OPINION: Chair of the Hampstead and Belsize Town Team Jessica Learmond-Criqui writes about ‘rat-running’ CS11 cycle route
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Where are we now on CS11?
TfL held their last stakeholder meeting last week and have said that they will make their recommendation in November/December, 2016. That process has been disappointing. TfL offered little in the way of mitigation of the rat running impacts of the scheme, failed to deliver further modelling and other information which it promised and it’s obduracy reigned supreme to escape scrutiny by MPs Karen Buck and Tulip Siddiq.
TfL is not listening to residents’ concerns. They see the issue of “Traffic Reassignment” as a mere annoying side-show to the much vaulted plans of Mayor Khan and proponents of modal shift and they are willing to sacrifice local residents’ and school children’s air quality and safety in favour of cycling provision which goes far beyond what is needed to make cyclists safe.
What I do find bizarre in this sad tale is that while TfL know that HS2 will reduce the traffic flow on this north south corridor to a trickle for at least 16 years, it insists on making matters so much worse by reducing road capacity at the Swiss Cottage gyratory with the CS11 scheme.
With HS2 seeing an average of 20 HGVs per day planned to start from now and crescendo-ing to 500 a day in 2021, surely it makes sense to leave road capacity as it is to handle just HS2 traffic alone.
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And that’s ignoring other developments in the area bringing in hundreds of extra HGVs a day.
Why tinker with the road network at such a crucial time?
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It is well known that TfL are not happy with HS2 and in a letter on 6 November, 2015, TfL accused HS2 Ltd of failing to factor in CS11, causing congestion for residents and poor air quality in the area – rather as residents now make representations to TfL re CS11.
Will Hampstead and the pleas of its residents ultimately be ignored and abandoned by Camden Council?
Around the country from Nottingham to Chigwell, residents feel abandoned by their councils as road capacity is narrowed increasing congestion and pollution.
Camden Council is in poll position to demonstrate that it can and will champion residents’ concerns – the question is, will it?
While TfL’s vision of the area derives from office-based map study with no understanding of the gradients, the narrow streets, the fragility and the history, Camden has no such excuse.
The only voices currently being heard at a political level are overwhelmingly not those of businesses, residents, the disabled or the elderly who will suffer as a result of CS11. That is a tragedy.
Hampstead has a proud tradition of liberalism and diversity, of community engagement and open debate.
This is not being reciprocated by modern day Camden Council, TfL or Mayor Khan.
If CS11 is pushed ahead, locals are urged to remember these events when next they go the ballot box. There is but one chance in five years to make one’s voice heard. If one is silenced for the rest of the time, let’s make that one moment count...
Pick up a copy of the next Ham&High on Thursday October 27 to read an opinion from the other side of the debate.