Hampstead meeting called as Boris Cycle Superhighway row gains momentum
PUBLISHED: 13:38 10 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:09 14 March 2016
Hampstead residents have called an urgent meeting in opposition to London Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans for a cycle superhighway which they say will bring “traffic chaos” to their streets.
The meeting, which takes place on Wednesday March 16 at 7pm in St Stephen’s, Pond Street, is an opportunity for residents to quiz Transport for London about their plans to build Cycle Superhighway 11.
Under the proposals, the Swiss cottage gyratory- a major arterial road into central London- will be re-routed and lane capacity cut in half, Avenue Road will be bus and cycle access only and key gates to Regent’s Park will be closed to cars at peak times.
Mr Johnson says the plans will open up safer cycling to thousands travelling from north to central London, but Hampstead residents are warning the route will “directly affect” car access to Swiss Cottage, Regent’s Park and the West End “forever.”
Hampstead solicitor Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who runs the I Love Hampstead NW3 facebook group has urged residents to come and discuss the details of the scheme, which she claims will have “wide ranging” and “worrying consequences” for road users in Hampstead.
She said: “If TfL have their way, Hampstead will become a ghetto. Regent’s Park, one of the jewels of English Heritage and parks will become a velodrome.”
The meeting comes after residents in St John’s Wood have demanded more time for people to have their say on the plans during a highly-charged meeting at St John’s Wood Church hall on Monday.
More than 300 residents from St John’s Wood, Swiss Cottage and the surrounding areas packed out the Westminster council meeting, with many insisting they had “no information whatsoever” from Transport for London about a consultation into the plans.
Responding to demands for the consultation period to be extended beyond the March 20 deadline, TfL bosses told angry residents that leaflets had been delivered despite a majority of those living with 500 metres of the proposed route raising their hand to say they had apparently been missed off the mailing list.
Daniel Howard, of Childs Hill, who set up the ‘Stop Cycle Super Highway 11’ petition which has garnered more than 2,000 signatures said: “I totally understand people’s anger, the changes required by this cycle route will have a huge impact on the lives of thousands of people and I believe they deserve more time to have their say about it.”
During a heated meeting marked by heckling, applause and frayed tempers from those fearing the plans were a “fait accompli”, residents groups claimed that the “completely illogical” scheme would drive traffic onto quiet residential side roads in St.John’s Wood, Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park, turning them into “rat runs”.
Around two dozen cyclists spoke up in favour of Cycle Super Highway 11, with one rider saying: “We are regular users of the inner circle of Regent’s Park to train and also to get to work. In an ideal world we’d have no speed bumps to calm traffic. Swiss cottage is one of the most dangerous roads in North London and something needs to change.”
Dick Shumacher, chairman of the St John’s Wood society echoed concerns raised in a presentation by Clive Beecham of the St John’s Wood High Street Association which highlighted the potential for “traffic gridlock”.
Mr Beecham also branded TfL’s decision not to feature the drilling of an HS2 shaft on Adelaide road or works on the former military barracks in Acacia Road in its traffic modelling “unbelievable.”
Cllr Robert Rigby, Conservative councillor for Regent’s Park ward said: “In all my time as an elected councillor I have never known a local issue that’s galvanized local community like this. These proposals from TfL are a step too far.”
David Lewis, of Wellington Road has written to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, warning TfL of residents’ plans to take the decision to judicial review if the consultation is not extended until the end of the year.
Nigel Hardy, TfL’s head of road space management, said: “We want London to become a more cycle-friendly city for everyone, not just experienced cyclists, and by providing safer cycling routes we can support a growing and changing capital.
“Our consultation is open for another two weeks – until 20 March – and we welcome everyone’s views so we can deliver the best scheme we can.
Responding to residents’ claims they have not been made aware of the plans, he added: “We have carried out an extensive communications campaign including leaflets sent to nearly 50,000 properties along the route, emails to almost 150,000 local residents and advertisements in the local newspapers.”
To find out more about the Cycle Superhighway proposals or add your views to the consultation website see: tfl.gov.uk/cs11.