Council presidents tear up “catastrophic” Covid bike lanes on Kensington High Street after Tory politicians said the program “didn’t work”.
Kensington and Chelsea Council said the lanes would be removed by Wednesday after receiving “hundreds of emails from local residents” speaking out against the program.
The move has been welcomed by Tory politicians including Shaun Bailey, who is running for Mayor of London, MP Felicity Buchan and Westminster Alderman Tony Devenish.
But the council is now facing calls for reimbursement of around £ 300,000 of handouts used to set up the controversial alleys during the pandemic.
And the teachers and cyclists in the district are protesting against the decision to tear out the lanes by taking part in the “festive driving fun” from 8:00 am tomorrow.
This month, actor Nigel Havers slammed the back alleys on Kensington High Street, claiming they caused it Chaos in the area.
The initiative, launched in September to get visitors back to the high street amid the pandemic, saw the city council receive £ 313,000 in transportation for London’s Streetspace Fund.
Kensington and Chelsea City Councils face calls for the return of £ 300,000 in government money after deciding to remove bike lanes from Kensington Hight Street. Pictured: cyclists wait at a traffic light on the bike path
Will Norman, the mayor of London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said he would try to reclaim the government’s money so it could be spent on other areas in the capital
Will Norman, the mayor of London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said the council has blocked three major security programs and will try to reclaim the government’s money so it can be spent on other areas in the capital.
He told The Evening Standard, “You finally agreed to do this [the Kensington scheme] but they take it out before it’s even finished.
“People die on these streets. I am so mad about it. There have been so many collisions and serious injuries that there must be a safe route through West London. ‘
While Justin Abbott, chairman of the local Better Streets volunteer group for Kensington and Chelsea, said there is no rush to remove the bike lanes.
He said: “There is obviously no rush to tear out a security scheme with no safe alternative on a road that is extremely dangerous.”
Meanwhile, Fox Primary School in Kensington announced that it had organized a protesting “festive drive” to show its support for the controversial streets.
In a message on Twitter, the school wrote, “Fox Primary School is inviting anyone who wants important employees and children to have a safe route to school or work to sign up for a FESTIVE JOYRIDE along the new Kensington High Street Cycle to report trail at 8am Tuesday December 1st. ‘
The backlash comes after the local council, which initially opened the lanes to encourage visitors to return to the high street, announced it would remove the lanes due to concerns about congestion, bus travel times and loading.
Action obstruction Kensington and Chelsea also raised concerns that taxis and cars cannot safely drop passengers on sidewalks.
In a clip posted on Twitter, Ms. Buchan, the MP for Kensington, said, “We are just outside Kensington High Street and we came this morning to see the traffic.
Fox Primary School announced that it had organized a socially distant protest drive to show its support for lanes
The city council confirmed that the lanes intended to bring visitors back onto the main road would be removed by December 2nd. Pictured: A cyclist uses the bike path on Kensington High Street
MP Felicity Buchan (left) and Tony Devenish said the scheme did not work and called for the lanes to be removed
“I really wanted the bike path on Kensington High Street to work, but unfortunately it didn’t.
“It didn’t work for pedestrians, it didn’t work for the elderly, it didn’t work for the disabled. So reluctantly, I ask the council to get off the bike path on Kensington High Street. ‘
London Assembly Member Mr. Devenish added: “I would like to thank our residents and resident associations for working with RBKC to actually review this program.
“It was a good idea, but I’m afraid it didn’t work. And now we have to take it out asap. ‘
In a joint statement, the politicians also said: “TfL has always put RBKC under enormous pressure to implement a cycle path scheme and threatened to take over the city streets. It is now clear that TfL has grossly miscalculated the effects of such systems, which require careful analysis.
‘We wholeheartedly encourage RBKC to look into expanding their hugely successful Quietways program, and we note the success of other initiatives like Portobello Road. Everything that is done to promote active travel must be safe, fair and balanced for all road users, including the elderly, children and the disabled.
‘We want the bike lane to remain in place until the current closure on December 2nd ends.
“However, we believe that once we end the lockdown, this system needs to be lifted as soon as possible so that businesses along the high street can have a period of free business in the run-up to Christmas and follow the very real-life difficulties they face during the coronavirus restrictions.
“Kensington High Street is just not the place and we must act in the interests of our constituents.”
The initiative, which gave the City Council £ 313,000 from Transport for London’s Streetspace Fund, was launched in September to bring visitors back to the High Street. Pictured: cyclists ride through Kensington High Street
Commenting on the decision, Cllr Johnny Thalassites, Lead Member for Transport, said, “The bike path was a testing program to help those who get on bikes during the lockdown and encourage shoppers to move on to the high street. Businesses and local residents have told us loudly and clearly that they believe the experiment didn’t work. We are listening.
“By removing the temporary lockdown lifts, we hope to get the High Street moving again and give our local economy the best possible chance of a good December.”
Tom Frost, Chair of the Kensington Business Forum, said, “We support any project that helps our business community and we commend the council’s efforts to quickly design and implement the temporary bike lanes in accordance with government policy.
Nigel Havers said the “dreaded new bike lanes” had wreaked havoc in the Kensington area
‘Like many others, we hoped the initiative would be a success. Unfortunately, it hasn’t helped our high street companies attract customers at a time that is important to them. So it is good news that the lanes are being removed.
“As a community, we need to protect our local business owners, and the temporary bike lanes have provided us with valuable information for potential future programs.”
Michael Stone, Chairman of the Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and Commerce, said, “The bike path as it is now is having a negative impact on business on Kensington High Street and beyond, and we are helping to remove it.
“The pre-Christmas trading period is critical for many businesses. I encourage everyone to stay safe, shop locally, and support your local business community.”
While Jamie Renton, General Manager of Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea said, “We have around 1,000 disabled members who are experts by experience. So it’s good to see the council hear our experience and remove the temporary bike lanes on Kensington High Street.
‘We were concerned about less safe places for cars to drop off disabled passengers and confusing layout changes, especially for the visually impaired. We’d like to support cycling and walking, but we need to make sure the high street is accessible to everyone. ‘
Earlier this month, West Sussex officials decided to remove the bike lanes criticized for congestion in Crawley, East Grinstead, Horsham, Shoreham and Worthing.
The figures showed that the number of cyclists in the city fell sharply after the initiative was launched in September.