row has reignited over a flagship London cycle route in the latest controversy to hit emergency Covid “pop-up” schemes designed to discourage car use.
Residents and traders are asking the High Court to send Hounslow council back to the drawing board on the changes it is making to upmarket Chiswick High Road – claiming that even the Queen had got stuck in the gridlock.
Across London, almost 100 “low traffic neighbourhoods” (LTNs) that discourage through traffic in residential areas have been installed since April, with 89km of new or upgraded cycle lanes and more than 300 “school streets”, which ban non-residential vehicles at the start and end of the school day.
The row in Chiswick comes as the High Court court prepares to hear a judicial review application on Wednesday, November 25 from taxi drivers opposed to a Transport for London “Streetspace” scheme that restricts weekday vehicle access to Bishopsgate and surrounding streets in the City of London.
But the Standard has learned that the spread of schemes to make roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians will continue, with a further £95million due to be spent across the capital in the next six months.
Campaigners from the Walking and Cycling Alliance say there is a “silent majority” across the UK in favour of “people-friendly streets” but too often support is “drowned out by a vocal minority”.
“We want to create more opportunities for those who want to cycle but are scared about using the road. If it doesn’t work, the measures will change and adapt. We will either make them permanent or remove them.”
TfL has committed to spending £75m on “green” transport schemes as part of its second Government bail-out, and have also received £20m from the Government’s active travel fund to reallocate to councils.
Pop-up schemes introduced under experimental traffic orders have to be removed within 18 months unless local backing is shown in a consultation.
Will Norman, the Mayor’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “It’s very clear the ongoing trends we are seeing is a big increase in numbers.
“Over the last five months we have delivered almost 90km of new or upgraded cycle lanes and the network is growing across London, which is a huge credit to TfL and the boroughs.
“What is fantastic is that we are seeing an increase in the number of people who are cycling and using this infrastructure. When people feel safe on our routes, the demand to cycle is there. It’s vital to continue this work to avoid a car-led recovery.”
Sam Monck, TfL’s head of healthy streets investment delivery planning, said: “Increased car traffic as part of the capital’s recovery from coronavirus would be disastrous for congestion, road danger, air pollution and the economy, which is why enabling more people to walk and cycle through our Streetspace programme is so important.
“We absolutely recognise the need for schemes to work for the local communities they serve and we’re working hard to ensure that our temporary schemes introduced in response to coronavirus benefit everybody.
“We will continue to work closely with boroughs, residents and businesses to make sure feedback is taken on-board as we move forward with the next phase of this vital programme.”