Resident fears health at risk by Haverstock Hill cycle lanes amid legal challenge
- Credit: Amit Shah
A resident who is taking a legal challenge to Camden Council over cycle lanes in Haverstock Hill says there is a “great sense of injustice” over the scheme.
Amit Shah, 38, claims the bike lanes could threaten his and others’ health by slowing down access to the Royal Free Hospital - which supports the scheme - through increased traffic and tailback caused by vehicles unable to overtake stationary buses.
The Haverstock Hill resident, who has lived in the area for 20 years, suffers from anaphylaxis, which brings on severe allergic reactions that require him to be rushed to hospital.
He is chair of Steele’s Village Residents' Association and has challenged the town hall over its alleged lack of consultation for the scheme, and is waiting to hear whether a judicial review will be granted by the High Court.
He has launched a fundraiser aiming to bring in £25,000 to cover legal costs.
Camden Council says the bike lanes, approved in November, will encourage more cycling, improve health and make the borough more “family-friendly”.
Amit told the Ham&High: “I’m not a motorist, I don’t own a car and I’m not opposed to cycle lanes.
“I think if people were to cycle more that’s a good thing and that’s the way we’re heading for anyway, but there has to be a way of doing these things and Camden has failed to consult residents.
“The businesses were asked about loading needs but not asked about the impact this would have on them.”
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In addition to health concerns, the 38-year-old, who is currently working two jobs including night shifts for a supermarket, expressed fears over the scheme’s impact to local traders, who have opposed the scheme.
“There’s a great sense of injustice from the local community and people living here where this is just imposed on you without even talking about it,” he said.
“I’m not saying for one minute that we shouldn’t have more cycling, what I’m saying is let's do this in a way that benefits the community.”
The bike lanes will run along both sides Haverstock Hill between Prince of Wales Road and Pond Street.
The council's opposition leader Cllr Oliver Cooper (Conservative) said: "Thank you to the hundreds of residents that have donated to back Amit's claim.
"Local democracy can't be limited to the people sat around Camden's Cabinet table in Kings Cross.
"Camden has continually ignored people from Hampstead to Highgate to Camden Town, and it's in the interests of everyone in Camden and further afield to stop their right to be consulted being chucked out."
Belsize councillor Tom Simon (Lib Dem) said: "We are keen on improving cycling infrastructure but have repeatedly warned the council that with a project of this scale it is essential to try hard to bring the community on board.
"The failure of the council to properly consult and listen to residents and businesses has undermined this project and left it open to challenges such as this one.
"It will be hugely embarrassing for Camden if the court case succeeds and it could be a major setback for improving cycling infrastructure across the borough."
The scheme is expected to cost £541,600 and it will be funded by TfL.