I had lunch with my friend Daniel, who works at the Angel, today.
We went for a bargain meal at the legendary Indian Veg restaurant in Chapel Market. They do an all you can eat veggie buffet for under £5, excellent value in slightly odd surroundings. The restaurant is decorated with photos of impossibly beautiful Indian women attributing their good looks to their veggie diet. We live in hope...
As we negotiated the Angel crossing (the one from outside the tube towards Liverpool Road) we once again had the situation where the traffic was still passing while pedestrians had the green light. This must be one of the worst designed crossings in London. Thousands of people coming out of Angel tube or getting off the southbound buses need to get across to the shops, to get home to Barnsbury & beyond, or to get a northbound bus.
You get trapped on a totally inadequate island, with sheep-pen railings (unpleasant for pedestrians, dangerous for cyclists). You have to wait an age for the green light. And if you play by the rules and wait for the green man, traffic is still passing; so you may as well do what many pedestrians do all the time – a dangerous dodge whenever the road looks clear.
One of the problems is that the crossing is just south of the point where Liverpool Road joins Upper Street. So pedestrians have to cope with 2 streams of traffic. Back in 2004, I ran a campaign to get the crossing redesigned; even in the foulest weather, people were happy to queue up to sign the petition, the problems with the current crossing are so evident. With help from Lynne Featherstone we petitioned the Mayor (it’s TfL road); and we got the Council’s backing for a feasibility study.
One solution is to relocate the crossing to the north of the junction, or add a second crossing there. That means pedestrians could cross while the Upper Street traffic was already stopped to let the Liverpool Road traffic through. It would also be much better for passengers changing between bus and tube. I think it’s a brilliantly simple solution: but under Ken Livingstone, nothing happened.
Ken’s big idea was to close the road exit from Liverpool Road to Upper Street. Why is this a bonkers idea? Firstly it’s likely to increase the volume of north-south traffic on Upper Street, making it more difficult and dangerous to cross. Secondly, it would route local traffic further round the back streets of Barnsbury before they could exit onto the A1. Thirdly it would disrupt police access to the police station. Oh, and it would block two bus routes, and taxi access to the taxi rank. So much for supporting public transport. Totally barmy.
However, with a new Mayor in place, we have a chance to get some action. The petition is still available to sign online. A better Angel crossing is still worth the effort.