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What shall we do with the junction of Old Street and City Road?



The meeting point of Old Street and City Road should be an inviting gateway linking two of inner London's most lively boroughs with the bustling periphery of the City of London. Since 1967, though, it has been blighted by a huge roundabout which destroyed the original frontages to create a hostile environment for walking and cycling, and a generally unattractive place to be in and pass through.

Fortunately there is momentum for change here, driven partly by the desire for better conditions for walking and cycling, and partly by the area becoming a hub for Internet-based innovation.

The changes currently being contemplated by the relevant authorities (Transport for London, which controls the tube station, the eastern section of Old Street and the northern section of City Road; and the London Boroughs of Islington and Hackney, which are the planning authorities) are based on the 'peninsularisation' of the roundabout.

Peninsularisation would mean stopping up one corner of the roundabout, and making the remaining carriageway two-way. This would be an improvement on the current roundabout from the point of view of walking and cycling, but it would still result in a complex, confusing layout and a sub-optimal use of space, both for movement and development.

We think that a crossroads layout would provide the best opportunities for active frontages, coherent connections, and human-scale streets. After all, it's what was there before, and it's how most junctions are configured in cities everywhere.

We have heard various objections to the crossroads idea over the years, initially centred on capacity for motor traffic, and latterly on the location of sewers and potential new station entrances.

These worries can and should be overcome, given enough ambition. First, design the sort of place that people will want to come to and be in. Then let the engineers do their magic to make it work.

Here we present a very preliminary visualisation of how a restored crossroads might look. We hope this will be the start of a fresh discussion of the future of this crucial location.

As well as being endorsed by our LCC colleagues in Islington Cyclists Action Group, the aim of recreating a crossroads at the Old Street / City Road junction is also supported by the local groups of Living Streets (the pedestrian lobby) in both Hackney and Islington, as well as by both boroughs' leading amenity groups, namely the Hackney Society and the Islington Society.

We hope for your support too.


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