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LCC calls on Secretary of State and Mayor of London to act on Kensington High Street decision

London Cycling Campaign | 18th March 2021

No safe cycle tracks on the most dangerous road in the borough

London Cycling Campaign condemns the decision made today by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) to not reinstate the protected cycle tracks on High Street Kensington, and calls on the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, to take immediate action. The council leadership team chose instead to 'commission research' into post-Covid transport patterns, starting in the summer, an options described by local campaigners Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea as 'kicking the can down the longest road'. LCC Healthy Streets Campaigner Clare Rogers said, “The cycle tracks, even though they were only in for a few weeks, proved a crucial safety measure for thousands of people daily, both on a strategic east-west route for London and for local trips such as families riding to school, on what was, and now is again, the most dangerous road in the borough for cycling. Kensington and Chelsea is clearly incapable of behaving as a responsible local authority for this highway, or following its own policies on road safety and the climate emergency. The Secretary of State for Transport and Mayor of London must address boroughs like this one, that act against or ignore government, regional and their own policies.”

Rogue boroughs must face action

The Mayor and Secretary of State must act for several reasons in LCC’s view:
  • Kensington & Chelsea’s decision has an impact far beyond its own boundaries. The absence of a safe east-west route through the borough leaves a dangerous gap in London’s strategic cycling network. The removal of the tracks risks the lives of school staff, journalists and NHS keyworkers who have all supported it and were using it.
  • The decision goes directly against government policy during the Covid crisis, to reallocate road space and expand protected space for cycling in response to the pandemic. It also goes against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy aims, including the goal of shifting 80% of journeys to foot, bike or public transport. And the decision goes against RBKC’s own policies on climate, road safety and clean air.
  • The decision goes against the wishes of Londoners, including RBKC residents. So far, more than 5,000 people from all over London have emailed the council in support of the cycle tracks via LCC’s website. And an independent survey of RBKC residents conducted on behalf of the Mayor found a majority of residents supported the scheme.
  • The council has failed to listen to the Department for Transport, Transport for London, Imperial College London, the Albert Hall, Waitrose, Peter Jones and more than 70 other institutions, businesses and organisations.
  • Even RBKC’s own evidence in its officers’ report shows that the scheme, even when only partially in, had not caused congestion and had been very well used.
Today’s decision is sadly not a surprise. The officers’ report released last week was in our view heavily biased against the scheme and had serious omissions and errors.

What's next? Legal action forthcoming

The original decision to remove the cycle tracks – taken without a formal meeting or minutes – was considered unlawful on multiple counts by the Environmental Law Foundation, acting for Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea, a group of local volunteers who have been working closely with LCC. This council can now expect to face legal action from a number of organisations including Better Streets.