Plans for contraflow cycle lanes branded dangerous

Plans for cyclists to ride into oncoming traffic in West Hampstead have been branded dangerous and unnecessary by councillors and a local transport group.

Camden Council is consulting on plans to paint cycle lanes on roads linking Finchley Road to West End Lane and on to Kilburn High Road. The proposals would see cyclists travelling down one-way roads in the opposite direction to motorists.

Virginia Berridge, chairwoman of the West Hampstead Transport and Amenity Group, said few motorists paid attention to cycle lanes in West End Lane when they were installed a few years ago and this scheme could suffer the same fate.

She added: “It sounds ghastly. It sounds crazy for pedestrians trying to cross the road with cars going one way and cyclists going the other.”

Swiss Cottage councillors have also criticised the plans for failing to ask residents whether there is even a demand for the additional cycling provision and consulting on where the lanes should be placed.

Cllr Don Williams said: “Rather than saying to residents and people who cycle in the area do you want more cycling paths in the area and do you need them, the consultation is merely trying to manage the disruption it will cause people. We have had so many road closures in that area that I think people are very frustrated.

“There is also an element of danger to cyclists in the plan because the streets are not that wide and are already quite busy.”

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The scheme to open up nine one-way roads in the West Hampstead and Swiss Cottage will be funded by Transport for London. Opposition councillors suggest the council would rather use the pot of money, regardless of the scheme’s merit, than lose it.

The council consultation document says: “As part of a wider scheme to help improve safety and accessibility in West Hampstead area we are seeking to open up several of these one-way roads to contraflow cycling.

“The objective of this scheme is to improve general safety as well as cycle accessibility.”

The proposed works are scheduled to start this month and finish in March 2012.