CS11: Cyclists warn of injury risk as Swiss Cottage work is delayed
- Credit: Archant
Cycling campaigners have warned that CS11 could be “kicked into the long grass” and lead to riders getting injured at the Swiss Cottage gyratory.
Simon Munk from the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) said if the work was delayed in the long-term, incidents could happen such as that at Old Street last week, where a cyclist was hit by a cement mixer and left fighting for her life.
A consultation was done between November 2014 and January 2015 into transforming that roundabout but work isn’t due to start until 2019.
Simon said: “One of the first things I did when I started at LCC was speaking to a man whose leg had been mangled when he was hit by a lorry at Swiss Cottage.
“A woman has been very badly hurt at Old Street, in a scheme that has been delayed and pushed back.
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“There’s a risk of this being kicked into the long grass. We have seen the Swiss Cottage gyratory have an awful safety record. It needs to be sorted.”
Sustrans, the national charity for cyclists and pedestrians, has also criticised Westminster City Council for taking TfL to a judicial review.
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Ben Addy, head of collaborative design for Sustrans in London, said the council had made a decision on “unfounded fears rather than clear evidence”.
In a two-and-a-half hour hearing last Thursday, a High Court judge passed the borough’s bid for an injunction and a judicial review into the cycle superhighway.
Mr Justice Holgate heard Westminster City Council believed Transport for London (TfL) hadn’t properly modelled traffic for parts of the route, including through St John’s Wood.
Tristan Jones, acting for the borough, also alleged TfL hadn’t properly shared documents with Westminster City Council.
But this was rebuffed by TfL, which said it had shared the same information for the plans with consultants from the council as it had on the Oxford Street pedestrianisation plans.
The High Court also heard the transport body hadn’t shown why the Swiss Cottage gyratory work and work on the 100 Avenue Road plans needed to take place simultaneously. Mr Jones said: “There has been no explanation why they must be done at the same time.”
Andrew Parkinson, assisting the claimant, raised campaigners’ concerns the gyratory section would increase traffic elsewhere in the route, including in Hampstead. Meanwhile Timothy Straker QC, representing TfL, said the council’s “sudden” withdrawal was “politically motivated”. He alleged that Westminster’s backing of the plans was dropped after May’s local elections.
The Conservative-run authority jettisoned support for the Oxford Street works at around the same time.
Several times during the hearing, Mr Justice Holgate aired his frustrations. He said one authority taking the other to court was “like nothing I’ve seen before”.
“Why is the court being troubled by this?” he said. He urged the two parties to have informal mediation talks, and said they should be working together to agree the scheme.
Simon, who has worked at LCC since 2015, said he believes the council’s actions show it is disconnected from residents.
“The legal bid is really a side show. Westminster City Council are out of step with their own residents on this issue. They are making decision and policy based on the needs and wants of drivers from outside the borough.
“They’re working in a very old fashioned way. Not as many residents now have cars and they are prioritising residents from out of London coming into the area.”
The judicial review will take place on September 6. It is expected to last one day.
The work that was set to start in Swiss Cottage this week has now been delayed indefinitely while the judicial review takes place.
Meanwhile, campaigners on the other side of the debate, who have voiced fears CS11 will push traffic into residential streets, were much more pleased. Jessica Learmond-Criqui told the Ham&High: “We are obviously delighted that the judge expressly acknowledged and recognised the concerns of residents about ran running and traffic displacement into Hampstead and St John’s Wood.
“We were very ably assisted by the brilliant planning barrister Andrew Parkinson and couldn’t have done it without him.”
Despite the setback, Simon believes the scheme will go ahead.
“Research shows that they are beneficial,” he said. “There’s no reason other cycle superhighways would be approved, only for the courts to say ‘well, you can’t do this one’ for CS11.”