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Plans to rip out Hackney cycle lane will stop people from cycling, say campaigners

Current consultation offers no space for cycling options - campaigners say council needs to redesign with residents

Plans to remove a cycle lane in Hackney and make a busy one-way street two way without any space for cycling have been criticised by residents who weren't consulted on the designs before they were drawn up, while campaigners say it will sever a popular bike route.

Residents, and those who travel through the area, are now being asked to support or reject the £700,000 designs, under consultation, which could see Wick Road, in Homerton, changed from a one way into a two-way street, while a short section of two-way cycle track will be removed. There are no options to keep or improve the cycle infrastructure in the consultation.

A Freedom of Information request by campaigners shows that no residents were consulted on the plans. One resident's petition against the plans is expected to launch in the coming days, road.cc has learned.

Ruth-Anna Macqueen, of Hackney People on Bikes, said the plans have "absolutely no dedicated space for cycling" even though, she says, there is space for segregated bike lanes on Wick Road, and there is a school on the road, which some families cycle to.

She said: "The removal of the cycle lane is a big issue because it is a quiet route that is heavily used and it provides a link between two quieter streets that will then become unusable for people who aren't happy to use the main carriageway.

"A number of families with children who cycle to school have said they just won't be able to, they will either have to stop cycling or cycle on the pavement."

At present those cycling can ride from Barnabas Road to Bradstock Road without joining traffic on Wick Road, thanks to the cycle track. Its removal will sever this link, Hackney People on Bikes says.

Macqueen is calling the Wick Road Plans a "litmus test" for Hackney Council.

"I think it is a bit of a litmus test - they can't blame TfL [Transport for London], they can't blame space, it totally comes down to ideology," she says.

"We need to be putting in provision that is going to last for the next few decades. We know that Hackney cycling is dominated by young fit people in their 20s and 30s, we need to provide for the majority of people in Hackney who aren't cycling - children, teenagers, the elderly, families."

Wick Road "Blighted" by traffic

Dr Rachel Aldred, a transport academic who regularly rides on Wick Road, says the area is "blighted" by traffic, and how to get through a series of busy streets on bike hasn't been considered. She said she would like to see the council start from scratch with the plans, this time asking residents what they want.

She said: "This is an area that has major problems with severance and this scheme should be a chance to try and reclaim more of the space for walking and cycling rather than just change it from a busy one way road to a busy two way road."

She said Hackney has done some good work with parks and filtered permeability (routes closed to through traffic but open to through bike traffic) and while this scheme was "not good at all" if it went ahead then keeping the two-way bike track would be an "absolute necessity".

She said: "First and foremost it should be about residents because they have got to live with these big roads through the area."

Both Macqueen and Aldred voiced frustration at a situation where other councils are making ambitious plans for cycling and Hackney is proposing to "rip out" cycle routes.

Councillor calls bike track "redundant"

Councillor Vincent Stops told the Hackney Citizen he thought converting the road to two-way was a “fantastic scheme” that would lead to more direct bus services and cycle journeys.

Cllr Stops said: “This scheme will mean slower, safer speeds. One-way systems were put in, in the sixties and seventies, to increase traffic capacity so it is bizarre that some are making the case that taking them out would increase traffic.

“The cycle lane on the pavement was installed to facilitate two-way cycling and so now becomes redundant for most cyclists.”

Consultation closes 10 July.

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