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TfL's foolhardy plan to double up on Highgate West Hill

PUBLISHED: 13:32 25 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:59 07 September 2010

HIGHGATE WEST HILL is so steep that it has been deemed the ultimate test for the world s fastest and strongest cyclists, who will struggle to climb it in pursuit of Olympic gold and glory in 2012. That being the case, what on earth is TfL thinking about

HIGHGATE WEST HILL is so steep that it has been deemed the ultimate test for the world's fastest and strongest cyclists, who will struggle to climb it in pursuit of Olympic gold and glory in 2012.

That being the case, what on earth is TfL thinking about with its plan to send double-decker buses up and down its steep gradient, in place of the more easily manageable single-decker 214s that already struggle towards its lofty summit.

Residents along the length of the hill are well accustomed to the sight of heavy traffic labouring up the incline, engines straining to overcome the gradient - or worse still, careering downhill towards the Swains Lane roundabout at unintelligent speeds.

When a light snow fell a few years ago, Highgate West Hill was one of the most impassible roads in London, with four-hour queues forming at its base and only the most intrepid, or foolhardy, willing to risk progress in either direction.

That kind of disruption doesn't happen often but when it does, the inordinate degree of chaos which ensues provides an indicator of why this particular stretch of scenic but highly challenging terrain is not suitable for every kind of vehicle.

There is nothing that can be done about sending heavy traffic along this road. It is one of the major routes into and out of Highgate Village, but for TfL to consider adding to the problems with the introduction of dozens of double-decker journeys on a daily basis is just plain daft.

There are other parts of the 214 route that are equally inhospitable and TfL would do everyone, including its drivers and passengers, a considerable favour by abandoning this foolish scheme . Transport bosses admit that the plans have been drawn up in response to ''night time capacity issues''. That problem, if it really exists, could be much more sensibly solved by the simple introduction of just a few more night buses - of the single decker variety, please.

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