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Liverpool’s climate emergency chief decides to rip out pop-up cycle lane

#BikeIsBest says “deeply worrying” development calls into question council’s commitment to tackling climate change

Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for climate emergency, transport and environment has said that a protected cycle lane installed on the city’s West Derby Road will be removed, saying it was installed with no consultation and has caused motor traffic congestion, resulting in a leading cycling campaign group questioning the council’s commitment to tackling climate change.

The lane, connecting Liverpool’s eastern corridor to the city centre, was put in place by the Labour-run council in May last year in response to transport secretary Grant Shapps’ appeal to local authorities to provide more space to cyclists and pedestrians due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The city council said at the time that it planned to open seven such routes, covering a total of 100 kilometres, and invited people to provide comments and feedback via the Liveable Streets Liverpool website.

But in a statement published today on the council’s Liverpool Express website, Councillor Daniel Barrington said: “I’ve had a number of concerns since the pop-up cycle lane on West Derby Road was first introduced. It was brought in without consultation with local residents, businesses and councillors. It has caused major congestion and has disadvantaged bus users along this route.

“When I became cabinet member for climate change, transport and environment, I ordered a review to take place on the pop-up cycle lane infrastructure, with the aim of finding a way to create cycling provision, while retaining two lanes of traffic,” he continued. “I have always said if that was not possible, then I would remove the cycle lane in both directions. 

“That review has not concluded, but with the opening up of the sinkhole on Prescot Road last Friday night, a decision has had to be made now. I have decided that the inbound cycle lane – heading towards the city centre – will be removed.”

“We will still look at alternative routes for cycling, but please rest assured, that I will not agree to a cycle lane being reintroduced on West Derby Road that prohibits two lanes of traffic,” he added.

“In particular, I want us to look at Cycle Route 5 which goes through Newsham Park and what improvements could be made there.”

A number of councils have removed segregated cycleways introduced last year with the help of funding from the Department for Transport in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Those include the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), which took out lanes on each side of Kensington High Street less than two months after they had been introduced, and South Gloucestershire, which removed a cycle lane in Filton just days after it had been put in place, in response to complaints from motorists.

As we reported at the weekend applications for judicial review of the termination of two specific schemes – the one in RBKC mentioned above, and the Keyhole Bridge in Poole, which had been temporarily closed to motor traffic – are pending, and the charity Cycling UK has appealed against the rejection in May of an application for a judicial review of a scheme on the A270 at Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex.

> Department for Transport say councils must give walking and cycling schemes time

Meanwhile, minister of state for transport Chris Heaton-Harris has said that the government is revising statutory guidance to local transport authorities “which will make clear that they should always leave cycling and walking schemes in place for long enough for their impacts to be properly assessed.”

Adam Tranter, founder of the campaign group #BikeIsBest, which brings together leading cycling brands, retailers and organisations, said the removal of cycle routes by councils shortly after they have been introduced was “deeply worrying.”

He said: “There is no getting away from the fact that if we’re going to get more people cycling to help tackle the climate emergency then we will need to reallocate road space from motor traffic.

“It is deeply worrying that, in some local areas, political leaders do not even have the will to keep in new cycle routes.

“If they can’t achieve this then we need to ask ourselves if it’s realistic for those leaders to be able to handle the enormity of the climate crisis,” he added.

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.

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