Seven Stations Link
Milestones and some early ideas on the design of the Seven Stations Link commonly known in Camden as SSL and renamed Stations Circular when the route was expanded.
Seven Stations Link
The History of the SSL
Seven Stations Link Milestones
- Mar 1998: CCC proposes SSL to Camden Council
- Sep 1998: LB Camden commissions feasibility study from small consultancy
- Apr 1999: Consultants fail to deliver final report due to organisational difficulties
- Dec 1999: London govt supports extension of SSL south of Thames into orbital route
- Jan 2000: New consultants (JMP) deliver feasibility report
- Jun 2000: Public consultation over the SSL route concluded - 75% support the proposals.
- Jul 2000: Frank Dobson MP unhappy that eastern half of SSL will displace traffic past Coram's Fields nursery
- Nov 2000: Work starts on western half of SSL (Westminster border to Gordon Sq)
- Jun 2001: Feasibility study complete on alternative SSL routing of western half via Guilford St,
- Aug 2001: CCC visit Frank Dobson to discuss his continuing concerns
- Nov 2001: Western half of SSL 90% complete after many frustrating delays
- March 2002: Western half of SSL complete, although one major design problem (Gordon Sq) unresolved.
- March 2003: Consultation on eastern section of SSL
- July 2003: Bloomsbury Cldear Zone consultation - leads to progress on Malet Street and completes junction with north south route
- June 2004: Camden council gives go-ahead to eastern section of SSL.
- Winter 2004-5: track between Marchmont Street and Woburn Place completed
- April 2005: inconclusive attempts to improve crossing at Malet Steet
- August 2005- summer 2006: track built as far as Judd Street/Hunter Street, but blocked by crane until late summer 2006
- safety measures implemented at Gordon Square
- September 2006: track opened between Marchmont Street and Judd Street; but new signal phases not yet implemented at junction of Marchmont Street. Eastbound cyclists begin to complain of danger from left turning vehicles at this junction.
- October 2006 - urgently awaiting the turning on of signals at Marchmont Street junction scheduled for summer 2006(worries about safety due to delays by TfL who have to inspect infrastructure and then turn on signals)also waiting for signals at Judd Street which are due in 2006-7. TfL fails the infrastructure put in by LB Camden
- November 2006: LB Camden decides the junction is unsafe and puts in barriers to close the cycle track between Woburn Place and Marchmont Street. Cyclists keep removing them, but council puts them back.
- December 2006: TfL fails the signal infrastructure at Marchmont junction yet again. Barriers disappear for a while. Safety concerns about junction with Tottenham Court Road lead to some proposals for improvements.
- January 2007: LB Camden waiting for another check on infrastructure.
- Feb - Sept 2007: Water mains work puts sections in Byng Place, Gordon Square out of action. Marchmont to Judd Street often closed.
- Feb-March 2007: Segregation debate on mailing list: many express concerns relating to the popularity of the cycle track and consequent overcrowding as well as the danger at the side road junctions.
- May 2007: Separate signals for cyclists at Marchmont junction (to prevent left hooks on those going straight on).
- Autumn 2007: Work completed on new scheme for Ampton Street.
- Feb 2008: Redesign of Judd Street junction.
- Late 2010, Marchmont Street: vehicle left turn across track prohibited, signals revert to normal. Build outs added to prevent the turn.
Cycle counts at junction with Tottenham Court road September 2011.
the rest of this page was written by Paul Gasson in 1999
The Seven Stations Link (SSL) was initiated by a proposal from the Camden Cycling Campaign (CCC) for a physically segregated cycle route running from Paddington Station to Liverpool Street Station. The Seven Stations Link route was agreed by all London Cycling Campaign local groups in whose boroughs the route runs through, and makes use of the London Cycle Network (LCN) routes for 95% of its length. Whilst the intention is also to provide complementary improvements in pedestrian facilities, and environmental streetscaping enhancements, LCN budgetary constraints means that the bulk of improvements which are not dedicated to cycle facilities will have to be funded from non-LCN sources.
This scheme offers the opportunity to implement effective traffic calming in the areas through which the route runs, in order to provide an attractive environment for pedestrians and cyclists, and regenerate local communities which are currently suffering the ravages of a considerable volume of rat running motor vehicles. Physically removing road space from motor vehicles, whether for use by cyclists or pedestrians, acts as a traffic calming device in its own right, as motor vehicle lane widths are narrowed. Much of the traffic along the route comprises taxis and commercial vehicles; the route has no bus services along it.
During late 1999/early 2000 the Government Office for London (which has been reformed as 'Transport for London" following the creation of the Greater London Authority) agreed in principle to requests from local authorities south of the Thames that the Seven Stations Link be expanded to provide an orbital link which encompasses the remainder of London's mainline stations, which are mainly situated along the south bank of the River Thames. Thus the scheme is being renamed as the Stations Circular (although if anyone comes up with a more inspired name, please let us know).
The SSL's Development in Camden
Whilst the Seven Stations Link was initially proposed by the Camden Cycling Campaign, and considerable effort devoted to the objectives, justification, routing and types of facility required, the scheme has benefitted greatly from the highly proactive support from key councillors and council officers. Camden Council is setting an exemplary UK lead on how to combine innovation and high quality engineering practices to overcome difficulties which have defeated less visionary and committed councils.
A further critical component has been provided by the council's Cyclists and Pedestrians Liaison Group (CPLG). This bi-monthly forum has proved a vital sounding board for the scheme, and resulted in much intelligent debate over integrated transport solutions, road danger reduction, road space reallocation principles and implementation, and traffic reduction and calming measures.
Camden Council commissioned a feasability study for its section of the Seven Stations Link in 1999, and in early 2000 approved further work on routing, traffic modelling and a public consultation.
The Campaign was well aware that the SSL proposals would be seen as radical in many quarters, and that there was the potential for the scheme to be seen as too politically risky to be backed. Thus in 1999 it proposed that a section of cycle track be implemented to the intended SSL standards in Royal College Street, which lies on Camden's most popular north/south cycle route to the east of Camden Town. In April 2000 the 450 metre length of cycle track was formally opened, and the resultant success of the scheme, local publicity and interest from the DETR demonstrated that it was indeed possible to provide a high quality engineering solution in inner London to tackle the current dangers on the roads for cyclists. One aim of this scheme was gain practical experience of effective physical segregation, and to pilot some of the measures that were expected to be required for the SSL; see our web page devoted to the Royal College Street case study.
In July 2000, following public consultion on the Seven Stations Link which resulted in 75% of residents and business in the affected area supporting the proposals, the council gave approval for detailed design and implementation of the western half of the scheme. However public and council concerns over the impact of introducing one-way motor traffic flows along part of the eastern section of the route (required in the narrower streets due to the reallocation of roadspace to the cycle track), resulted in the decision to delay implementation of the eastern section of the track. In the meantime the one way motor vehicle flows will be introduced on an experimental basis, and a decision on how to proceed following the results of monitoring will be taken in 2001.
Why did we propose the SSL?
Camden has the policy to encourage cycling (and walking) in preference to motor vehicle use. More specifically, it has (in line with the National Cycling Strategy) a target to double cycling by 2002 from 1997 levels, and a further doubling by 2007. However, particularly in central London, pressure on road space means that motorists will drive or park in anything they can get their wheels into. Thus painted lines are no longer sufficient to provide adequate levels of safety for cyclists, and the rising levels of real and perceived danger on our roads are a major barrier to more people cycling. Currently many older people, in particular, are prevented from cycling by road conditions.
High-quality, safe and continuous physically segregated cycle routes are needed to encourage more people to cycle by reducing this danger, and are essential if Camden is to acheive its cycling targets. This type of high-quality facility is common in many parts of Europe and there is a direct relationship between high levels and quality of cycle facility provision and high levels of cycling - as well as a wider age profile of cyclists in these cities as compared to London.
The Marylebone to Commercial Road Red Route, with its stated aim of attracting through motor traffic, offers the opportunity for high profile motor traffic reduction measures in side streets and residential roads, through road space reallocation. The vast majority of current traffic on the SSL route is due to the through rat runs.
Thus the scheme also promises important benefits for local residents - this is particularly important in this area where car ownership levels are among the lowest in the borough of Camden, and indeed in the country as a whole. Although some residents may fear that their car journeys will be made slightly more difficult due to traffic restrictions, in balance there will be overwhelming benefits for ALL residents, including car owners, from a general traffic reduction in the area.
And the SSL complements the London Planning Advisory Committee's recently proposed targets for traffic reduction - in Camden's case this is 35% by 2005 (see LPAC's report on this site).
Public concern over air pollution is high, and the area through which the SSL runs is shortly to be designated as an Air Quality Management Area. This project is a highly cost-effective way of achieving targets for reducing pollution and congestion, and is likely to represent an important component in any strategy arising from Camden's draft Air Quality Management Plan.
We also see the potential to dovetail the SSL with one or more of Camden's Clear Zones - Bloomsbury offers an ideal location for pilot Clear Zone, and the SSL passes right through the middle.
Finally, we wish to make use of this opportunity to capitalise on the benefits of roadspace reallocation away from motor vehicles by further enhancing the environmental attractiveness of the SSL streets through measures for pedestrians, and streetscape enhancements.
Where does the route actually go?
The following streets lie on the route proposed by CCC:
- Paddington Station, Praed Street, Chapel Street, Homer Street, Crawford Street (with link via Enford St to Marylebone Station), Paddington Street, Marylebone High Street,
then - Eastbound: Weymouth Street, Portland Street
- Westbound: Marylebone High Street, New Cavendish Street
- Eastbound: Clipstone Street, Maple Street, University Street, Gower Street
- Westbound: New Cavendish Street, Howland Street, Tottenham Court Road, Torrington Place
Two way resumes with:
- Torrington Place (with link to Euston Station via Gordon St), Regent Square(with link to St Pancras, Kings Cross & Thamslink stations via Regents Sq. & Argyle St), Sidmouth Street, Ampton Street, Cubitt Place, Packenham Street, Phoenix Place
Mount Pleasant, Exmouth Market, Skinner Street, Percival Street, Lever Street, Bath Street, Bunhill Row, Featherstone Street, Leonard Street (western half)
Leonard Street (eastern half)
City of London
Paul Street, Christoper Street, Pindar Street, Liverpool Street Station
Carriageway Space Reallocation
Much of the route runs along roads which are sufficiently wide to allow the use of with-flow segregated cycle lanes (ie a physically segregated lane on each side of the carriageway).
For narrower sections, decisions are necessary on whether the roadspace is reallocated away from moving or parked vehicles. If residential/business/pay and display parking takes priority, then one option is to convert the street to one way for motor vehicles, and use the other lane for a two way cycle route. The strategic placement of parking/loading bays for the servicing of properties can be done in such a way as to create chicanes, and thus reduce motor vehicle traffic speeds.
The diagram below shows how the first phase of implementation for a signalled junction could be implemented with minimal engineering - just the use of a segregation island to divide the carriageway, and signage; the innovative Camden Advance Stop Line avoids the need for additional traffic lights.
For unsignalled junctions, current Dept of Environment Transport & Regions (DETR) requirements will lead to quite a lot of new signage.
The one way sections of the route shown in the vicinity of the Westminster/Camden border is due to current one way street operation, and along most of these streets parking is allowed on both sides of the road. There is a strong case for considering the removal of parking from one side of the road; this, plus a reduction in the lane width available to the single flow of motor traffic (as it is 1.5 lanes wide, much of this space is effectively wasted) would allow two way cycling. The motor traffic lane width reduction would reduce vehicle speeds, and thus offerfurther traffic calming.
Preventing Motor Vehicle Access at Junctions
A further design consideration is the use of bollards at junctions to prevent motor vehicle access to the cycle route; whilst being a self enforcing measure, this would adversely affect the emergency sevices (see below), and presents a safety hazard to cyclists. And it would not stop motor cycle access unless the gap between bollards was under 1 metre; this distance would prevent use of tricycles, pedicabs and other pedal powered delivery vehicles. This in our view means bollards across the route is probably undesirable, unless there is a big problem with motor vehicle compliance.
We are aware that the emergency services may object to the SSL proposal on the grounds that it will make access for them more difficult; in Camden such objections carry considerable weight when traffic management decisions are made.. We are considering whether we should accept the use of the route by emergency vehicles (but only when responing to an emergency). If we do, there are safety issues here, and if we don't then the route engineering and general quality may suffer greatly. What are your views?
One remaining discentive to cycle use in urban areas has yet to be tackled - the impact on journey times of traffic signals. Ideally, when implemented, the Seven Stations link will offer a sensible compromise between journey speed and safety, with a minimal number of signalled junctions.
Seven Stations Link Architect: Paul Gannon
The architect of the Seven Stations Cycle Link, CCC member Paul Gannon, has worked closely with the campaign to since the scheme's inception in February 1998, and has delivered many presentations to local authorities, the Borough Officers Cycling Group, London Cycling Campaign, and a number of Camden and other NGOs.
An everyday occurrence in Camden's cycle lanes - physical segregation is the only solution
© Copyright Paul Gasson, Camden Cycling Campaign 1999