The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) says that residents’ concerns about increased congestion are among its reasons for refusing to back a proposed cycle lane between Wood Lane and Notting Hill Gate. The council says that residents have also written to raise concerns over loss of trees and bus stops.
At a public meeting on Thursday night, RBKC announced that it would not be backing the new cycle route proposed by Transport for London (TfL).
The news took London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman by surprise as RBKC had previously agreed to a consultation, which is due to run until Sunday.
“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.”
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.”
As we reported yesterday, RBKC has received more than 450 emails from local residents who are against the scheme.
The chief concern has been increased congestion. An RBKC spokesperson said: “TfL’s traffic modelling, provided in the consultation material, acknowledges that westbound journey times in particular would increase as a result of the scheme, despite a number of modifications to junctions and traffic signal phasing to mitigate the reduction in capacity.
“It is clear that for large numbers of our residents, any significant increase in congestion along this corridor is unacceptable. A four-to-five minute increase on a 20-30 minute bus journey could mean a 20 per cent increase (Routes 94 and 148 Westbound, morning peak). And on Route 31, the potential increases in journey time are over 40 per cent (Eastbound, evening peak).
“For general traffic, the forecasts show several instances where journey times could increase by two-thirds, and some by more than that. While some of the eastbound journey times would be shorter, all of the westbound journey times shown in the three sections of road in our borough, for both morning and evening peaks, would be longer.”
Norman said: “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.”