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.