is absolutely crucial that any proposals are developed in full with local residents, and that there is a full and open public consultation process. This maximises the chance of problems being ironed out.

Your email raises two specific concerns – the right turn from St John’s Way and buses running to and from the Whittington Hospital/Upper Holloway Station. It is Sadiq’s understanding that Islington Council, together with TfL, will be carefully monitoring any changes in traffic movements in the area. In the event that additional changes are needed, further public consultation will be carried out. On buses, Islington Council have asked TfL to continue to look at this, but it is a decision for TfL and the Whittington Hospital. If Sadiq is elected in May, he will ask TfL to look again closely at this.”

Press Release “Steamrolling through Archway”

1st Feb 2016

More than 1,000 Islington and Haringey residents have signed petitions calling on Transport for London to re-think its controversial plan for the Archway gyratory.

TfL’s works are due to start today, February 1st, continuing until summer 2017. A public protest is planned in Archway for Saturday, February 6th .

The protests focus on two aspects of the plan: the relocation of bus stands to the bottom of Archway Road, and the banning of the right turn from St John’s Way to Highgate Hill and Archway Road.

Residents and parents are alarmed that TfL is pressing ahead with construction despite concerns expressed at public consultations and meetings. The proposals will mean:

  • Routing up to 120 additional vehicles an hour through Vorley Road , just inches from Archway Children’s Centre, increasing already dangerous levels of pollution and the risk of accidents.
  • 50 buses an hour U-turning on Archway Road , halting A1 traffic in both directions.
  • Narrowing the bottom of Archway Road to a single lane to accommodate new bus stands replacing those currently on Vorley Road.
  • Traffic dispersed by the banned right turn from St John’s Way will have to use local residential streets to go north. This will include Vorley Road south of the gyratory and the Whitehall Park network of roads to the north.

Protesters fear the plans will lead to greatly increased pollution, especially around the children’s centre and Whitehall Park conservation area; increased congestion around the Archway area and displaced vehicles being forced to use quiet residential streets as rat-runs.

In a letter to residents dated 11 January 2016, TfL asked for comments on the bus routes serving the Archway area, but stated that ‘decisions on the layout of the roads and the location of bus stops and stands have already been taken as part of the earlier consultation on the road layout’. (In January 2014)

“I am surprised that TfL considers the 2014 consultation closed when there are so many unresolved issues. We have been in dialogue with TfL and Islington Council for more than a year now, because we know the scheme can be better. Space constraint, performance and safety standards are not insurmountable problems and we have a dedicated team of architects and traffic planners proposing alternatives,”

says #n19air campaigner Kiat Phua.

“It is a complex project with repercussions for residents and roads users, so we are asking TfL to come back and address stakeholders’ concerns.”

Other residents say they have been continuously challenging these earlier consultations but their arguments have fallen on deaf ears. They are also angry that road works are starting three weeks before the bus consultation is concluded.

“What TfL disingenuously calls ‘consultation’ has barely been lip-service; every suggestion has been dismissed out of hand or later misrepresented. There is fury at such blatant disregard of serious concerns,”

Jenny Thompson, local resident.

TfL claims it will ‘make the town centre a more pleasant accessible and safe environment for all road users’. That’s exactly the problem, say people who live in the area – local residents, including the area’s young children, are being sidelined – in favour of road users.

A coalition of local community groups, businesses, schools and residents have put forward alternative solutions to TfL, but say that they have been rebuffed. They also claim that Islington Council has failed adequately to represent their concerns, and even exacerbated the problem by allowing a left turn into Vorley Road on top of the traffic from St John’s Way.

“Islington Council said in Aug 2015 that traffic past the nursery won’t increase as a result of changes to the gyratory. We strongly disagree and have yet to see convincing evidence to support this. Additionally, five months later and outside of the public consultation, they have added another stream of traffic from Junction Road. Even if traffic on Vorley Road doesn’t increase – which is inconceivable – this creates a dangerous intersection outside a nursery,”

says Ginny Hendricks, of Archway Children’s Centre Parents & Carers Forum.

Whitehall Park and Highgate residents, Jess Sofer and Anna Squires, say:

“Many of us welcomed improvements to Archway when the concept was presented back in 2014. What we’re getting is one giant leap backwards as it’s been taken out of the hands of the community groups who drove it.”