A legal challenge launched by an association of taxi drivers against one of London's Cycle Superhighways projects has been called "extraordinary", "unmeritorious" and "smacking of desperation".
Yesterday it was announced the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) launched a judicial review over the East-West Cycle Superhighway despite its head, Steve McNamara withdrawing a threatened challenge earlier in the year, saying delays to the route could leave "blood on his hands". Transport for London (TfL), the body in charge of the Superhighways scheme, say questions raised by the LTDA now were answered at the time.
The LTDA appears to have taken issue with the route's lack of planning permission, which the Campaign to Protect Rural England say is not needed for bike lanes and, it is believed, on the environmental impact the route may have, if traffic worsens as a result of its construction.
The CPRE's Ralph Smyth questions the move, which came after the deadline for legal challenge and on the day of the LTDA's AGM.
Smyth told road.cc: “This attempt to quash the Embankment Superhighway, over three months after the time limit for bringing a legal challenge expired, is as extraordinary as it is unexpected. While traffic orders were needed and indeed were obtained to improve these roads for cycling, planning permission was not.
"This wholly unmeritorious challenge seems to have rather more to do with the LTDA AGM than any known legal principle. It smacks of desperation for the taxi lobby to challenge the environmental impacts of a cycle route, let’s hope it’s a last gasp.”
TfL confirmed to road.cc it addressed the LTDA's concerns previously and believes the protected cycle lanes will have a positive impact on London.
Howard Carter, General Counsel, TfL, said: “We have received the LTDA’s Judicial Review claim and, despite having addressed their points previously, will respond formally in due course.
"Construction of the East-West Cycle Superhighway is progressing well and although we are having to work hard to manage areas of temporary congestion around the construction sites, the end result will make London’s roads safer for all, particularly cyclists.”
The LTDA threatened to delay construction of the 18-mile route with judicial review earlier in the year on the basis that replacing traffic lanes with bike lanes would increase congestion and therefore pollution. However, they later withdrew the threat, their head Steve McNamara saying London needs protected bike routes and he didn't want blood on his hands caused by any delays.
— LdnCyclingCampaign (@london_cycling) August 18, 2015
Smyth points out the Victoria Embankment, one of the most contentious parts of the route for the Association, is one of three places in London that exceeds EU air pollution limits and believes the cycle route, by reducing traffic, will help improve air quality. Part of the Cycle Superhighway on the Victoria Embankment is nearly complete (pictured above). It has been estimated London taxis are responsible for 30% of particle emissions in Central London, while carrying just 1% of passengers.
Road.cc has contacted the LTDA for response.