‘Nothing short of transformative’: Excitement in Islington over new cycling and walking improvements

The newly extended Cycleway 50 across Pankhurst Road. Photograph: TfL

Cycling campaigners have welcomed “transformative” new cycle lanes in Islington on a previously “intimidating” stretch of road.

The launch of the new segregated lanes follow the extension of Cycleway 50 by Transport for London (TfL).

The new sections connect Finsbury Park to Holloway Road, with lanes running westbound along Seven Sisters Road and eastbound along Isledon Road and Tollington Road.

Now part of the existing cycle network, Nag’s Head roundabout used to be an “intimidating section of the road network by bike”, TfL said.

Nick Kocharhook, a committee member of the Cycle Islington campaign group, said TfL’s description is “definitely accurate”.

“The westbound arm of the gyratory was especially forbidding on a pedal cycle before,” he continued.

“The C50 cycle tracks are nothing short of transformative. They enable parents to cycle with children of all ages on these main roads for the first time.”

Thirty-one cyclists and 53 pedestrians were injured at Nag’s Head gyratory in the three years between June 2017 and June 2020, TfL said.

As part of the extension of Cycleway 50, Islington Council has also announced improvements between Nag’s Head and York Way following a public consultation in October last year.

These include new pedestrian and cycle crossings on Caledonian Road (near Penn Road) and on Hillmarton Road, plus new greening and cycle parking near Penn Stores and St Luke’s Church.

The council also promised to improve the crossings, increase the pavement, and install more greening on Penn Road near Penn Road Gardens and on Hungerford Road near Middleton Grove.

Two-way cycling will soon be possible on previously one-way streets on Caledonian Road on traffic separated cycle lanes and on Penn Road with cycle symbol markings.

Kocharhook said these improvements are “essential” pieces on the route between Finsbury Park and Camden, and Cycle Islington is “particularly happy” about the cycle tracks on Caledonian Road and the crossing on Hillmarton Road.

“These are both longstanding gaps in Islington’s cycle network,” he explained.

He added: “Once both projects are complete, people of all ages in Camden and the west of Islington will be able to cycle safely to and from the shops on Seven Sisters Road and Fonthill Road, as well as the Sobell Centre.

“We applaud the Mayor [of London], TfL, and Islington for the work they have all put in over many years to deliver this project.”

The council’s improvement works are expected to be finished in April, and those affected should receive a leaflet with more information.

The Town Hall’s executive member for environment, air quality and transport, Cllr Rowena Champion, said the Nag’s Head to York Way improvements are a “perfect example of how we’re working directly with communities to create better streets for all”.

She added: “Here in Islington, we believe that streets aren’t just a route from A to B – they’re community spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy, and play a key role in our efforts to create a greener, healthier, more equal borough.

“That’s why we’re so supportive of the creation of Cycleway 50, which will help make it easier for people of all ages and backgrounds to walk, cycle, and wheel.

“These exciting changes will help to reduce air pollution, support more local people to fit physical activity into their day, and create more welcoming spaces for all to enjoy.”

TfL analysis suggests that the Camden to Finsbury Park corridor is within the top five percent in London with the greatest potential for increasing the number of cyclists, and one of the top 10 for travel to and from central London.