Over 70 per cent of respondents to a Transport for London (TfL) consultation about the Holland Park cycle scheme believe that the proposals would encourage more people to cycle. 58 per cent said they thought it would encourage more people to walk. In June, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) said that it would not be backing the new route despite having agreed to the consultation.
There were 5,386 responses to the consultation, including from 56 organisations or individuals that TfL considered to be ‘stakeholders’.
As well as widespread belief that the plans would be beneficial for active travel, the report also reveals that 43 per cent of respondents thought the proposals would mean more people would use public transport, while 53 per cent thought they would mean fewer people using private transport for personal journeys and 34 per cent thought they would mean fewer people using private transport for business journeys.
RBKC initially adopted a neutral position, pending the outcome of this consultation, but then unexpectedly announced that it would oppose it before the results were in.
London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, reacted angrily, saying that people would die, “as a direct result of this cynical political stunt.”
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.”
RBKC council leader, Elizabeth Campbell, said it had received 1,000 letters or emails about the scheme. When The Guardian asked how many were actually in support of the scheme, RBKC was unable to provide a response.
The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has made it clear that it supports the proposals and TfL is working to finalise its plans for this part of the scheme.
Regarding the RBKC stretch, a TfL spokesperson said: “We have developed a series of improvements that could be made to our proposals in Kensington & Chelsea, and which we believe would satisfy and resolve the concerns that some people had with our proposals.
“We have had initial discussions with the Royal Borough about these improvements, and intend to discuss them with key local stakeholder groups.
“No decisions have yet been made on whether our proposals with these improvements incorporated could be introduced within the Royal Borough, and discussions will continue with the Royal Borough and local stakeholders.”
The amended proposals are said to include keeping 20 out of 25 trees along the route that were originally going to be removed.
The TfL consultation report also includes the comments of a group representing residents of the affluent London district of Holland Park, who insist that no safe cycling infrastructure should be built there until cyclists are licensed.
The Holland Park Residents’ Association suggests that a segregated cycling route could encourage “poor cycling behaviour.”