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Why criticise efforts to make roads safer and more attractive?

04 February, 2021

Camden Council halts plans for new cycles lanes in Haverstock Hill

• IS there any chance you could bring a bit more balance to your reporting on the growth of cycling as a mode of transport in London?

There is abundant evidence that London residents are turning to cycling in growing numbers as the Covid-19 pandemic has made public transport a less attractive option.

Yet week by week we see reports dominated by criticism of Camden Council’s efforts to make the roads safer and more attractive for cycling and walking.

Last week’s instance was the report (Man behind legal challenge ‘delighted’ as Haverstock Hill cycle lanes are cancelled, January 28), which gleefully leaps to a wrong conclusion that Camden has decided to cancel the project when all it has done is to cancel the “experimental traffic order” to allow time for a consultation.

It proceeds to report the very hostile views of several opponents of the scheme, based on the false interpretation, leaving until the final paragraph the council’s statement that it is “looking at the plans again” with a view to consulting on them in line with new guidelines issued by the government since the original plans were announced.

More than 60 per cent of Camden households enjoy the privilege of living without the burden of owning a car.

A great many of them and others are interested in travelling around Camden and more widely in London by bicycle. But many are prevented from doing so for lack of access to safe and convenient routes for their every-day journeys.

Transport for London and highway authorities in other major cities around the world have concluded that travel by bicycle becomes attractive when there is a network of safe and direct cycle routes reachable within 200 to 300 metres from most points in the city.

Camden’s transport strategy, approved by a large majority at a full council meeting in April 2019, includes a cycling action plan and a proposed borough-wide cycling network.

The network is carefully planned to leave the space for traffic movement on essential motor routes largely unaffected and it has been updated to take account of changes to travel preferences following Covid-19.

The Haverstock Hill lanes are an important part of that network and their construction has become more urgent since the option of public transport is no longer acceptable to many.



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