What’s next for Cycle Superhighway CS11? TfL lays out their plans

Road conditions inside Regent's Park

On Tuesday, TfL released a new statement on Cycle Superhighway CS11, the legal action against it by Westminster Council and the next steps it and City Hall propose.

The statement may be understated, but it barely conceals the fury clearly felt by Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman and others – laid bare in follow-up tweets.

Will Norman calls Westminster’s action “shameful” in blocking a scheme that would have seen “lethal Swiss Cottage junction becoming safe for people cycling and on foot”. Norman pledges to “re-look” at the junction as soon as possible with Camden Council – a new scheme not linked to any Westminster roads would be unlikely to be subject to legal action by Westminster Council.

TfL’s statement is more measured, suggesting the body is “disappointed” over the judges’ decision on CS11 legal action, and continuing: “The Court’s decision did not determine that CS11 was a badly designed scheme, nor that it had an unacceptable impact on traffic, air quality or the environment, or that TfL had not engaged correctly with the public and stakeholders.”

Indeed, it is clear that the transport authority and City Hall view, (as we do), that Westminster’s stated reasons for continuing to seek delays to the scheme are unreasonable. The statement lists out the many measures TfL followed to progress the scheme, including: 

  • Listening to concerns about traffic changes and working to further minimise any traffic displacement, including revising the design at Swiss Cottage.
  • Undertaking detailed environmental assessments for the scheme, which concluded no overall significant impact was predicted on air quality or noise as a result of the CS11 proposals

The TfL statement even lays out how Westminster’s shock decision to scrap the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street had effected the scheme, stating: “We had also committed to complete traffic assessments for the southern section of the CS11 route and to work closely with Westminster City Council in doing so. The timing for these traffic assessments had been planned to coincide with similar traffic analysis for the Oxford Street Pedestrianisation scheme, which Westminster City Council has since decided not to move ahead with in the form previously agreed with TfL and the Mayor.”

Both Norman and TfL address not just the issue of Swiss Cottage, but also Regent’s Park’s Outer Circle – where four gates were only due to be open from 11am-3pm daily. It is now clear that it is the Crown Estates Paving Commission, a statutory body that controls the gates of the park on behalf of nearby residents, is actively blocking this scheme. 

Norman tweeted: “I’ll continue to pursue urgent safety improvements for Regent’s Park. The Outer Circle has nearly 3x more collisions than comparable roads. Half motorists break 30mph speed limit. We caught one doing 78 mph at 5pm. Our CS11 scheme would've reduced speeds & rat-running in the park… It’s unacceptable that the Crown Estates Paving Commissioners refuse to address safety concerns and extend the hours which they keep some of their park gates closed.”

The TfL statement reads: “The CEPC, who take responsibility for repair and maintenance of the streets, pavements and gardens of the Crown Estate around Regent’s Park, and for the current night-time closure of Regent’s Park gates, have recently indicated that they are not willing to progress the planned safety improvements in the Park, despite two alternative workable options being developed.”

The CEPC seem now to be the sole barrier to a safer and more enjoyable Regent’s Park, despite having publicly committed to the scheme in the past. Previous director Max Jack told The Guardian newspaper after pressure from LCC the four gate closure scheme would be a “really significant benefit” and suggested it was Westminster Council at fault: “they aren’t very keen on gate closures.” But it seems that position has shifted.

So what next? We believe TfL and City Hall are right to urgently move forward with their plans for Regent’s Park and Swiss Cottage as individual schemes. It is clear, for now, that Westminster City Council remain committed to blocking cycling improvements wherever they involve meaningful reductions in motor traffic capacity. Of course, LCC will continue to engage with borough Councillors and officers to try and shift their thinking. But we will also work with TfL, City Hall, Camden, and the Royal Parks and other key stakeholders to bring forward the urgently needed Regent’s Park and Swiss Cottage improvements.