Ham&High letters: Quietways, CS11 and cycling, pedestrian safety, Kenwood funds and Co-op

Quietway 3 running from Regents Park to Gladstone Park. Could the expansion of Quietways be the answ

Quietway 3 running from Regents Park to Gladstone Park. Could the expansion of Quietways be the answer? Picture: TfL - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

Quietways the answer

Clara Weiss, Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

It is true what Dr Hellman says (“Cycling leads to a healthier society”) - Quietways aren’t the most direct route cyclists can take from A to B.

Obviously London’s main roads would be the shorter and most convenient route for cyclists, but at what cost to everyone else left breathing in the displaced pollution from the displaced traffic, neither of which, contrary to what the mayor, the cycle lobby and Dr Hillman claim, will instantly evaporate with a cycle superhighway?

Jessica Learmond-Criqui is right to promote TfL’s Quietways for cyclists. There already exists a perfectly good Quietway 3 that gives cyclists a route from Dollis Hill via Kilburn, West Hampstead, St John’s Wood to Regents Park. Even Sustrans promotes Quietways.

What is missing, however, is a Quietway from Hampstead to Regents Park – which could easily be routed from Fitzjohn’s Avenue, through Belsize Village to Winchester/Elsworthy Rd and across into Queens Grove/Acacia Road, Chalbert Street and into the park.

It is misleading to compare London with the small cities in Europe where cycling has been maintained as part of the city’s infrastructure. A big difference also is the distances Londoners travel. Instead of the £66m TfL earmarked for a flawed CS11, they should spend it on developing more safe Quietways – and at the very least on improving local bus services instead of drastically cutting them as they are now doing, forcing all those who are unable to cycle to use cars.

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CS11 debacle has wider implications for 100 Avenue Road scheme

Peter Symonds, chairman of the Combined Residents’ Associations of South Hampstead, writes:

Following Sir Ross Cranston’s sensational judicial review ruling that Transport for London’s CS11 decision is unlawful, TfL will now be forced to go back to the drawing board to rethink plans which residents have long recognised would, had they gone ahead, have blighted the Swiss Cottage neighbourhood for years to come.

It will be some time before TfL is able to present a revised and, hopefully, improved scheme. Given that Essential Living’s Construction Management Plan (CMP) for 100 Avenue Road has been designed to work in conjunction with a now defunct CS11 construction programme, it is imperative Camden Council demands that EL properly engages with the local community in a completely new and transparent CMP consultation that finally ensures the protection of the Swiss Cottage Open Space, Eton Avenue, the market, and the health, safety and sanity of the residents of Winchester Road.

It is scandalous that Essential Living (EL), who have only ever played lip-service to the idea of consultation with residents, have all along insisted that working in conjunction with TfL’s CS11 plans required them to route 100 Avenue Road heavy goods vehicles into the Open Space and down Winchester Road.

This is instead of using the A41 for access to a site they, and Camden, would have known from the moment they contemplated acquiring it was fraught with difficulties.

On July 19, because of anomalies in Essential Living’s last CMP, Camden’s Planning Committee deferred making a decision on the application and requested TfL’s views on the viability of allowing EL vehicles to use the A41 for access to the 100 Avenue Road site. Since that deferral we have discovered important facts about the actual number of vehicles accessing the Open Space each day have been obfuscated, underestimated or simply left out of EL’s CMP altogether.

There is considerable concern that Camden remains determined to push through to the next committee meeting what is now a huge departure from EL’s initial plans, in the hope that, this time, enough councillors will vote in line with Camden’s intention to approve it come what may.

The public have been misled too many times during this CMP. In light of the CS11 judicial review decision, EL’s latest plans are now out of date and have no relevance. Our council must immediately insist on EL conducting a completely new, open and honest public consultation. If it does not, it may be necessary for local people to demand another judicial review, this time on EL’s CMP and Camden’s handling of it.

We invite everyone to write as soon as possible to Camden to insist on a new public consultation. Subject heading “100 Avenue Road CMP” to jonathan.mcclue@camden.gov.uk, cc-ed to planningobligations@camden.gov.uk.

Does pedestrian safety not matter?

Nick Harding, St Ann’s Gardens, Camden, writes:

In his View from the Street column, Eugene Regis writes “London needs to build more segregated cycle lanes for sake of our safety – and city”.

But surely not at the expense of the safety of pedestrians?

Hands up those readers including members of the Camden Cycling Campaign (CCC) who are aware that the so-called “Prince of Wales Road Walking, Cycling and Road Safety Improvements” scheme mean shortly there will only be two traffic islands left in Prince of Wales Road between Haverstock Hill and Grafton Road?

The only traffic islands remaining will be two of the existing four at the Malden Road junction. All the rest will be removed to make way for a physically segregated cycle lane along one side of Prince of Wales Road. We will lose the busy zebra crossing by the Talacre Sports Centre, the east and north arms at the Malden Road junction and the three crossings between Malden Road and Haverstock Hill.

Islands (refuges in the jargon) are tremendously important to pedestrians since they make crossing a road safer. Parents will feel more confident in allowing their children to walk to school on their own, so they will not be driven. Old or disadvantaged people will feel and be safer, as will all pedestrians.

The Camden Cycling Campaign website has strongly campaigned for this scheme to be approved and made it easy for its viewers to vote for it by placing a link to the consultation next to every contribution on its discussion thread on the subject. Many will have approved but how many of those who approved the scheme realise that in doing so they will make life so much more dangerous for pedestrians?

Camden’s consultation document with its detailed map of the road makes no mention of any island being removed. Neither does the CCC discussion thread.

If anyone doubts what I am saying, let them contact Camden. Or, they can visit the road, observe its width and realise that if the islands remained and a segregated cycle path were built, even the average car would not be able to squeeze between the footways and the islands!

Capital’s cycling model is flawed

Alan Share, Mill Street, Southwark, writes:

Three cheers. The High Court has put a stop to CS11, the proposed cycle superhighway from Portland Place in central London to Swiss Cottage.

The mayor’s grand strategy is just a grand dream. By 2041 will 80 per cent of all trips in London be made on foot, by cycle or by using public transport, with death and serious injury from all road collisions eliminated? This is the vision of Sustrans, the national cycling charity and cycling lobby, based in Bristol, that London and many other local authorities have been encouraged to use to outsource their road planning.

Within it, there is no anticipation of the next great revolution after iPhones, autonomous electric vehicles. There’s a naïve belief that part of a superhighway is better than none even though it leaves cyclists vulnerable to accidents and toxic fumes where there are gaps. Its modelling so far as I can judge from its flawed work in Newcastle is based more on hope than legitimate expectation.

Underpinning it there is the mistaken belief held by many that cyclists have an equal right to the road. In fact, there is a hierarchy of entitlement. Emergency vehicles are first. Delivery vehicles next. We need them increasingly for buying online! Buses are next for public transport. Taxis and cars next. Last, cyclists. In London they represent only 2 per cent of those who use the roads and they pay no tax. They are not required to carry third party insurance. They often ignore the Highway Code without penalty. Their safety will never be guaranteed by 2041 or by 2141. There will always be the unguarded moment.

The mayor’s grand strategy should be, first and foremost, to provide tens of thousands of fast chargers for electric vehicles to help remove diesel and petrol cars that line our streets because their owners have no garages that can accommodate chargers for them. This will be the fastest way to remove pollution from our streets.

Stop demonising vulnerable cyclists

Steven Edwards, local cycling campaigner, full address supplied, writes:

I would like to highly commend the two most welcome articles by London Cycling Camden member Eugene Regis (“ London needs more segregated cycle lanes”) and Sian Berry, GLC assembly member and new leader of the Green Party (“Sadiq must step up action on road safety”).

Ms Berry, who has drawn upon her formidable experience with Campaign for Better Transport, calls directly for an alleviation of the unacceptable state of transportation in London, with a clear understanding of where the the solutions lies.

The only suggestion I would make is that the issue of “road safety” as a term, be upgraded to that of “road danger reduction”, whereby a clear emphasis of responsibility is placed upon the operator of the more dangerous vehicle.

Mr Regis writes from a first-hand perspective, and reminds us of the fact that London as a city was, for a short time, provided with a system of lanes that offered a coherent and highly effective means of prioritising the transportation of the Olympics sports participants.

But did we experience any traffic armageddon of the kind that persistently and baselessly gets predicted in other letters and columns in the Ham&High and elsewhere? Was there any media-led mob fury against these Olympians as they simply got about their business?

I for one don’t recall hearing anything like the victim-blaming frenzy that still manages to demonise vulnerable road-users today and in so doing contributes to both actual KSIs (killed or seriously injured) and the fear of this.

The Olympic lanes took more road space than the relatively small amount gained for cycling by the last mayor of London. Perhaps six years ago there was far less of the motorised traffic that pervades virtually every available metre?

Either way, these lanes proved that you could successfully give priority to one group over another, without causing further motorised mayhem.

There has been an acknowledgement recently, from the BBC (albeit belatedly) of its appalling mishandling of climate breakdown coverage (still cosily referred to as “climate change”).

The persistent wheeling out of the likes of fossil-fuel-industry-lobbyist and unapologetic “climate change” denier Nigel Lawson to debate against scientists and researchers, all in the name of “balance”, has been a highly contentious issue for many.

With tireless efforts to frustrate and thwart the growing call for safer access to healthy, sustainable, and emissions-free transportation, we see the casual dismissal of people like eminent and respected social scientist Mayer Hillman, by those who show disregard for the current levels of borough-wide rat-running and unacceptable traffic levels.

Regent’s Park to be transformed into a space fit for children to visit the zoo free from fear of being mown down? Unthinkable in the minds of those who appear to have missed the latest evidence showing vehicle pollution is, right now, having a detrimental impact on the ability to learn.

And so, after the debacle of dressing up schoolchildren in pollution masks (to protest AGAINST action for sustainable transport remember!), maintaining the long tradition that began with school-run parents against the CS11 cycle lanes (remember that?); we now have the grand prediction that, with measures to provide a few metres of safe space for children to cross one of the most dangerous roads in the UK (and maybe even a couple of 2.5m-wide protected bike lanes) we will see the potential collapse of the Westway from all the displaced traffic (a prospect that even Lord Lawson might be hard-pushed to dream up)!

Find other ways to generate funds

Anna Farlow, Lyndale Avenue, Hampstead, writes:

Michael Palin has already mentioned that the Heath (including Kenwood) should be free to all, according to the original bequest but, of course, things have changed since the abolition of the GLC, original managers of the Heath, and the appointment of the City of London and English Heritage to this post.

Car parks became Pay and Display – and at £21 a week minimum that meant no more daily trips to the Heath by many elderly locals on limited incomes.

Lord Rodgers tells us English Heritage (EH) is now required to raise considerable funds to make up the lack of public funding. I have approached EH on several occasions and asked why membership does not include (as with National Trust membership) free use of car parks. NT has four million members and EH fewer than one million. It seems not unreasonable to suppose that this benefit might generate income in the form of membership fees. I have never received even an acknowledgement of my approach, let alone a response. Clearly EH prefer the “event” route of fundraising, even at the risk of causing upset to the many daily local users.

We really don’t need the Co-op

Diane Davies, Belsize Park, full address supplied, writes:

I have lived in delightful and quiet Belsize Village for 40 years.

This will all change if the Co-op is allowed to open, selling produce we can already get here. Deliveries will cause blockage of Belsize Lane as everything will have to go in through the front as there is no back entrance. Selling alcohol will encourage young people to purchase cheap liquor. No great thought has gone into this. We will no longer be a village but look like any other high street. We do not need yet another supermarket.