The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) says it will not support a proposed cycle lane through Holland Park, despite having agreed to a consultation that is still underway. London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, branded the decision “a disgrace.”
A public meeting organised by the Kensington Society was held yesterday evening about the proposed improvements between Wood Lane and Notting Hill Gate.
After the Transport for London team and Will Norman had presented, and before any questions from the public, RBKC announced that it was not going to support the scheme on their roads.
This is despite the fact the consultation is due to run until Sunday.
Norman said: “The council’s actions are a disgrace – they originally supported consulting the public on the plans, and now midway have shamelessly decided to ditch their support, making a mockery of the idea of listening to the public.”
The route was identified in TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis as an important corridor for existing and potential cycling journeys.
The analysis showed that the corridor was in the top five per cent for London-wide current and potential cycling demand and also saw large numbers of collisions involving vulnerable road users.
Despite this, there have inevitably been those who have been campaigning against the work.
These include Jeremy Clarkson, who suggested that the route would see a number of trees chopped down, and actress Felicity Kendal, who told the London Evening Standard that the proposals would “cause considerable lack of trade to the area” by requiring a “short-sighted” reduction in parking spaces.
Norman, concedes that two big trees will be chopped down – “neither in good condition” – but says that more trees will be planted than will be taken out.
“People will die and suffer serious injuries as a direct result of this cynical political stunt,” he said. “The Council’s stubborn opposition to making the borough safer for cyclists and pedestrians is putting residents at risk.
“This stretch of road simply isn’t safe. There have been 275 collisions over the last three years alone, and the vast majority of serious injuries have been to cyclists and pedestrians. Our plans would change this – making it easier to cross busy roads with 15 new pedestrian crossings, and a segregated space for people to cycle safely in west London.
“Many councils across London are going out of their way to make their streets safer, greener and less polluted places, but Kensington and Chelsea are simply refusing to change. They’re harming the wellbeing of their residents and are quite frankly on the wrong side of history.”
Councillor Johnny Thalassites, Lead Member for Transport and Planning at RBKC, responded: “It is not a political stunt to listen to local residents and businesses, reflect their views, and ask for a rethink on their behalf.
“We are surprised that TfL have taken such an aggressive tone, when around 400 people sat in a hall last night to tell them that their plans don’t work.
“We’ve told TfL that we cannot support plans for a segregated cycle lane on Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate – it risks causing congestion and damaging local air quality.”