Opponents of one of London’s Cycle Superhighways have fundamentally misunderstood the scheme and are misrepresenting the facts to oppose it, according to London’s Cycling Commissioner. Some individuals concerned about the potential effect on congestion and local business have incorrectly claimed traffic lanes will be removed and have even got the proposed route wrong in campaigning material and interviews with local media, contrary to the evidence in consultation material.
Cycle Superhighway 11 (CS11), is proposed to run from Swiss Cottage to the West End via Regent’s Park, and the London Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, told road.cc claims the scheme will cause gridlock and prevent people from accessing the park are among a raft of “made up” claims by opponents.
Local cyclists who support the scheme say there is a week to save the route, and are urging people to show their support by completing the consultation, which ends this Sunday 20th March. Regent’s Park Cyclists have put together a suggested quick response for those who want to support the scheme, but they urge people to fill in all sections.
Andrew Gilligan told road.cc: “Genuinely I think people have fundamentally misunderstood what’s happening here. What we’re seeing is a lot of opposition to things we’re not actually proposing.”
Residents in Hampstead will meet on Wednesday to question Transport for London on the plans, which will transform Swiss Cottage’s one way gyratory (pictured, above), making part of it cycles and buses only, while becoming two way for motor traffic. It will also see rat running traffic banned from the park except from 11am-3pm, though vehicles will still be able to drive in.
Road.cc has seen an invitation to the meeting, which Gilligan points out contains a number of fundamental inaccuracies, something he says is “happening to an unusual extent on this scheme.”
He says: “[The invitation] says among, other things, that we’re going to take the cycle lane down Finchley Road, take out traffic lanes - that’s not true. It says you’re not going to be able to drive into Regent’s Park except between 11 and 3, well that’s not true, you can drive in, you just can’t drive through it - four of the gates will remain open. It says that we’re taking out the humps from the Outer Circle, we’re not. It says you’re not going to be able to drive from Fitzjohn’s Avenue to Swiss Cottage and again that’s untrue, and I worry that people are being led to oppose this scheme under false pretenses.
“We’ve seen this sort of thing before, of course: we’ve seen lots of people claiming that cycling schemes are going to cause Armageddon and it’s telling with this one the only way they can oppose it is to misrepresent it.”
He adds: “The [Regent's Park] Outer Circle wasn’t built as a way you could save a minute and a half on your journey from St Johns Wood, it was built as a place of recreation and pleasure. Equally Swiss Cottage at the moment is a deeply unpleasant gyratory which is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, and thoroughly unattractive for everyone. This [scheme] will create a new public space outside the library.”
TfL’s traffic modelling for CS11 predicts return journey times by car along Finchley Road will improve by approximately eight minutes if work goes ahead.
However, there is powerful opposition, including a 3000-strong petition, from those claiming the scheme will cause gridlock and rat-running on residential streets, while turning Regent’s Park into a “velodrome”.
Actor Tom Conti incorrectly told the Camden New Journal the route runs to Brent Cross, as well as asserting cyclists should be made to pay road tax, which doesn’t exist (drivers pay Vehicle Excise Duty, which is emissions-based, so even if it applied to cycles they would pay nothing).
One week to save CS11
Regent’s Park Cyclists was formed by cycling clubs who use the park, to show their support for CS11. A 150-strong ride in support of the route took place on Friday but the group’s chair, Justin McKie, has urged people to come out in favour of the scheme in greater numbers before Sunday by responding to the consultation.
He told road.cc: “People need to respond because we are up against a lot of local opposition who think it's ok to drive their kids to school in a 4x4, or through the park and into the city in a private car each day. Pollution in the area is way above the European limits.
“CS11 will encourage more people to use their bike as a healthy alternative, which long term is the only way we can solve the already terrible congestion and pollution. Congestion and Pollution in this part of London simply cannot get any worse.
“We need a place that people can walk their dogs, cycle their bikes, get to the Zoo without hundreds of cars using the park as a rat run.”
Upside Down Car in Regents Park - at lunchtime today. Speed cameras anyone? pic.twitter.com/jJU3M980uU
— RegentsParkCyclists (@RPcyclists) March 14, 2016
Gilligan adds if the chaos predicted by opponents comes to pass the scheme is reversible. “There is only one major piece of engineering on this [route], which is the removal of the gyratory. The rest of it consists of closing some gates. So if indeed the plague of locusts does descend and the economy of St Johns Wood does melt down we can just reopen the gates again quite quickly.”
The CS11 consultation is here, and closes on Sunday.