Sunday, 9 June 2019

Judd Street & Midland Road

Between helping out with design workshops at the London Cycling Campaign's "Campaigner's Conference" yesterday, I had time to nip out to look at the newly remodelled junction of Euston Road/ Judd Street & Midland Road in Camden.

So yes, another post from London, but it's not an area I know terribly well and the layout is something which can be copied (mostly). Euston Road is part of the A501 which itself is part of the Inner London Ring Road and so an important motor traffic route which in theory should be more useful than the adjacent areas for through traffic. In practice, it's less clear cut, but at least where it is met by Judd Street and Midland Road, things have changed.

Midland Road runs up the western side of St Pancras International station and forms part of the road network which serves the station and the wider area. It is an important location for taxis picking up people from the station, but it is now a part of a cycle route north to Camden Town which at one point itself connects to Royal College Street - in other words, a cycling grid is starting to form.

To the south, we have Judd Street which connects to Tavistock Place which is another part of the local cycling grid and so connecting the areas north and south of Euston Road opens up all sorts of possibility for utility cycling trips.

Before the current changes, Midland Road was a southbound one-way street which flared out to 4 traffic lanes approaching Euston Road and one simply couldn't use it to cycle north (below).

Judd Street was open to all classes of traffic, although one couldn't turn right onto Euston Road. From what I understand, it was pretty busy and it is notable that the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has its London office near the junction.

The new layout for Midland Road provides one-way stepped cycle tracks for each direction which change to island-protected cycle tracks approaching Euston Road;

As is becoming frustratingly common with UK cycle tracks, we have a vertical upstand on the kerb between the cycle track and footway, although at least it is low enough not to be clipped by pedals;

The old taxi rank layout has been kept and so there is a curious southbound arrangement with taxis on the nearside in a taxi lane and a cycle track next to it. This is because passengers will be getting in and out of taxis - it probably makes sense for the location, although taxi drivers waiting to move along did tend to stand on the cycle track while chatting.

At the exit to the taxi rank, drivers give way to people cycling and they should be able to see people coming, although having a conflict point isn't ideal;

About half way along the street there is a large zebra crossing providing access to between the Francis Crick Institute and the station as well as a floating bus stop. As can be seen below, there is a bus stand, then the zebra crossing and in the distance the bus stop.

The bus stand is poorly positioned because when it is in use, a parked bus will obscure the approach to the crossing for drivers and my view is that it should be pulled much further back and the island between the taxi lane/ cycle track and main carriageway made wider to help slow drivers down.

The zebra crossing itself is extremely wide, although I am not that convinced it needs to be. There is a risk in my view that a driver approaching may be concentrating on the area closest to them and miss someone crossing at the far end. The crossing stripes are paved in light grey and dark grey paving blocks which for my mind simply doesn't provide enough contrast between the black and white normally associated with zebras. A sufficiently contrasting carriageway surface is OK for the black stripes, but the white stripes need to be white (below). In addition, there are no "tails" to the crossing to help visually impaired people walking along the footway locate the crossing.

The taxi lane and cycle tracks are also paved within the limits of the zebra crossing and although they are installed with a grout, I predict they will fail on the main running carriageway which takes bus traffic (below).

Personally, I'd have liked to see red, machine-laid asphalt cycle tracks and ordinary asphalt for motor traffic, although the taxi lane paved in the blocks might have been a good idea given the amount of diesel sticking to them which would have destroyed asphalt. Hybrid taxis cannot come quick enough. One other little touch on the taxi lane is some raised blocks to provide a bit of traffic calming (below).

My criticisms to one side, it is still a good scheme and even on a Saturday afternoon it was being used which is as good enough verdict for quality if you ask me!

Heading southbound on Midland Road, a sign (aimed at drivers) explains that the ahead movement is for cycle traffic;

Approaching Euston Road (below), the cycle track gains an island for protection and the level drops down to that of the adjacent carriageway;

As is now the norm, we get a full-sized cycle signal for people approaching the junction and a low-level signal for those at the stop line; the green for people cycling runs with the pedestrian crossings over Euston Road;

For cyclists turning left or right there is a stop line on Euston Road just after the junction to control the conflict with people crossing - the main desire will be between Midland Road and Judd Street, so it's a reasonable compromise; plus Euston Road is pretty hostile for cycling so only the fit and the brave will be turning off;

Across Euston Road, we have Judd Street which is essentially now a narrow little junction for cycling. The view below is from Judd Street looking north and you can just see a driver thinking they are on a cycle;

It would seem that the very clear signage isn't quite enough for some people (below) and it would be solved with a couple of fire-brigade flexible bollards or traffic cameras (which keeps easy access for all emergency vehicles). Mind you, the "no entry, except cycles" isn't the sign I'd have used as it is generally for contraflow cycling on one-way streets; the "no motor vehicles" sign would have been better.

The yellow lines in the photograph above aren't quite right, they should stop at the red lines (for Transport for London's red route on Euston Road) and not go across the cycles-only junction. But, it's a small point.

The traffic signals again have a full-sized and low level signal and for left and right turns, we have the same stop lines because cycles go with pedestrians crossing (as explained above).

The cycle green is quite short and many pedestrians crossing Euston Road will only be able to make half the crossing in a single stage because priority is given to Euston Road.

There is a pedestrian crossing over Judd Street (as there is over Midland Road), although people tended to cross when they wanted which is largely fine. There is an issue with the tactile paving in that RNIB wanted the standard red for controlled crossings after it was put in as light grey. Dark grey has been installed which gives some contrast, but being near RNIB's office I cannot understand why red wasn't used. 

The photograph above also shows a little cycle symbol with a right turn arrow. This is because right turns from Euston Road are two stage so one would pull off the main drag to wait by the cycle symbol before crossing ahead with the next green stage.

One issue which I have since been made aware of is that there is no left turn from Euston Road into Judd Street because because the traffic signals show ahead only and the green on Euston Road runs at the same time as the pedestrian crossing over Judd Street as can be seen from this still from footage shot by Sea of Change Film;

As you can see the main traffic signal and supplementary arrow is for the ahead movement (westbound on Euston Road) and this shows green at the same time as the pedestrian crossing over Judd Street (both circled green). The guy circled red is using the footway to turn left into Judd Street.

There is a need for the left turn and most sensible people will realise that they are disobeying the rules and do so carefully, but someone not behaving is at a high risk of hitting someone on the crossing using the green man. This needs looking at and will be tricky given how the signals are set up. It's the same on the other side where one cannot turn left on a cycle from Euston Road into Midland Road.

I'll leave you with a short video of the 2-stage right turn from Euston Road into Judd Street;


  1. Euston Road eastbound into Midland Road is a journey I sometimes do. Guess you can't have everything but a little section of shared use would make hat movement legal.

    1. Indeed, only the fit and the brave would be on Euston Road, so a little bit of shared would be OK I think.

  2. Interesting that one of the photos of a taxicab pickup area shows that it is almost like a Dutch bus stop with a safety island for pedestrians.

    Obviously, a proper Dutch bus stop design would also work with taxicabs. For an example, see this link:

    1. Yes, it's quite a good bypass, despite having the mixing with taxis.

  3. I was here a few weeks ago cycling from KGX to PAD and I wanted to check out the changes. I completely missed the sign for the 'left turn ban', as it's extremely counter-intuitive.

    When you are cycling on the horrible Euston Road all you can think about is turning off as soon as possible before one of the lunatic bus or taxi drivers in the city takes you out.

    I'm also from a country (ie. almost all other countries in the world) where it's normal to start to turn and then give way to pedestrians who have a green light, so it's completely natural for me.

    A real shame that the regressive road designs here haven't caught up with common sense.

    1. Indeed, it's an irritating UK rule which really constrains things. Technically, there could be another stop line so left turns from Euston Road get held, although it would be ignored.

  4. A cyclist is going to kill a pedestrian quite soon at the crossing.

    The cyclists heading in both directions fail to treat it as a zebra crossing, and particularly in the morning there are packs headed southbound at some speed with no intention or ability to stop as there is a constant stream of pedestrians crossing the road.

  5. Is it not a possibility to make the exit crossings protected, as per Euston Road, but obviously to cycles only?

    Adding a green cycle aspect to the main signals, and removing the Ahead Only box sign would surely fix the legal issue with turning?

    Or alternatively, add a full green and Ahead Only Except Cycles boxes, but I know that TfL love a good green arrow and mandatory arrow box combination!