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London LTNs: More chaos caused by cycleway as it blocks three emergency vehicles

A controversial London cycleway has blocked three emergency service vehicles in just 24 hours.

A blue-lit fire engine was halted, a police car’s driver was forced to turn around and an ambulance had to weave between traffic after congestion built up on Chiswick High Road in west London.

It comes as residents across Britain continue to slam the implementation of so-called Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) – which have been used by councils to wage war on motorists under the government’s controversial Active Travel project.

Video footage taken from a flat overlooking the busy road, which features Cycleway 9, showed the emergency services struggling to get past slow-moving cars and buses in three separate incidents today and yesterday.

A blue-lit fire engine was halted (pictured), a police car’s driver was forced to turn around and an ambulance had to weave between traffic after congestion built up on Chiswick High Road in west London

Meanwhile, the double-laned cycle path stood empty with only one or two cyclists trickling past in each of the three clips. 

The first clip, dated March 25 and timestamped at 2.48pm, showed a fire engine attempting to rush through traffic.

It was halted when drivers couldn’t move their cars out of its way because of black and white bollards marking out the cycleway.

In the second clip, filmed yesterday at 4.38pm, a police officer was forced to make the decision to turn around after their car became wedged between two red buses.

And today at 3.09pm an ambulance was filmed weaving across both sides of the road in a desperate bid to make it through traffic.

It comes months after footage emerged of a fire engine becoming stuck in a road block, put in place to create a ‘Covid friendly’ cycle lanes.

The video showed the blue-lit emergency vehicle wedged between a wooden planter and a parked white car in Ferndale, south London.

Today at 3.09pm an ambulance (pictured) was filmed weaving across both sides of the road in a desperate bid to make it through traffic

Today at 3.09pm an ambulance (pictured) was filmed weaving across both sides of the road in a desperate bid to make it through traffic

As firefighters ditched the vehicle and made the short walk to the nearby incident, one angry resident could be heard raging against the scheme, saying: ‘You are trying to say this is good for us?’

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) have been introduced to allow for social distancing on footpaths and cycle during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the scheme has caused controversy as many believe it is being implemented to ‘punish’ motorists.

Furious motorists across the UK have accused the government of a ‘war on drivers’ with the scheme, which has seen roads blocked, traffic congestion increased and journey times lengthened.

Angry residents in several London boroughs are said to be planning protests this weekend against LTN schemes in their areas. MailOnline readers have also previously shared some of their LTN nightmares.

Meanwhile, a mother who lives a short walk from where the footage of the fire engine was shot last August, claimed the time it took to complete her school run has trebled as a result of the LTN scheme imposed by Lambeth Council.     

In the second clip, filmed yesterday at 4.38pm, a police officer was forced to make the decision to turn around after their car became wedged between two red buses

In the second clip, filmed yesterday at 4.38pm, a police officer was forced to make the decision to turn around after their car became wedged between two red buses

Abi Babalola, 40, said her 10-minute school run now takes more than 30 minutes due to her having to weave her way around the streets of Brixton – even passing near to her home ‘a number of times’ in the process.

The stay-at-home mother-of-three, who has lived in the area for 30 years, claimed councils are using Covid-19 as an excuse to clamp down on motorists, who she said are being ‘discriminated against.’

What is the government’s active travel scheme and why are motorists upset?

The Government is spending £225 million on active travel measures across the country, most notably in London, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham and York.

A major initiative launched by the Department for Transport in May set aside £225m for ’emergency active travel schemes for local authorities due to the pandemic’.

The department says the money will enable local authorities to produce ‘new cycling and walking facilities’ and its altered road and parking schemes will promote recovery.

However, Emergency Active Travel Fund money comes with a string attached. Councils must satisfy officials ‘they have swift and meaningful plans to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians (both groups rather than one or the other), including on strategic corridors.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle.

BCP Council was awarded around £1.4million from the government for the project.

She said: ‘It’s ridiculous. I have to pass my house numerous times and go round the back just to access the road I live on.

‘I dread to think if the emergency services have to get to me or someone down my road.

‘I’ve lived here for 30 years and we have never had a problem. This is causing a problem for lots of people.

‘They are pushing people on to already busy roads. It’s like a car park in rush hour.

‘And not everyone can walk or cycle. I have three children and I do a big weekly shop. I can’t carry that home.’

She added: ‘During the pandemic a lot of people in the community were coming together – helping people go to the shops – but that is so difficult now that people don’t have the time.’

Meanwhile the London Fire Bridge (LFB) said the incident involving the stuck fire engine in Ferndale happened when firefighters were attending a person locked out of their home six doors down from where the fire engine was pictured. 

A spokesperson said: ‘There was no delay to our attendance and there was no damage to the fire engine or the parked cars.’

The spokesperson added the the brigade ‘supports the LTN in order to assist the recovery from the pandemic and to promote active travel,’ and that it is consulted by councils on any proposed road changes.

Lambeth Council meanwhile says the position of the planter, which was placed as part of the trial LTN scheme, was changed the day after the incident.

Cllr Claire Holland, Deputy Leader added: ‘It is important to ensure those who do not have access to a car – around 60 per cent of Lambeth residents – aren’t forced to walk or cycle on dangerous roads or forced to use public transport whilst the risk of transmission remains high.

‘These projects aim to redress this balance, making it safer for everyone to walk and cycle, so that those without a car have genuine transport options whilst leaving our road clear for those that absolutely have to use them.’ 

Meanwhile, footage from Upper Tooting Road, which runs through a new set of LTN areas put in by Wandsworth Council, showed two fire engine struggling to negotiate through traffic while heading to an emergency.

Footage from Upper Tooting Road, covered by Wandsworth Council, which runs through a new LTN area, shows a fire engine struggling to work through traffic while heading to an emergency

Upper Tooting Road runs through a major new LTN area which has been installed by the council

Footage from Upper Tooting Road, covered by Wandsworth Council, which runs through a new LTN area, shows a fire engine struggling to work through traffic while heading to an emergency

A spokesperson for Wandsworth Council told MaiOnline: ‘We’ve introduced some experimental traffic schemes on a temporary trial basis to encourage alternative forms of travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing rules in place on public transport.

‘These pilot schemes are being constantly monitored and kept under review and if evidence shows they need amending or changing we will make those changes.’

Alongside the LTN scheme in Tooting, the area has also been part of the Transport for London’s ‘StreetSpace’ changes on the A24 red route, which has had a major impact on traffic in the area.

Meanwhile, in the latest furore caused by the scheme, angry residents on Churchfield Road, in Poole, planted signs in protest against their street being closed off to create a new cycle lane.

However, the signs were soon taken down by ‘jobsworth’ council workers, in case a cyclist crashed into one of the planters and injured themselves on the screws in the placards.

Locals were left stunned by the explanation – especially as the planters themselves had been installed by the council.

The road closure has seen residents have to take a ‘massive detour’ to get to their own homes, causing anger at the timing of the new scheme. 

Angry residents on Churchfield Road, in Poole, planted signs in protest against their street being closed off, placing them in timber containers

Angry residents on Churchfield Road, in Poole, planted signs in protest against their street being closed off, placing them in timber containers 

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle

Neighbouring street Bird Hill Road has also become a no-through road and Churchfield Road is also a no-through road with a closure to motorists at its junction with Fernside Road.

The signs, which carried the slogan ‘open our road’ were put in place by resident Carolyn Hewitt at the end of Churchfield Road in Poole.

Mrs Hewitt, 61, has accused the council of ‘making up excuses’.

She said: ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous. They have put the bollards in place yet it is my signs that were of mortal danger to cyclists.

‘The workmen just turned up, pulled the signs out and tossed them in the back of their truck.

‘It was only because I saw them that I was able to get them back.

‘They told me that someone could crash and hit their head on the screws which were poking through.

‘I’ll be the first to admit that my DIY is not what it should be and the screw heads were poking through but even so, it does sound like an excuse rather than a reason.

‘We’re now in a position where we are pinned in our road for the next six months and have to take a massive detour to get to our own driveways.’

The active travel scheme, which has been introduced to allow for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, has caused controversy as many believe it 'punishes' motorists

The active travel scheme, which has been introduced to allow for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, has caused controversy as many believe it ‘punishes’ motorists

The signs, which carried the slogan 'open our road' were put in place by resident Carolyn Hewitt (centre) at the end of Churchfield Road in Poole

The signs, which carried the slogan ‘open our road’ were put in place by resident Carolyn Hewitt (centre) at the end of Churchfield Road in Poole

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle.

BCP Council was awarded around £1.4million from the government for the project.

Objectors have complained that there has been no public consultation and the first they were aware of it was when the roads were blocked off with planters and bollards.

The temporary measures were put in place in August until 7 March 2021, before a decision would be made on whether they would become permanent.  

The decision was made as part of a controversial government project that has seen hundreds of residential roads across the country blocked off in similar fashion.

In many cases, residents have complained that the move has resulted in usually quieter side roads being turned into rat-runs by motorists who have had to divert. 

Photographs taken across the capital in the likes of Tooting, Streatham, Balham, Islington, Mayfair and Victoria showed how the new cycle lanes were empty while cars and vans sat in heavy traffic alongside them. 

The Government is spending £225 million on similar measures across the country, most notably in Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham, York, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Derby and Cardiff. 

One van driver complained about a scheme in Bristol, saying it adds 20 minutes to his journeys.

He previously told MailOnline: ‘These measures are adding about 20 minutes per hour to every journey. Which means I’m working longer for less. It’s crazy.’ 

‘It was 3pm on Wednesday, when traffic would usually be light, but a tailback snaked behind and ahead of Steve for more than a mile.

‘On August 3, the council reduced the space for powered vehicles on Lewins Mead from two lanes to one.

‘Since then, the nearside lane has become a thoroughfare for bicycles. Incidentally, while at the junction for 30 minutes, I saw only one cyclist use the bike lane.’ 


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