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Council chiefs rule that hated High Street Kensington cycle lanes will NOT be reinstalled

Council chiefs rule that hated High Street Kensington cycle lanes will NOT be reinstalled despite Sadiq Khan-led survey claiming more than half of local residents support scheme

  • Temporary lanes installed last year using cash awarded from transport scheme
  • But they were removed in December after some 322 complaints were received
  • This then sparked a huge protest from the borough’s teachers and cyclists
  • Tory leaders unanimously decided last night the lanes shouldn’t be reintroduced 
  • Labour mayor previously quoted poll claiming 56% of residents want the lanes

The hated High Street Kensington cycle lanes will not be reinstalled, council chiefs ruled last night.

The temporary lanes were installed last year after Kensington and Chelsea council was awarded more than £300,000 as part of Transport for London‘s Streetspace scheme. 

But the authority removed the lanes in December after receiving 322 complaints from residents and two business organisations.  

Kensington and Chelsea council removed the lanes in December after receiving 322 complaints from residents and two business organisations

Kensington cycle lane timeline: How row erupted over £700,000 scheme 

September 28 – Kensington council begins installing the lanes, saying they would increase the number of people who could access the high street during the pandemic

October 14 – The work is complete 

November 12 – Residents’ groups and local businesses write to the council saying the scheme was ‘not working’ and harming the local economy

November 29 – Council confirms lane will be removed ‘after businesses and residents expressed concerns

December 1 – Extinction Rebellion activists descend on the cycle lane to protest its removal

December 2 – Activists glue themselves to a work van, temporarily halting the removal work

December 7 – Council confirms all the bollards had been removed. 

March 3 – Sadiq Khan calls for the scheme to be reinstated following a survey which claims 56 per cent of local residents support the project.

March 17 – The council announces the temporary lanes will not be reintroduced 

The removal of the lanes, which were being used by more than 4,000 cyclists a day, sparked a backlash from the borough’s teachers and cyclists, who organised a protest after the decision was announced.

Labour mayor Sadiq Khan then urged bosses to reinstate it earlier this month, with a TfL-commissioned poll claiming more than half of local residents support the scheme. 

Despite that, the local Tory leadership decided unanimously last night, after a discussion lasting just over an hour, that the lanes shouldn’t be reintroduced.  

Council chiefs will instead consider an alternative, long-term scheme, which will involve commissioning research into ‘transport patterns in the post-Covid world’, according to the Evening Standard.

Leader Elizabeth Campbell admitted it may take as long as 12 months to consider all options, as she announced there was a ‘pretty clear consensus’ that the temporary lanes shouldn’t be reinstalled. 

The decision was reached after councillors concluded the lanes, introduced on either side of the high street, had sparked more congestion among emergency vehicles as well as regular commuters.

However, Pat Mason, leader of the council’s opposition Labour group, said: ‘Any argument that says we can’t have cycle lanes because it will cause too much traffic congestion is completely bonkers.

‘Are we going to kick the cycle lane into touch? Is it because of the mayoral elections? Or is it just because we don’t really mean we want to have an environmentally-friendly borough where people cycle instead of driving polluting cars? It’s a fundamental question about the direction this borough wants to go in.’ 

The removal of the lanes, which were being used by more than 4,000 cyclists a day, sparked a backlash from the borough's teachers and cyclists, who organised a protest after the decision was announced

The removal of the lanes, which were being used by more than 4,000 cyclists a day, sparked a backlash from the borough’s teachers and cyclists, who organised a protest after the decision was announced

Speaking earlier this month, ahead of the meeting, Mr Khan said research by ICM Unlimited, who telephoned more than 1,000 local residents, showed 56 per cent of people supported the scheme.

Around 30 per cent either strongly opposed or slightly opposed the project.

He said at the time: ‘The ripping out of the new cycle lanes last year was not just an unacceptable waste of money, but went against what everyone could see: that the safe space for cycling on Kensington High Street was working.

‘Cycling numbers were up, bus journey times down, yet the Council were swayed by a few loud voices committed to the status quo.

‘I admire RBKC’s commitment to putting their residents first.

‘What this poll shows is that their residents want to be able to cycle along Kensington High Street and other main roads across the borough.

‘I urge the Council to make the right decision and work with TfL to reinstate the cycle lanes.’

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