Has Boris Johnson finally admitted that the Clerkenwell Boulevard needs to be filtered?

At a recent mayoral Q&A, assembly member Darren Johnson asked the mayor:

Clerkenwell Boulevard

Question No: 2015/2071

Darren Johnson
What action are you and Transport for London taking to help finish the Clerkenwell Boulevard? Do you agree that it is a scandalous waste that a cycle path started 10 years ago on a stretch of Clerkenwell Road, close to the junction with Farringdon Road, has been left unfinished, whilst the number of cyclists using this route has doubled?
Written answer from the Mayor
The section of Clerkenwell Road, which will form part of the Central London Grid, is a borough road under the responsibility of the London Borough of Islington. This scheme will be delivered by 2016. The junction will be modified and the intention is that the footway on the north side of the bridge over the railway will be cut back to provide cycling facilities in each direction. Clerkenwell Road will also be bought up to Quietway standards, with kerb realignments and protected cycle lanes in both directions.

Old Street/Clerkenwell Road/Theobald’s Road is a key element of the Central London Cycling Grid. It carries thousands of cyclists everyday (on some sections bikes represent more than 60% of all rush hour vehicles) and it has no direct alternative.

At the moment it shows the contempt that most council officers and counsellors have for people riding bicycles:

  • No protection whatsoever. 
  • Dangerous pinch points. 
  • Pollution at illegal levels. 
  • No investigation of fatal crashes. 
  • No enforcement of 20 miles per hour. 
  • Lack of communication between Council, with the only stretch of protected Lane (3 metres!) been bricked over because of lack of continuation. 
  • Vision Zero London banned by both Camden and Islington Council for pointing out their criminal behaviour. 

Anyone who spends half an hour in the morning or evening rush hour cannot feel bewilderment on how so many people can be treated so poorly. Anyone whose responsibility is to manage the roads cannot have spent half an hour here, otherwise she or he would have said “we need to do something urgently”.

Does Claudia Webbe know that this happens every morning and evening?

Since Vision Zero London has started its campaign for the Clerkenwell Boulevard, several people have been killed or severely injured on this stretch of road but no sense of urgency has arisen among officers or counsellors.

One key element of our campaign has been the ban of through traffic on the Boulevard. The narrowness of the road and the illegal pollution levels require filtering the Boulevard so that only bicycles, buses and local access traffic are allowed. This is what the Boulevard should look like:

If the Dutch can do this, why can’t the Brits?

Camden Council are considering filtering in the context of their review of the Holborn Gyratory, but are moving at glacial pace. Islington has refused to consider filtering Clerkenwell Road and Old Street. Even Sukky Choongh-Campbell, the person in charge of air quality in Islington, has voiced against the only measure that would effectively reduce pollution to legal levels.

So we come to the Mayor’s answer. “Clerkenwell Road will be brought to QuietWay standards.” Now, even a bullshitter like Boris Johnson can claim that Clerkenwell Road is a quiet way. At the moment it is an Arterial Road. The only way to bring it to QuietWay standards is to filter it so that it is not used by through traffic.

We have often pointed out that Islington council have a golden opportunity to put in place a temporary filter during the forthcoming work on the Old Street roundabout, to study the effect on air quality, traffic evaporation, etc. If the experiment is successful, it can then be made permanent.

Andrew Gilligan has repeatedly said that he would not pay for crap. Given his boss promise that Clerkenwell Road will be a QuietWay, will he reject Islington Council proposals which do not include filtering? He certainly cannot possibly accept proposals that keep the same level of motor traffic and apply the insignificant interventions that are currently applied to so called QuietWays. That would be a mockery of the Mayor’s Cycling Vision and the Central London Cycling Grid would be laughed at by the whole world as another British Botch Job.

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