Transport for London (TfL) are proposing to install a new Cycle Superhighway in London, with dedicated cycle lanes linking Swiss Cottage to the edge of the West End at the northern end of Regent Street.
To facilitate this scheme, dubbed CS11, they also plan to make dramatic changes to arterial through routes and surrounding roads in the NW3 and NW8 areas. The main proposals are to replace the one-way gyratory system around Swiss Cottage with two-way streets; close off the northern end of Avenue Road to all traffic except buses; close the rest of Avenue Road – a main route into central London – to traffic for 20 out of 24 hours a day; and close four out of the eight gates to the Outer Circle of Regent’s park, also for 20 out of 24 hours a day. Dedicated cycle lanes will be installed over this route, further squeezing traffic onto less road space.
Accompanying this, and evidently in some misguided attempt to aid the flow of traffic in this new layout, TfL are planning to ban various right and left turns off Finchley Road in its approach to Swiss Cottage, making it extremely difficult to reach neighbourhoods such as Belsize Park by car.
Into this mix comes central government’s long term plans for the construction of HS2, the new high speed rail link to the midlands and north of England, which include the building of a railway tunnel under Adelaide Road (another road leading into Swiss Cottage), and of two massive ventilation shafts – one in Adelaide Road and the other one near Fairfax Road, also in the Swiss Cottage area.
In a nutshell, these two unconnected projects will inevitably clash with, and intrude on each other, resulting in massive disruption, traffic congestion, increased air pollution, and absolute hell for local residents – for up to sixteen years, the timescale for completing the HS2 works. On its own, if CS11 in its proposed form goes ahead this will be bad enough. However, combined with the estimated hundreds of HS2 lorries that are expected to be using the roads in this area every day, the mind boggles as to the impact this will have. TfL’s response to this is that they don’t think it will be a major problem.
Needless to say, the CS11 plans have been met with fierce opposition from residents and road users. A consultation resulted in a 60% approval, but it was later revealed that TfL had canvassed every single cycling club in Greater London, including many south of the river in areas nowhere near the affected area, to take part in the consultation.
However, various protest groups have been formed to try and persuade TfL to either moderate their plans or abandon them altogether, with petitions organised and approaches made to MPs and officers of TfL and Westminster and Camden councils. No final decision has yet been made. Westminster Council are opposed to the CS11 proposals, and Camden council partly opposed. Putting off CS11 until later is not an option because of the sixteen-year timescale of the HS2 works.
In the meantime, rumour has it that TfL will now scrap the plan to close the four gates to the Outer Circle. The cycling fraternity will not be happy. Anyone driving around the Outer Circle these days knows that this road has almost been hijacked to be used as a training circuit for two-wheeled enthusiasts. Supporters of CS11 have called the Outer Circle a dangerous rat run, which is complete nonsense. It is only subject to light traffic, and most of any danger that might exist comes from mobs of cyclists crowding out other vehicles.
Anyone with an interest in this matter can look up the CS11 plans on the TfL website, and the main protest website, www.cs11.london . Please give the latter your support.