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Word on the street: Those who blocked CS11 should 'reflect hard' as more risk future injuries or death

PUBLISHED: 12:30 14 February 2019

Simon Munk

A quick look at the terrifying collision map for Swiss Cottage junction shows that, in the last five years, about 60 collisions there have resulted in injuries.

That’s 12 people a year seen by emergency services. And one a year on average for a serious injury, one every five is killed.

That’s far too many. Of those, the bulk are happening to three groups: pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikers. For each, this complex and often high-speed junction is resulting in hospital stays, life-altering injuries, families distraught or torn apart.

Measures to prevent this disturbing toll have been blocked following Westminster Council’s legal win against Cycle Superhighway CS11 after the High Court ruled Transport for London (TfL) could not appeal against a Judicial Review. I think those who are celebrating should reflect hard on the future injuries – or worse – that may occur as a result.

The case, as best as I can tell, hinged on the point that TfL consulted on a long route, then tried to deliver just one bit of it when push came to shove. This allowed Westminster to mount its challenge.

The council and campaigners say they just wanted more data about traffic pushed off main roads, but we’ve heard this all before.

The level of displaced traffic TfL models for is a worst case scenario, and boroughs like Westminster hide behind any and every concern to avoid putting in schemes that benefit those cycling and walking.

What Westminster and its supporters have won, for now, is scrapping changes to a notoriously dangerous and hostile junction, which impacts not just those cycling, but everyone – regardless of how they get around it.

Of course, there’s more to it than just the human toll from collisions. Such a nasty junction represents a barrier so that fewer people walk, cycle or shop here than could, and would, if things were different. That’s the point of the mayor’s Transport Strategy, of TfL taming our worst junctions, adding public space and cycle tracks.

Because the outcome of the “do nothing” alternative, which may satisfy CS11 opponents, is not just collisions, but the congestion, pollution, climate change and inactivity we see daily already – and, in a growing city, set to get even worse.

As a result of those who opposed the scheme, Swiss Cottage won’t get fixed any time soon – and every year of delay will mean more cost in terms of collisions, ill health and lost business.

Those against CS11 rowed in on a tide of resident fear of more traffic. A fear that’s absolutely understandable.

But if we are to reduce motor traffic we have to build more schemes, not fewer – we have to mitigate the impact of schemes, closing off rat runs, or stopping motor traffic near schools, rather than just fight for a status quo where pollution kills near 10,000 Londoners early a year, inactivity far more (while crippling the NHS), where we have less than 12 years to take drastic action on climate change and where people continue to be seriously injured every year so some folks can save a few minutes on their drive to the West End.

I’ll celebrate when we all work together to keep motor traffic from turning residents’ roads into rat runs, leaving them safer places to walk and cycle, and we support schemes like Cycle Superhighway CS11, cutting rat run traffic in Regent’s Park and taming horrific, dangerous junctions like Swiss Cottage.

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