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.
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.
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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.