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View from the street: Debate on CS11 is about strangling key routes

PUBLISHED: 15:30 04 October 2018

copyright Fiona Campbell 2014

In his letter last week, Matt Winfield, London Director of Sustrans, disagreed with my letter of September 6.

I wrote that letter because I was shocked by his ill-informed comments, as a contractor to Tramsport for London (TfL), about a successful Westminster win in the CS11 legal action.

His arias of outrage were all the more startling because Westminster stood up for its residents against TfL’s goliathan obduracy and institutional arrogance, unlike Camden Council who abandoned its residents.

His comment demonstrated an unmoving irrationality about the plight of residents and thousands of young children who would be forced to breathe in more polluted air due to displaced traffic from the planned cycle route. This blinkered approach demonstrated the myopic view now at the heart of TfL given that Sustrans is its “delivery agent”.

He saw the legal action as an obstruction to reasonable progress towards making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

Did he even follow what this litigation was about? It was not to block safe cycling but to require TfL to provide information which it had promised, but failed to deliver, so that the full impact of CS11 could be understood.

He objects to my comment that “TfL and Sustrans are likely to inflict a catastrophic impact on the lives of residents etc” and sees the cycling super plan as a “reallocation of some road space to safely accommodate people on bikes” and to “move away from a car dominated approach”.

I reiterate that Sustrans’ involvement in the management of the UK’s road space through TfL and other local councils around the country is resulting in severe and increased congestion and lost productivity costs for London and the country. Let me explain.

The government has allocated £1.4 billion to transform 80 per cent of journeys by car to walking and cycling and TfL has allocated hundreds of millions to cycling infrastructure while running a billion pound deficit making it unaffordable to refurbish its road infrastructure, most notably the Marylebone flyover. Sustrans is an influential partner in the delivery of cycling infrastructure around the country.

This emphasis on cycle infrastructure for a small part of the road user class ignores the plight of the UK economy and other road users and is a sustained attempt to strangle London’s key routes which move people and goods which contribute to London’s GDP.

Following the cycle superhighway on the Embankment, it is at a standstill. Others up and down the country result in gridlocked streets bordered by cycle lanes which, other than during rush hour, are virtually empty. Traffic delays are up. From Cambridge to Cornwall, residential streets are being turned into rat runs by desperate motorists looking for a way past the jams and there are lengthy delays in Manchester.

In 2017 in London, congestion cost £9.5bn in lost productivity and hundreds of millions in other cities.

The debate is not about making cycling safer but of strangling the country’s key routes to force vehicles off the road on the assumption that drivers will not start earlier and stay in their vehicles for longer. In real world terms, journeys are taking longer and businesses moving goods and freight have to employ more vans and people to guarantee deliveries, increasing pollution and congestion.

So, my comment about a catastrophic impact inflicted by TfL and Sustrans is probably generous to them both.

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