Politics

London council ignites safety row as it rejects cycle lane plans | Transport

Campaigners have referred to as for the federal government to intervene after a council rebuffed plans to reinstate a flagship cycle lane in central London, reigniting an issue which has come to exemplify neighborhood battles across the nation over secure journey amid coronavirus.

The lane was put in final year in busy Kensington High Street as a part of efforts to spice up lively journey throughout the pandemic, and was instantly controversial. Just seven weeks later, regardless of protests by an area faculty as nicely as cyclists who supported the lane, Kensington and Chelsea council took it out once more.

After widespread criticism, as nicely as considerations from Downing Street, which is dedicated to boosting biking and strolling ranges, and a menace of authorized motion, the Conservative-run council agreed to look once more on the choice.

But at a meeting on Wednesday night, its management staff determined in opposition to rebuilding the lane. The council will instead contemplate “a feasibility study for travel options in the longer term”, it stated, a course of unlikely to convey any adjustments for a least a year.

The choice cements the grievance from critics of the council that it is institutionally against biking. In 2019, it unilaterally vetoed a flagship London scheme for safer strolling and biking, a part of which handed by means of the borough.

Clare Rogers from the London Cycling Campaign stated the Kensington High Street route, which noticed bike owner numbers double to about 3,000 a day when it was in place, “proved a crucial safety measure for thousands of people daily, both on a strategic east-west route for London and for local trips such as families riding to school”.

Rogers referred to as for Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, or Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, to intervene: “Kensington and Chelsea is clearly incapable of behaving as a responsible local authority for this highway, or following its own policies on road safety and the climate emergency.”

Will Norman, Khan’s commissioner for strolling and biking, stated he can be “looking at all options to deliver a much-needed safe cycle route in this part of London”.

Norman stated: “The road is one of the worst cyclist casualty blackspots in the borough, and as lockdown lifts in the coming months it is more important than ever that we do all we can to make our streets safer.”

When the lane was eliminated, the native authority cited native opposition as the rationale, though this turned out to be emails from 322 residents, or 0.2% of the borough’s inhabitants.

A subsequent poll, commissioned by Khan’s office, discovered 56% of borough residents backed the lane, in opposition to 30% who opposed it. Business and organisations based mostly within the borough, together with Imperial College London, the Albert Hall, and Peter Jones, have referred to as for the lane to return.

After Wednesday night’s meeting, the chief of the council, Elizabeth Campbell, stated any adjustments to the borough’s roads “need full and proper consultation”.

A council doc ready forward of the meeting laid out a collection of other choices that may very well be thought-about, together with a cycle lane that operates solely a number of the time, or sending cyclists on an extended route round aspect streets.

The doc prompted criticism from some campaigners by itemizing objections raised to the Kensington High Street lane by opponents complaining “that there is no requirement for cyclists to pay ‘road tax’, to hold insurance, or display a registration plate”.

Sina Lari, chief whip of the Labour opposition on the council, stated the meeting on Wednesday was “stage-managed and cringeworthy”.

He stated: The council is actively rejecting government guidance and the Conservative party’s cycling and walking manifesto. It has missed a huge opportunity to show its commitment to environmental and resident safety.”

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