Cycle Superhighway 11 – Yet Another Legal Battle?

To follow on from my last blog post about current and future legal cases, another pending one is the application for a judicial review by Westminster City Council and a campaign group both opposing the route of Cycle Superhighway 11 (CS11). This runs through Swiss Cottage and Regents Park but there have been many objections from residents north of the Park due to the likely increased traffic congestion and the closure of Regents Park to vehicles. A very active public campaign against the proposals was run by local activists, countered by the usual vociferous cyclists’ groups who even alleged that tacks had been sprinkled in the Park as a protest against the cyclists.

Westminster are also blocking the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street – again because of the many objections from local residents. This is what Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office had to say: “There is an urgent need for safer cycle routes into central London and there is an equally strong case for pedestrianising Oxford Street. The idea that Westminster Council think they can hold the rest of London to ransom is totally unacceptable. Both of these schemes have significant public support. They will make a real difference to making London’s streets safer and cleaner and they shouldn’t be held up by petty political posturing.”

TfL intends to start work almost immediately on CS11 at Swiss Cottage, but legal proceedings may halt work on the stretch that runs through Westminster.

Comment: If Sadiq Khan wonders why he is getting entangled in legal battles it is because he is not listening to a major proportion of the population, or the people most affected by his proposals. Cyclists may support the changes in Regents Park but favouring their views alone and ignoring others is not what democracy is about. There needs to be a compromise that satisfies everyone and which does not change the status quo to the major disadvantage of one group versus another. It is of course the same reason why the Mayor is supporting a legal challenge over Heathrow airport – because the Government is not listening, and why so many people don’t like the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. The latter is a strategy that favours young, active people who live in central London and ignores large swathes of the capital’s population.

When politicians stop listening, the law tends to be invoked. Nobody goes to law if they can avoid it because it is a very expensive and time-consuming process for even the simplest case (and judicial reviews are potentially simple but rarely are in practice). Westminster Council should not be criticised for listening to the electorate and pursuing their concerns.

On the subject of “not listening”, I have requested a meeting with the new Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander, but she has refused it. More on that at a later date.

Roger Lawson

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Cycle Superhighway 11 Goes Ahead, but Another Halted

There have been lots of complaints about the proposed Cycle Superhighway 11 between Swiss Cottage and the West End running through Regents Park. Transport for London (TfL) have made some minor changes to the scheme but otherwise it is going ahead. Some further consultation on the Regents Park routes is being done however. See https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/cs-11/  for TfLs note on this subject.

However the objectors are not at all happy. The main campaign against said “TfL and Camden Condemn Thousands of Residents And Commuters To Years Of Congestion And Misery” and “Despite months of detailed meetings with us and other local stakeholders where we have repeatedly raised your concerns about unacceptable traffic “reassignment” onto residential streets, increased pollution, increased disruption and severe adverse impact on the emergency services, disabled, businesses and road users who rely on motor vehicles, TfL (and Camden Council under the shameful direction of their Councillor Phil Jones – Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Transport & Planning) have condemned thousands of people to years of misery from CS11 construction works and associated impacts. TfL have only made minor, meaningless tweaks to the original CS11 scheme including: Allowing a right turn from the bottom of Fitzjohns Avenue / College Crescent into Finchley Road northbound and re-introducing a banned turn right from Finchley Road into Hilgrove Road (which we pointed out to them will cause traffic to back up all the way along Finchley Road).

Yes it seems that TfL is yet again ignoring the views of road users other than cyclists in the name of the policy to get us all cycling. There is more information here, including how to object: https://www.change.org/p/transport-for-london-stop-transport-for-london-s-ill-planned-cycle-superhighway-11-scheme-in-north-london/u/18804455?utm_medium=email&utm_source=notification&utm_campaign=petition_update

Cycle Superhighway on Westway Abandoned?

Reports in LTT and elsewhere have suggested that the Cycle Superhighway planned to run along the A40 from Paddington to Action which was proposed to run along one lane of the Westway has been axed by the Mayor. This would have taken up one lane of that elevated road, but with existing traffic volumes that might not have been an issue. The Mayor is now denying that the route has been abandoned, although the exact routing may be changed.

Comment: This all seems very odd to me because that seemed to be one of the few cycle superhighway routes that would not have created massive congestion and inconvenience to other road users, as the others have done. It seems likely there were doubts about its usage by cyclists, and perhaps the cost was a problem when Sadiq Khan’s budget for TFL is proving to be ever more unrealistic.

Roger Lawson

TfL’s Damaging Proposals for Cycle Superhighway 11

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.

Danny Michelson