Kings Road is one of the most congested and worst polluted streets in London. At times there is complete gridlock, particularly in the section between Sloane Square and Sydney Street.
A principal cause of the congestion is the large number of vans and lorries which use King’s Road and which, in many cases, stop there to deliver goods. The road is narrow. A single parked lorry can cause problems for busses (there are five bus routes along King’s Road). When two are parked opposite each other there is chaos.
The current regulations for parking and loading are not fit for purpose and are not properly enforced. Specifically:
– Although most of the King’s Road has double yellow lines, there are many sections where at certain times of day loading is allowed on both sides of the street. This is the case, between 10.00 and 16.00, for most of the area between Sydney Street and Blacklands Terrace.
– The boundary between different regulatory zones is not marked. Between Jubilee Place and Markham Street, for example, there is one sign saying “Monday to Saturday No loading between 07.00 and 10.00 and 16.00 and 19.00” and a second sign saying “No loading”. It is unclear which of the two applies where. Between Tryon Street and Bywater Street there is no signage at all.
– Enforcement of the parking/loading rules is virtually non-existent. A traffic warden on the King’s Road is a rare sight. On the few occasions when they patrol there their answer, when challenged as to why they are not ticketing an illegally parked vehicle, is that they cannot wait to see whether the 20 minute loading time has been exceeded. Also, many of them have a poor command of English so it is difficult to communicate.
A secondary cause of congestion is the number of Pedestrian crossings which are not controlled
– Pedestrian crossings are often heavily used, to the point where traffic has to stop for several minutes before there is a clear space. Only two such crossing (near the junction with Flood Street and near Sloane Square) are timed. The crossings at Cadogan Gardens, between Cheltenham Terrace and Walpole Street, at Royal Avenue, at Smith Street and at Waterstones are not. With five uncontrolled crossings in half a mile it is not surprising that the road is congested.
In addition there are uncontrolled pedestrian crossings in side streets where they adjoin the Kings Road, making it difficult for vehicles to exit the Kings Road and obstructing the traffic behind them. The crossing in Anderson Street causes particular problems as it obstructs traffic turning into Anderson Street from the Kings Road, and also traffic crossing the Kings Road from Walpole Street. This pedestrian crossing should be removed
– The turning from King’s Road into Cadogan Gardens is another bottleneck. Cadogan Gardens is too narrow for two-way traffic and it is sometimes impossible for vehicles to enter and leave at the same time, particularly if a bus is involved. This is exacerbated by the uncontrolled crossings west of the turning and across the turning.
– There is no restriction on the size of lorries allowed to use the King’s Road, and huge articulated vehicles are often present. This is less of a problem in the case of Marks and Spencer and Waitrose as they deliver off road, but in other cases they block whole sections of the street.
A new regime is needed which reduces traffic congestion.
This should drastically limit the ability of vans and lorries to load and unload on double yellow lines, and should mitigate the situation at other bottlenecks. This means
– loading and unloading for cars and light vans for a maximum of 10 minutes should take place between 10.00 and 16.00 in certain designated sections of the road only; and where this is allowed there should be no loading or unloading on the other side of the road. Signage should indicate clearly where the loading restrictions apply.
– Longer loading/unloading operations should be prohibited anywhere on King’s Road between Sloane Square and World’s End from 07.00 to 19.00 on Monday to Saturday. All businesses on this section of the Kings Road should receive a letter from the Council advising them of the intention to impose these restrictions and asking them to inform their suppliers when they place orders for goods.
– All pedestrian crossings on the Kings Road between Sloane Square and World’s End should be timed, but they should not emit loud peeping noises which would annoy local residents and businesses.
– Traffic wardens should be instructed to patrol the King’s Road regularly and to enforce the loading restrictions, if necessary by waiting next to a parked vehicle to check the length of its stay. They should not be employed without an adequate understanding of English.
We do think the RBKC’s lack of active traffic management is steadily undermining the future of the King’s Road as a competitive high street and an attractive destination for all sorts of diverse local activities which define Chelsea’s appeal.
To crack the congestion/pollution problems will require a clearly identifiable team of dedicated Kings Road wardens to get the message across that commercial vehicles as well as limos/black cabs/hire cars and others will be dealt with promptly if they continue to obstruct the highway.