Kensington and Chelsea council is coming under pressure to restore a cycle lane that was added, then suddenly removed from Kensington High Street.

Although added as a temporary measure and funded by central government grants, it was removed by the council leas than two months later, citing complaints from local residents and businesses.

A petition calling for the lane’s removal, and cited by the council as justification later turned out to have a large number of respondents from people not affected by the decision.

Since then, there have been concerns about how reliable those complaints were, and whether claims of increased traffic congestion were accurate. Traffic analysis did not seem to show an increase in road congestion as was claimed, and much of the negative effect appears to have been due to roadworks unconnected with the cycle lane.

The council has since been challenged to refund the £300,000 grant it received to build the cycle lane.

A survey commissioned by TfL, but carried out independently by ICM Unlimited, found that over half of respondents (56%) were supportive of the cycle lane, although it also found that 30% were opposed. People opposed to projects tend to be more vocal and likely to complain, so the council’s decision may have been swayed by a vocal minority.

The need for a dedicated cycle lane along Kensington and Chelsea is being pushed as it’s also one of the worst casualty hotspots for cycling in the area.

Analysis of the cycle lane usage when it existed suggests that some 3,000 people a day used it and cycles hires significantly increased when the lanes were in place. Hires at the five closest docking stations were up by 14% in October, compared to a decrease of 0.5% across the wider network.

Since the lane’s removal, monitoring of road traffic via traffic cameras suggests that road traffic actually slowed down, mainly due to motorists parking in the former cycle lane and blocking road traffic.

The council is due to revisit its decision to remove the lanes at a meeting on Wednesday 17th March.

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5 comments
  1. Greg says:

    Getting through the southern part of Kensington and Chelsea on a bike in a quiet way is a problem. I’ve taken a number of rides since lockdown from Hammersmith to Westminster/City of London or towards Greenwich. I use Citymapper, and set the directions to the quiet route. It usually gives quiet streets or bike paths, and you can avoid mostly busy streets. This is true in most boroughs I’ve ridden through. Yet in RBKC, you either wind up along Kensington High Street or the Chelsea Embankment, both of which are a bit hairy in areas. If there was a decent route along quiet streets parallel to these two, I think it would be popular with cyclists, but there isn’t really anything (Cromwell Road is even busier, and King’s Road goes diagonally). I don’t mind braving Kensington High Street on the bike, but it was much nicer when the cycle lane was there.

    • ianVisits says:

      What happens when you follow TfL’s recommended quiet route in that area rather than Citymapper’s one?

  2. Greg says:

    Just tried Hammersmith Broadway to Wellington Arch on the TFL site – the direct route is via Kensington High Street for 6.7 km. The quiet and moderate routes both divert south at Holland Park down almost to Cromwell Road, and then back north once you can enter Hyde Park. These are both 7.6 km, so almost an extra kilometre. Not impossible, but not especially convenient.

  3. tony mansell says:

    Googlemaps now has an ‘avoiding busy roads’ radio button for cycling. I’ve not used it yet and I would add cycling down ‘quiet’ streets that have cars parked both sides isn’t always preferable anyway.
    I used to commute cycle straight up the Bayswater road from Acton to Oxford St and beyond. What we want is quick routes that are safe not necessarily quiet ones that have junctions every few hundred yards. This K& C route was a good straight lane where it was needed but as in Chiswick the few are very noisy. In Chiswick they even suggested the bike route should be on the A4.

    To be honest though, unless theres joined up thinking and a kind of spoked wheel of cycle lanes is funded and delivered, its dusting in corners. We get a few hundred yards of segregated lane then are chucked back on the road as soon as it gets tricky or we are told to dismount !

  4. tony mansell says:

    So are you saying cars weren’t parked on the route that was previously a bike lane? You dont need stats to say if cars are parked along the opened up bike route it doesnt help traffic. That REAL enough for you Kevin?

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