London’s Mayor is considering “all possible options” to reinstate a temporary cycle lane along Kensington High Street after the local council removed bollards last week that provided protected space for those on two wheels.
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Sadiq Khan’s office said the Mayor is keen to “support the thousands of cyclists who were using the cycle lane every day”. Transport for London figures suggest that nearly 4000 cyclists were using it in early October, levels that are normally seen only in summer months.
Meanwhile a group called BetterStreets4KC is looking to pursue legal action to reinstate the cycle facility. “This road is statistically more dangerous than others in the area and we need those bollards back,” its chair Justin Abbott told TP Weekly News. “Levels of congestion were unaffected by the cycle scheme.”
Writing on Twitter last week, London’s Mayor described the cycle lane as “well used” and “providing a safe route to school and work. Kensington & Chelsea Council must rethink the decision to scrap it.”
His walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman claimed that council leaders who voted to remove the lane are “putting the convenience of car drivers over the lives of local residents”.
A ‘save the lane’ protest last week saw hundreds of cyclists of all ages turn up to ride the route. Notices were also placed on several bollards advising they had been ‘adopted’ by local children.
The London Cycling Campaign’s infrastructure campaigner Simon Still described Kensington High Street as the ‘missing link’ in a safe cycle route that would otherwise have stretched from Brentford in the west to Dagenham in the east.
The council, he claimed, “has consistently opposed every proposal for a protected east-west route through the borough, first objecting to a Westway route, then to a Holland Park Avenue scheme and now pulling out this trial scheme even before Transport for London had reworked the junctions.”
The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea said two business groups and a disabled charity had written to the council asking that the temporary lane be removed in time for Christmas. It added that it had listened to feedback before making the decision to remove it.
Councillor Johnny Thalassites added: “The cycle lane was a trial scheme to help those hopping on bikes during lockdowns and encourage shoppers to the High Street. Businesses and residents have told us loud and clear that they believe the experiment has not worked.”
The council added that any threats of legal action or financial penalties will make no difference to its decision to remove the cycle lane. “London boroughs aren’t here to be bullied into submission through sanctions,” a spokesman said.
(Photograph: London Cycling Campaign)