The segregated cycle track along Tavistock Place in Camden often gets a lot of attention – it’s one of the few examples of separated provision for cyclists in London of any length. It is not adequate in width, nor is it helpful that the two-way track runs alongside a two-way carriageway. These are flaws that the advocates of the path never wanted, and that were forced upon them. It’s worth reading this post by David Arditti, which sets out the background, most notably, the original plan to convert the road into a one-way street, with a two-way track alongside it. This would have allowed the track to be far wider, and would have eliminated the more dangerous turning conflicts.
I’m interested here in the continuation of that route, eastbound, as it heads across Gray’s Inn Road, into the residential Ampton Street. You can see the route below.
Importantly, this is a journey that you can only make on foot, or by bicycle, because the entrance to Ampton Street at the junction with Gray’s Inn Road is closed off to motor vehicles. Looking west from Ampton Street, towards Gray’s Inn Road –
The only way you can get a motor vehicle into Ampton Street, therefore, is via Frederick Street to the north, turning into Ampton Place.
Both these streets have become a dead-end for motor vehicles – and consequently the only vehicles using them will be those gaining access to the residences on them.
For this reason, it feels very safe to cycle on this short stretch of street – you will very rarely encounter a (moving) vehicle along it. This is a form of segregation rather different to that of the cycle path on Tavistock Place, but just as effective in making the street seem safe to use by bicycle.
The street is quiet, too. You can hear birds singing, even at the start of the rush hour, when the video below was taken. (Note the total absence of moving vehicles.)
I expect the houses here are worth considerably more than they would be if this was a road fully open to motor vehicles.
Despite the lack of this form of traffic, the street is not ‘quiet’ in the sense of lacking busyness, because as you can see, there are plenty of people walking and cycling through it, which gives enough activity to make it feel subjectively safe.
We can close roads without them becoming stagnant – we just need to do it in the right way.
(There is some good background here on how the eastern end of the street was opened to bicycles as part of the London Cycle Network, and how the changes were consulted upon with local residents.)