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Deputy mayor for transport accuses obstructive councils of “holding the city to ransom”

Transport for London (TfL) could take control of roads where boroughs are blocking planned safe cycling infrastructure with Heidi Alexander, the capital’s deputy mayor for transport, accusing certain councils of “holding the city to ransom.”

Last month, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) announced it would not support a planned cycleway along Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate, both roads for which it is responsible, despite the fact a public consultation into the proposals was still ongoing.

> Pressure mounts on Kensington & Chelsea to explain cycleway “opposition”

A section of the route from Wood Lane to Shepherd’s Bush roundabout will be built, and lies on ‘Red Route’ roads which are controlled by TfL rather than RBKC.

Elsewhere in the borough, a planned cycleway from Brentford towards the city centre will finish where it meets the RKBC boundary at Olympia, rather than proceeding along Kensington High Street and ultimately linking up with the Cycle Superhighway 3 at Hyde Park.

In February this year, the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court decision from last September which found in favour of the City of Westminster regarding the planned Cycle Superhighway 11 from Swiss Cottage to the West End.

> Court of Appeal upholds Westminster's legal block to Cycle Superhighway 11 - campaigners brand council's action "shameful"

The borough had successfully argued that TfL had acted unlawfully in starting work at Swiss Cottage before necessary consents had been obtained for the entirety of the route, part of which was also planned to pass through Regent’s Park, effectively scuppering the scheme.

The Evening Standard reports that Alexander has now asked TfL to examine whether it would be feasible to add Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate to the capital’s network of Red Routes.

She told TfL’s Programmes and Investment Committee: “What is so upsetting is how premature the decision was on the part of Kensington and Chelsea.”

Part of the opposition to the scheme was due to the planned removal of a number of trees on the route, but Alexander said: “While we can always replace trees, we can’t replace limbs when people are injured in very serious collisions.

“We need to find a way to stop central London boroughs from holding the rest of the city to ransom when it comes to delivering safer cycling routes.”

Adding roads currently under individual boroughs’ control to the Red Routes network may not be straightforward, however, with the Evening Standard pointing out that it would need to be approved by the secretary of state for transport, as well as being likely to be agreed by the local authority itself.

A spokesman for RBKC said: “Our position represents the clear view of residents. The Mayor and TfL would be ill-advised to ride roughshod over those views.

“Our door remains open for further discussion on a project if it can win the support of local people and local businesses.”

Last month, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan praised three south-east London boroughs – Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich – for their support for segregated cycling infrastructure, on the same day he sent a strongly worded letter to the leader of RBKC regarding its decision not to support the cycleway through Holland Park and Notting Hill.

> Work to start on London’s Cycleway 4 with Sadiq Khan praising supportive boroughs

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.