Editor’s view: Real grassroots change is needed before CS11 is forced on our area

An artists impression of CS11. Picture: TfL

An artists impression of CS11. Picture: TfL - Credit: Archant

Tfl has announced that work is due to begin on the first phase of CS11 - the 2.5mile cycle super highway which will run from Swiss Cottage to Portland Place.

Pro-cycling campaigners have applauded the announcement while opponents, who hoped it had quietly been shelved amid opposition from local councils, are cursing behind the wheels of their 4x4s and vans.

Like it or loathe it, one thing you can say for certain is that CS11 has polarised members of the community against each other – even members of the same family.

As I wrote this, I was debating the merits and evils of CS11 with my husband.

He is a dedicated lycra lout who travels to and from work from NW5 to Euston on his road bike every day. Then at weekends he gets out his racing bike (more expensive than our car) to cycle with his lycra pals to Richmond Park.

As on his daily commute as he dodges pedestrians, car doors being opened in his face and HGVs while hoovering up pollution not only does he want CS11, he wants the whole of London to become acycle superhighway. “Something just has to be done for the sake of our children” he tells me.

Those same children who have cringed at every school concert and assembly when their dad runs in late – dressed in lycra tights?

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I am not a cyclist and do most journeys in my mini, but of course I know he is right.

Something must be done to reduce car journeys in London and most of us support Sadiq Khans ambitions to see 80 per cent of journeys in London to be via public transport, walking or cycling.

Who doesn’t want to live my husband’s dream world where in the morning our whole family jumps on our bikes together along the super highway to heaven?

My husband talks of Amsterdam, where he grew up, where over 60pc of the 0.85million population make journeys by bike along the 400km of bike paths.

But, I tell him, Amsterdam is not London. It is much smaller and largely flat unlike our city where the 8.6m people live on streets where the gradient and pattern changes moment by moment, straightto winding and wide to narrow.

This is where the disagreement starts. We want the same thing but how do we achieve it in London. I worry, like many opponents of CS11, that just plonking down CS11 on the major transport route from the North to London is not the answer and could have the exact opposite affect on the communities in its wake by forcing major traffic into residential streets causing more pollution and danger. Most of the journeys we make every day are in a small radius around our homes, schools, and local shops. Yet most of my friends are too scared to cycle with their children.

I believe it is for all these local journeys and particularly around schools that cars should be restricted and cycle lanes built.

Start at the grass roots level. Make local streets cycle friendly. Before CS11 is enforced on us there needs to be cultural and social change at a local level if efforts to cut down car use and pollution are to really succeed.

School runs need to be made by foot, public transport and bicycle.

I cannot see how imposing CS11 on our area as part of an incomplete and confusing network of central London super highways will achieve this.