Life in the slow lane

Not only is Camden hell bent on letting cyclists ride whichever way they choose up one-way streets, it’s also trying to slow traffic down in West Hampstead as well. It’s almost like there’s some sort of concerted plan to improve things in the area. Crazy.

As with the cycling plans, this will be paid for by TfL and the rationale seems to be safety. Much of West Hampstead (aside from West End Lane) already has a 20mph limit. However, many of the residential roads to the west and West End Lane itself are still 30mph and the council claims these roads have a relatively poor safety record compared to neighbouring 20mph streets. Indeed, between September 2007 and September 2010, 39 collisions were reported, resulting in four serious injuries.

In addition to signage, traffic calming measures are being proposed. On the residential streets, the junction of Sumatra Road and Glenbrook Road will be raised and road humps will be added at the junction of Solent Road and Glenbrook Road (just on Solent Rd, not the entire junction).

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On West End Lane itself, the 20mph zone will run from the junction with Quex Road in the south, to the junction with Mill Lane and Fortune Green Road in the north.

There will be three other measures to improve road safety: the pavement running north from Inglewood Road will be widened – the council claims this will improve the aesthetic appeal of the street and the narrower road will help slow traffic. An island will be added to the zebra crossing that links Barclays Bank to the library, apparently in response to observations that cars do not always wait until pedestrians have completed their crossing before driving on (remember your Highway Code?). Finally, the island on the crossing at Lymington Road (the one by Tescos) will be removed and the pavement on the southern edge extended. In addition, all the signs indicating a change of speed limit to and from West End Lane can now be removed, reducing street clutter and there is the potential to remove more signage (this has been mooted for some time and some steps have already been taken around the entrance to the tube station).

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The residential road changes seem like no-brainers. I would be interested to know how many of the collisions that have taken place on West End Lane have happened at speeds in excess of 20mph, given that during the daytime the traffic is so slow-moving anyway there is little opportunity to reach 30mph. I am certainly in favour of removing excess signage and street clutter, although narrowing the road seems unncessary, given the number of buses and delivery vehicles that already contribute to bottlenecks on the road. The aim should surely be to encourage free-flowing traffic moving at a safe speed.

As with all speed limit issues, be it on motorways or residential streets, the issue is one of enforcement more than regulation.

For more comment on this issue, see Georgia’s article in the Camden New Journal.

The council is keen to hear from local residents and businesses to find out whether there is broad support for the proposals for the side streets, and whether the proposals for West End Lane would cause disruption during and after implementation. You need to make sure your letter or e-mail is received by November 11th and send it to:

London Borough of Camden
Culture and Environment Directorate
Transport Strategy Service

or e-mail ku.vo1516136007g.ned1516136007mac@s1516136007otaru1516136007okak.1516136007atsoc1516136007, making sure you include your postal address.

Here’s the full document on the side streets, and on West End Lane.

  • Has anyone ever had a response/any action taken/ or anybody that understands English when contacting camden council? I'm so peed at them at the moment. Ruining the borough 🙁

  • Anonymous

    I have lived off West End Lane (at both ends) for the almost 8 years. I don’t think i’ve ever driven at more than 20mph more than a couple of times. And not for lack of trying! And as for the Sumatra Road “enclave”, you’d struggle to get over 20mph round most of those roads because you have to stop when you meet someone coming the other way. Bit of a non-issue really! But another way to waste yet more taxpayers money with the cost of the new roads signs, speed cameras and speed bumps.

    As for the 4 serious injuries over a three year period, whilst not knowing exactly what is meant by serious, I think that’s a pretty impressive record really. Most of those collisions were no doubt caused because the roads just aren’t wide enough to have cars driving both ways and cars parked on either side.

    People get injured on West End Lane because whilst rushing between train stations, they don’t look where they’re going.

  • @Marciamac

    I agree with Anonymous and have told Camden the same. Where were the serious incidents not on WEL? I haven't heard of any. People simply cannot drive fast. As for widening the pavements to slow down traffic on WEL, it usually takes me longer to get out of WH than to reach, say, Mill Hill (location of my allotment) because of traffic, pedestrians, delivery lorries – esp. outside of Tesco on

  • Anonymous

    ARGGGGG. Why are Camden messing around with waste of time initiatives like this. Yes, make it safer for cyclists by all means, but that should start with compulsory training for anyone that wants to cycle on the road as, if they cannot take care of themselves then they cannot expect others to take care of them too. Also, what the hell is wrong with the island on Lymington Road WEL junction? It has only been there for a year or two, why waste money removing it and making it more dangerous for pedestrians (including my three young daughters). Waste of money.