Haverstock Hill cycle lanes set for approval by Camden Council – again
- Credit: André Langlois
Cycle lanes in Haverstock Hill are set to be approved – despite the majority of residents opposing the scheme.
A report by Camden’s director of environment and sustainability has recommended that the council's transport chief gives the controversial project the green light, ahead of a decision on August 3.
The report shows that 55% of 1,092 respondents, during a consultation earlier this year, objected to the plan for cycle lanes running between Prince of Wales Road and Pond Street.
Of those living in the immediate vicinity of the scheme, 69% disapproved of the plan.
The report states that public opinion is “important” but not “the only consideration”.
It says that the scheme will boost Camden’s wider transport policies, develop cycling infrastructure, and support travel changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
But Cllr Oliver Cooper (Con, Hampstead Town) called the proposal “flawed” in the face of residents’ opposition.
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“To proceed anyway makes a mockery of consulting the public and is an insult to local communities. It will crush Belsize Park,” Camden’s opposition leader said.
Challenging why alternative routes hadn’t been given proper consideration, Cllr Cooper continued: "Camden last year tried to justify ramming through schemes on the basis that cycling would increase by 900%. Instead, where they spent £1 million on cycle lanes on Prince of Wales Road, cycling increased by just 15%.
“Either the presumptions that Camden made are wrong or the lanes – which residents opposed so strongly – made no difference to cycling rates. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
"Haverstock Hill's geography hasn't changed in the last year. It's still too steep to make it attractive for unconfident first-time cyclists to cycle up, with or without cycle lanes.
“By rejecting both alternative routes and Conservative plans to teach cycling proficiency in schools, Labour have shown they don't want to promote cycling – they just want to ideologically get rid of parking spaces to make life harder for people that need to drive."
In January, the council halted its plans for cycle lanes following a legal challenge from Haverstock Hill resident Amit Shah.
Camden then resubmitted its proposals, before holding a consultation between February and March.
Concerns were put to the council, including fears of local businesses that the plans would force them to close due to reduced parking, and access of disabled residents.
However, proponents including Camden Cycling Campaign praised the scheme’s vision for promoting a safer and greener borough.
Cllr Tom Simon (Lib Dem, Belsize) said his party supported improving cycling infrastructure in the borough, but that the council "made a mess of the Haverstock Hill scheme from the outset".
"By refusing to involve the local community, as the Lib Dems urged, we have ended up with a scheme that is being done to the community instead of with it," Cllr Simon said.
"It's no surprise that the majority of local residents oppose it."
Under the proposals subject to a cabinet vote on August 3, four new zebra crossings and one signal crossing would be installed.
Existing traffic islands would be removed, the hours of the bus lane would be extended, and bus bypasses – where the stop lies between the road and the bike lane – would be added.
Countdown timers and “early release” facilities would also be introduced at the junctions of Pond Street and England’s Lane.
The majority of parking on Haverstock Hill and Rosslyn Hill would be removed, with some relocated to side roads.
The planned scheme would begin as a trial under an 18-month experimental traffic order (ETO). After this period the scheme could become permanent, following more consultation.
The report states that the scheme would respond to the environmental and health crisis by providing sustainable travel.
It also cites London-wide and government transport policy objectives, asserting that the project would make cycling and walking easier and safer.
The estimated cost of the cycle lanes is £541,600, financed by the Department for Transport’s active travel fund.
If approved by Camden’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr Adam Harrison, the scheme is expected to begin from late September.
The plans also include a bike hangar outside 8 Glenloch Road, that would replace residents’ parking.