The new Conservative leader of Southampton City Council has said that a major bike lane in the Hampshire city will be ripped out “immediately” as the new administration looks to scrap a number of initiatives brought in by its Labour predecessors.
The pledge to remove the cycle lane on Bitterne Road West is in direct contradiction to transport secretary Grant Shapps’ policy of encouraging active travel as a major part of the government’s plans to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Temporary bus, cycle and taxi lanes were put in place on the road last year with the help of emergency active travel funding from the Department for Transport (DfT).
At the time the council said it was creating “Permanent schemes to create safer spaces for walking and cycling” with the aim of supporting “more people to travel sustainably, free up space on the roads and create a fairer, greener and healthier city.”
The Tories gained seven seats in last Thursday’s election to give it a control of the council.
Its new leader, Councillor Dan Fitzhenry has also promised to reverse the pedestrianisation last year of the city’s Bedford Place, reports the Daily Echo.
The new cabinet will also review the previous council’s £18.5 million transport plan, which has a heavy emphasis on promoting active travel and the use of public transport, as well as closing some roads to through traffic and installing cycle lanes by the civic centre.
“The current transport plan as it stands – which is Labour’s transport plan – is not something that we will be fully endorsing, ”Councillor Fitzhenry said.
"We will be reviewing it immediately. The pedestrianisation, the removal of main routes into the city, those things will not be staying but we will properly analyse what’s going on and then we’ll come forward with a revised plan shortly.
"We made the commitment to remove Bitterne bus lane, that will be happening as soon as we can,” he added.
The Tory Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith, who last year accused the council of making road traffic congestion worse through the installation of pop-up cycle lanes, welcomed their impending removal after the change of control.
“It's a really good day for Southampton and it's a really good day for the Conservatives,” he said.
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.