The last days of Liveable Crouch End?

Pandemic transformations for Crouch End Streets

New pavements? New cycle lanes? Empty buses – and how to reduce car-use? Was the Liveable Crouch End scheme right all along? And what were the final proposals? We don’t know, but see below for the kind of things possible.

As we figure out the ramifications of the Mayoral ‘streetspace’ initiative for the emergency provision of widened pavements and new cycle lanes for the duration (and aftermath) of the pandemic – HMG have entered the fray with proposed legislation and funding to effect the same changes. Things are moving quickly.

It’s not hard to see why: post-Covid lockdown they expect capacity on the underground to be at 15%, and the average bus to carry 15 rather than 85 people – and if the car took even a small part of the excess the streets would be gridlocked. So they’re struggling to respond, making further pleas to work from home, and somehow hoping that more of us will walk or cycle. Or indeed ride electric scooters.

Our second observation is we already have much of this in the in-tray as part of the Liveable Neighbourhood Initiativeso the time is now to propose and discuss possible measures in Crouch End.

With this in mind, we’re publishing the following set of maps, which round up various ideas, past and current, for Liveable Crouch End: and shine a light on possible pandemic related interventions. It’s a discussion document, so send us – or the council – any thoughts you may have.

To repeat: this mapping is produced as a feasibility exercise. It is a CENF draft discussion document, not one published by Haringey, or endorsed by any body.


Click for full map

Principles

If any of this were to become permanent it should be accompanied with analysis and justification that acknowledges:

  1. That the overarching objective is to produce modal shift to active travel.
  2. That the long-term traffic problem in Crouch End is through-traffic (increasing at 2.7% per year), not local.
  3. That the needs of the local economy – a 300 retail unit High Street – should be safeguarded: an impact assessment on the local economy must be provided including defined loading and servicing arrangements. As this is a town centre without a car park and already low numbers of visits by car, it is unnecessary to withdraw all parking spaces.
  4. That the urban realm of the Crouch End district centre is shabby and in dire need of improvement to support the goal of revitalising a declining local economy (the retail vacancy rate has tripled in the past year).


(NB. We do not think that some new measures, such as the overlap of Crouch End A and Crouch End B CPZ will have the desired effect of reducing road traffic anymore than is currently allowed, so is pointless. We want measures that work).

In regard to pandemic measures, two objectives:

  • Firstly that all footways in the town centre should be at the absolute minimum: 2.5m wide. If a road cannot accommodate that, traffic should be diverted
  • Secondly, that a cycle lane through the town centre should be part of this (although a route is difficult and requires compromise). We note that no available council produced plans provide this.

The remodelled southern Broadway area. See full map for key.

Walking

Walking has a reasonably high share of travel within Crouch End already (the likelihood is this is due to the absence of tube and train stations and the lack of car parking in the town centre). To improve rates further measures could be taken to improve permeability and safety – for example with new crossings, infrastructure to calm traffic, and wider footways. The pandemic underscores this objective.

Footway widths in the town centre are a problem. Existing pavements frequently fall below the minimum standard for this setting (understood to be 2.5m minimum even in non-town centre locations, with a preferred width of 4.5m within shopping districts).

Particular problems are experienced at –

  • Crouch Hill – narrowing to 1.25m outside no.147
  • The Broadway – narrowing to 2.05m outside no.1 (this is a high footfall area)
  • Tottenham Lane/Broadway Parade – narrowing to 2.15m outside no.1 (a very high footfall area)
  • Park Road – narrowing to 2.05m outside no.1 (a high footfall area)

Such narrow footways are already dangerous, impassable for wheelchair users and can force pedestrians into the roadway. Due to the pandemic, urgent priority should therefore be given to pavement widening.

Cycling

Cycling in Crouch End, dependent upon the perception of safety, is viable on the mostly quiet back streets but quickly breaks down on encountering main routes. Improvements could be made via a network based upon designated N-S and E-W routes across the area. It is not possible to provide unbroken N-S cycle lanes through the centre of Crouch End as roads to the N are too narrow (between 8.0m and 8.7m) – well short of the requirement for vehicle + cycle lanes. An alternative is required.

The S end of Tottenham Lane is particularly difficult. In addition to being narrow it also presents a number of conflicts, including bus stops with frequent buses (3 routes with high/medium boarding numbers) with no space for passing cycles, pedestrian crossings, and some necessary loading bay spaces. The existing footway widths are likewise insufficient, so new cycle lanes would frequently be trespassed upon by pedestrians.

The preferred N-S route, therefore runs Tottenham Lane – split to Middle Lane and Weston Park –The Broadway–Crouch End Hill, which should meet the requirements for Central London bound cyclist commuters. Middle Lane and Weston Park, which avoid bus stops and carry less traffic than Tottenham Lane, can serve as a northbound route (Middle Lane) and southbound route (Weston Park) before coming together at The Broadway. The route would rejoin Tottenham Lane using side streets of Elder Avenue, Rosebery Gardens or Ferme Park Road.

The Broadway itself is only just wide enough (9.8m carriageway at the pinch points) for cycle lanes. The main challenges are the two bus bays (on the high frequency W7 route), where the long queues and very high number of boarding and disembarking passengers preclude any possibility of floating bus stop arrangements. The buses would therefore have to cross the cycle lanes to access the bays so lanes would be ‘advisory’ only. Crouch End Hill provides adequate width.

An E-W route is less useful for London cycle commuters but is important for local cycling to the town centre. Crouch Hall Road–Weston Park offers the obvious axis, and junctions can be re-designed to favour cyclists at Ferme Park Road, The Broadway, Coolhurst Road, and at other turnings along the route.

Local Car Traffic

As mentioned above, most traffic does not stop and can therefore only be affected by the traffic calming interventions discussed below. The principal governing factor is the availability of parking. Crouch End town centre possesses no significant car parks – in comparison, nearby Muswell Hill has two car parks totalling 90 spaces, and Hornsey has a 100 space car park at Sainsburys. In practice, Crouch End is already a ‘walking-centric’ town (but can be improved).

There is no convincing evidence that an extension of CPZ operation will have a meaningful affect on overall traffic. As the CPZ is not predicated on commuter parking or event parking, the only losers in an extension will be the local traders (who already endure the lowest levels of loading and visitor parking provision).

Consequentially, the limited provision of dedicated visitor parking and loading spaces demands a baseline to safeguard comparison shopping and the evening economy. The proposals in the drawing therefore retain 80% of spaces, losing around 14 spots across the main roads of the district centre (perhaps the shortfall can be located on side roads?).

Approximate parking spaces –

  • Tottenham Lane (S of Elder Ave): currently approx. 17, becomes 10 in the drawing.
  • The Broadway: currently approx. 8, becomes 3.
  • Crouch End Hill (Edison Rd–Coleridge Rd section): currently approx. 22, becomes 20.
  • Crouch Hall Road Car Park: 22 spaces retained.

The Topsfield Parade area. See full map for key


This is a long post, but please do read on if you’re interested in some of the discussion and justifications.

The Map and Proposals

Click here for full map

A/ TOTTENHAM LANE

NB: Tottenham Lane has the highest level of economic stress in the district centre and stands to gain most from any improvement to the public realm.

1. Proposal: Widened footways and carriageway narrowing

To improve footway provision and pedestrian movement.

Wider pavements add value to the shopping centre, including a possibility of street trading (adjacent to existing A3 units) in addition to improved accessibility and safety. It is possible to widen the footways on both side throughout the full length of Tottenham Lane – extra width could be placed on the eastern side to facilitate a section of pavement trading without compromising footway accessibility.

2. Proposal: Provision of loading bay / visitor parking

To provide adequate loading spaces for visitors.

The existing section of parking on the eastern side (Broadway Parade, from no.16 to Queens pub) retained and converted to inset/on-footway type.

3. Proposal: Additional pedestrian crossing

To improve pedestrian movement. Sited half-way along the road near the Post Office.

B/ PARK ROAD AND MIDDLE LANE JUNCTION

4. Proposal: Cycle lane

To provide a continuous northbound cycle lane through the town centre.
The use of Middle Lane as part of the cycle route through Crouch End is preferred as it carries less through traffic, features fewer bus stops, and can serve as a route for cyclists for NE and NW and Alexandra Palace directions. The existing carriageway Broadway–Park Road (as it approaches Middle Lane) is insufficiently wide to support two cycle lanes.

5. Proposal: Middle Lane becomes exit only

To calm traffic and aid cycle movement.

As an alternative to closure, traffic movement could still be reduced by exit-only running which maintains vehicle accessibility to Middle Lane.

6. Proposal: Widened footway

To improve footway provision and safety for pedestrians.

In particular the desirability of widening the narrow pavement from no.57 Broadway to no.3 Park Road (western side).

C/ CLOCK TOWER AND BROADWAY JUNCTION

NB: This is an LCE proposal providing the most eye-catching of the scheme’s design options.

7. Proposal: A new T-junction

To calm traffic and improve the public realm.

There is sufficient space to construct a carriageway between the clock tower and Topsfield Parade – and to maintain a 2m safety margin around the clock tower. It is assumed that the no-right turn for S bound vehicles on Tottenham Lane would remain (to reduce the signal phases at the junction). The potential rise in congestion and the impact on bus services must be monitored.

The preferred design has the main road running to the west of the clock tower, this is because –

  • The W side facilitates the preferred cycle route
  • The geometry works better – the stop lines have superior sight lines and the 91 buses have greater space for their swept path
  • To incorporate the Weston Park pedestrianised space

8. Proposal: Pedestrian scramble-type crossing at intersection

To make significant improvements to pedestrian movement.
New crossings, a pedestrian-only crossing phase across the junction, and the raising of the roadway to footway level should calm traffic and enhance movement. Only one road would need to be crossed instead of the current three.

9. Proposal: Clock Tower piazza

To provide a major improvement to the public realm.

The surplus road space can be used to create a public space, a piazza which becomes a new focal point for the town centre. Presents an opportunity for planting (including new street trees), seating, temporary events, and areas for pavement trading adjacent to existing A3 units.

10. Proposal: Crouch Hall Road closure and modal filter

To improve pedestrian and cyclist movement. If preferred the route could still be available to exiting supermarket delivery trucks (timed?).

11. Proposal: New N-S and E-W cycle routes

To improve cycling permeability. At the piazza the routes could be shared space (?).

D/ WESTON PARK

12. Proposal: Closure, pedestrianisation and modal filter for Weston Park

To enhance the town centre and improve pedestrian and cyclist movement.

A closure that expands piazza space and provides a location for a concentration of pavement trading adjacent to existing A3 cafes. A pocket park is possible?

The use of Weston Park as part of the southbound cycle route through Crouch End is preferred as it carries less through traffic, features fewer bus stops, and can serve as a route for cyclists for NE and NW and Alexandra Palace directions.

E/ THE BROADWAY

Note: For reference the final designs for the Hornsey Town Hall development are shown, including the re-shaped green and additional cycle parking (project delivery end 2021). Obviously this whole area is no longer publicly owned – but the Square (and the new cycle parking) remains a public amenity.

13. Proposal: Cycle lanes and roadway narrowing

To provide a continuous cycle lane through the town centre.

The existing carriageway is narrowed to allow cycle lanes (with advisory and mandatory sections). This is only just possible with cycle lanes occasionally at minimum width (1.5-1.6 m). Existing bus bays are retained.

NB: The cycle route means the opportunity to widen pavements adjacent to nos.1-19 Broadway is largely missed. At the moment the footway shrinks to a bottle neck of 2.05m, but it should still be possible to widen the footway to a minimum of 2.75m.

14. Proposal: Removal of existing pedestrian crossing

To rationalise pedestrian movement.

With two new major and improved pedestrian crossings at each end of the Broadway the existing crossing place is (probably) superfluous.

15. Proposal: Provision of loading bay

To provide adequate loading space for visitors. The existing spaces on the S bound carriageway are retained and re-sited.

F/ BROADWAY SOUTHERN JUNCTION

16. Proposal: New pedestrian crossings at intersection

To make significant improvements to pedestrian movement.

Two new pedestrian controlled crossings (across The Broadway and Coleridge Road) and a possible diagonal path facilitate a scramble-type phase across the junction and could be accompanied by the raising of the roadway to footway level to slow traffic and enhance movement.

17. Proposal: Re-shaped junction with Crouch Hill

To calm traffic and improve the environment for pedestrians.

The island crossing at the neck of Crouch Hill is replaced by a single crossing (across a narrower roadway). A re-shaped road layout allows some footway widening near no.4 Broadway and no.1 Crouch End Hill (Nat West bank). NB: Coleridge Road remains entry only.

G/ CROUCH HILL

18. Proposal: Single track traffic and widened footways

To improve footway provision and safety for pedestrians.

This is a more significant intervention to narrow the carriageway to (lights controlled) shared single track running, some 50 metres in length.
The principal motivation is to deliver adequate footway width, i.e. minimum 2.5m. The narrowest sections are currently only 1.25m wide and dangerous for some pedestrians. The proposal would also increase the aesthetic appeal of this narrow road which is already of insufficient width for safe operation (only 5.15m at its narrowest). The W7 buses already have to give way to oncoming traffic.

NB: Safe operation may present issues (due to signalling and possible gridlock if vehicles were queuing in the single lane when the lights changed), however, it should be noted that this is a short section of road with good sight lines. Occasional full closure and single lane closures at this location by utility companies have worked tolerably well.

H/ CROUCH END HILL

19. Proposal: Cycle lanes

To provide a continuous cycle lane through the town centre.

20. Proposal: Retained parking

To provide adequate parking for visitors.

Loading bay/visitor parking can be converted to an inset arrangement. Note that the build out for the bus stop remains and some new footway sections offer space for cycle parking.

 

Click for full map

3 Comments

  1. Mark Afford Author

    Add the statement of the Prime Minister (10th May) to the transport conundrum (“don’t use public transport … use your car”)

    It is now crystal clear that, in London at least, public transport is not only a high risk area, but can’t carry more than 10%-15% of usual capacity. And as soon as people go back to work, the roads will be gridlocked. Answers on a postcard please.

    Reply
  2. Adrian Essex

    We have been approached with the question “Who is the chap carved out of brick and where is he?” The answer is the Spirit of Electricity, the bringer of heat and power, carved in brick on the wall of the old electricity showrooms in Crouch End’s town hall square, above the door of of what is now the Sales Suite. The figure is mentioned on this page which describes the tableaux above the old Gas Showrooms http://www.speel.me.uk/sculptlondon/hornsey.htm

    Reply
  3. Fortior quo paratior

    Crouch End deserves better – when will Haringey or TfL give us a definitive yes or no for the Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme??

    We need it now more than ever.

    Reply

Leave your thought