Discussions have re-started over the future of Carlton Vale as Brent Council and urban designers go ahead with plans to completely transform the area.
This scheme is part of the South Kilburn Regeneration Programme, which is half way through its 15 years plan, and time has come to turn to Carlton Vale. The project is defined as follows:
Design Associates, carltonvaleboulevard.co.uk“The proposals for this project are for the revitalisation of Carlton Vale to create a vibrant Boulevard with improved transport links, lighting, street furniture and artwork. This green spine will focus on improving the health and well-being of residents and will also deliver improvements to air quality, sustainable drainage solutions and increased biodiversity. Carlton Vale Boulevard will be bound by Queens Park station in the west and the junction of Kilburn Park Road on Carlton Vale in the east.”
We attended the first online public consultation in December 2020 during which, slides were shared, which you can view here. They are very keen to hear your views on the overall approach, so please do feedback comments and ask them anything. The approach is presented as a collaborative one, and this development aims to reverse the changes over the years that have led to Carlton Vale becoming “dominated by vehicle traffic with limited space available for pedestrians and cyclists” and perhaps preventing the area to live up to its full potential as it benefits from existing “good connections into the local open spaces and communities“
Carlton Vale is obviously the only permanent cycling lane we have in Brent, with an almost continuous light separation from motor traffic. Furthermore, we have the wonderful parallel crossings that enable people cycling to cross the gyratory, to the West, in relative safety and without the need to dismount. And of course, a couple of bus bypasses, as demonstrated below by the original designer.
The news that the combination of all these interventions were to be removed was alarming, however, new plans include a new bi-directional cycle lane, continuous footways and redesigning that junction. Here’s the indicative proposal, with the map at the bottom of the proposed cycling provision, in the blue dotted line.
Prioritising pedestrians and cyclists as well as improving public realm are the right approach, however, we need to be vigilant that the current cycling provision will not be replaced by something inferior in quality and design. Shared space for instance has been mentioned and this is sounding alarm bells as they are rarely done properly and lead to conflicts. In fact, the latest national cycle infrastructure design guidelines, do not recommend it, especially not in areas with high flows of pedestrians, which this proposal aims to achieve.
Local Transport Note 1/20 – Cycle Infrastructure Design, Department for Transport (July 2020)“Shared use routes in streets with high pedestrian or cyclist flows should not be used. Instead, in these sorts of spaces distinct tracks for cyclists should be made, using sloping, pedestrian-friendly kerbs and/or different surfacing.”
“Although there are few recorded collisions between pedestrians and cyclists on shared use paths, the fact that the two user groups travel at different speeds and sometimes in different directions, can affect the level of comfort of both groups.”
We also have some concerns over alternative routes during the construction phase, as Carlton Vale provides a safer route than Kilburn High Road to travel North-West/South .
We also would like to see a fully inclusive scheme that would enable non-standard cycle users to safely enjoy the new facilities. So, we will be reinforcing the message that anything built should follow the Social Model of Disability as championed by Wheels for Wellbeing and explains in great details in their Guide to Inclusive Cycling.
The outline timescales for the Carlton Vale Boulevard Project are as follows:
● Design Period: November 2020 – Summer 2021
● Consultations: December 2020 – February 2021
● Start on Site: Summer / Autumn 2021
● Completion on Site: December 2022
Please do join in the conversation and make comments and suggestions to the designers. So we can all look forward having a good scheme, that is practical, high quality and sits well with an area about to see its full potential unlocked.
Sylvia is the current Brent Cycling Campaign Coordinator. She is a Cricklewood resident and a cargobike mum of two.