Clerkenwell Road / Rosebury Avenue

Gray’s Inn Road, bottom left to top right; Theobalds Road, bottom right; Rosebury Avenue and Clerkenwell Road, left and right fork.

Mark commented on an observation that Richard Lewis of LCC made, an aside in his Street Talk last month.

is this street out here [Theobald's Road] an appropriate location for that type of [segregated] infrastructure presumably segregation?. Or is it kind of a bit ‘I’m not sure?’ Is the volume of cyclists using this street enough to calm the motor traffic down, so that actually it becomes safe and inviting for cycling? Or do you think there should be dedicated infrastructure?’

It doesn’t look so terrible in the photo that Mark used, does it? All buses and taxis, outnumbered by cyclists. But I never got around to posting the footage I captured of the Theobalds Road / Grays Inn Road intersection for the Tour du Danger series last year, shot from outside the newsagents, where the bicycles are chained up and the folk are waiting to cross the road on the left of the photograph…

To really see what’s going on, though, you have to take a few steps back to reveal the conjoined intersection: the fork of Clerkenwell Road and Rosebury Avenue, which you can just see hints off, behind the newsagents in the photo, as YouTube user pgsmurray has done…

Safe and inviting? There’s a reason this junction was in the Tour du Danger. The relatively high volume of cyclists — coupled with the atrocious fast and confusing road design, signalling conflicts, and appalling road use discipline — puts this junction in London’s top ten for cyclist casualties. So much for safety in numbers.

Modal choice in London has generally been less about pulls and more about pushes: there isn’t a Londoner who doesn’t have some complaint about their commute, after all. Very little about getting around London, by any mode, is all that inviting. If a few more people are cycling along this road, it’s probably more about the push of an overcrowded Central Line, of paying to sit in jams going out of fashion with city centre workers, and of poor public transport options in Hackney. For a few — an unrepresentative few — the horrors of all the other options currently outweigh the horrors of cycling along this road. What happens when Crossrail opens, almost directly beneath these roads, and the pushes away from public transport are eased?

Building a policy of cycle safety and traffic calming on a high volume of cyclists on the road is a risky strategy: the volume can go down as well as up. And then you’re right back at the beginning again…

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7 responses to “Clerkenwell Road / Rosebury Avenue

  1. I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but I don’t really like the idea of being used as a traffic calming measure. I’m a bit, well, breakable. Imagine the outrage if someone suggested using animals as a traffic calming measure.

    • Fair point. Dartmoor as well come to think of it. I stand corrected. Sheep and ponies for London!! When do we want them? Now!

      I like your blog David btw.

  2. It’s not just some cycle groups that seem to favour the “rolling speed hump” strategy either. I understand that the consultancy which designed the new Cheapside and Kensington High Street streescapes, as well as Exhibition Road (Project Centre, http://www.projectcentre.co.uk) explicitly designed that into their plans – traffic lanes which are deliberately too narrow for motor vehicles to pass cyclists or vice versa, achieved by widening the pavements either side and inserting a “central median” in a low-speed environment where separation of opposing traffic really is not necessary. I have a feeling they may also be responsible for Pall Mall and Piccadilly as well.

  3. Pingback: The choreography of a British intersection | At War With The Motorist

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