Gower Street will become two-way for all traffic from 31 January, and the planned and very complicated new traffic restrictions on Tottenham Court Road will also come into operation from 1 February, as Camden Council’s West End Project limps towards its final act. (Update: on the afternoon of Friday 29 January Camden announced the changeover has been postponed.)
The traffic changes will also affect Bloomsbury Street, and some parts of High Holborn and Shaftesbury Avenue which were previously one-way and will now become two-way.
“We will be introducing two-way traffic to Gower Street and Bloomsbury Street between Grafton Way and High Holborn,” says Camden’s West End project team in a newsletter to local residents and business owners this week.
The announcement means that Camden will have completed all of the planned traffic changes across the West End Project area by the end of January; except where Gower Street and Tottenham Court Road meet Euston Road which has been delayed due to ongoing works as part of HS2 at Euston Station.
“The northern end of Gower Street will remain one way to facilitate HS2 works and we will be in contact again once we are able to make the final full change to two way traffic,” says Camden.
A centre piece of the project is the new, very complicated, motor-traffic restrictions on Tottenham Court Road — with various banned turns — that will come into force from Monday 1 February, and sections of the road will be restricted to buses and cyclists only from 8am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
When the Monday to Saturday restrictions are in operation only buses and pedal cycles will be able to travel the whole length of Tottenham Court Road. Drivers of private motor vehicles, including taxis, will be routed either east or west off the street at various points and sent on a misguided tour of Fitzrovia’s narrow, Georgian streetscape before joining Gower Street to escape the chaos.
Camden has produced a new document to advise businesses on how to prepare their delivery drivers for the changes, and a full set of maps is available showing parking and loading restrictions, as well as details of one-way streets and banned turns. There are literally dozens of maps. Camden has been very generous and provided a blizzard of information.
During the hours of restrictions from Monday to Saturday, through-motor-traffic will be directed along Gower Street and Bloomsbury Street. Cyclists will also be directed along this route where there are new dedicated cycle lanes that include sections which have some meagre protection from drivers.
Although there is some protection for cyclists on Gower Street parts of the “stepped track” have areas with loading bays which, when occupied, will force cyclists to swing out into the carriageway and merge with other traffic.
Camden is asking cyclists to “be aware of loading vehicles pulling in and out of the timed integrated loading bays which can be used for loading between 10am and 2pm”.
All road users are being asked to take extra care while everyone gets used to the new road layout and two-way system. Camden does not want a repeat of the many collisions that happened when buses began operating in both directions on Tottenham Court Road in 2019. Don’t expect the new road design and Camden’s Vision Zero approach to road danger to protect you.
“Signage will be up on the roads to help you so take extra time and care and follow all signage while you get used to the changes. We will have TfL staff on site to assist drivers for the first few days of the two way traffic.
“We have identified back up dates should we need to postpone [the change to two-way] including alternative dates in February and March. Please check our website or sign up to our electronic newsletter for the latest information,” says Camden.
The protected cycle lane on Tottenham Court Road between Torrington Place and Howland Street, will remain closed while work is being undertaken with TfL to create a new design. “We expect this work to be completed in early 2021,” says Camden.
Fitzrovia News has also questioned the accuracy of some of the maps produced showing the direction of traffic in some of the streets. We’ve asked Camden to clarify the stated traffic directions on Whitfield Street and Charlotte Street.
We will also be investigating what we believe is a lack of protection offered to cyclists along the route via Gower Street between Grafton Way and High Holborn. Camden Cyclists also intend to carry out an audit of the route.
Camden Council: The West End Project — Transforming the Tottenham Court Road Area.
Editor’s note: This page was updated at 17.45 on Thursday 21 January to make some minor corrections and add a map showing the new motor traffic movement on Tottenham Court Road.