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Work set to begin on CS11 bike route through Swiss Cottage

Opponents say traffic will be diverted into quiet residential roads

11 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot

How the new look road layout will look

A RADICAL overhaul of “one of the capital’s most dangerous and intimidating junctions” will begin in a just a few weeks.

Transport for London (TfL) has announced that 14 months of works to build the “northern end” of Cycle Superhighway 11 – CS11 – in Swiss Cottage, a scheme which led to sharply divided opinions, will begin in July. The works will change the face of the Swiss Cottage gyratory in a bid to make travel safer for people on two wheels.

A stretch of Avenue Road, between College Crescent and Adelaide Road, will be closed off to cars and pedestrianised, while the Finchley Road, opposite the entrance to the Odeon Luxe cinema, will be made two-way to traffic. TfL says it is pressing ahead with the works despite not being able to reach an agreement about closing entrance gates around Regent’s Park further down the route, following a dispute which has already delayed the project by almost a year.

Campaigner Jessica Learmond Criqui, who led the opposition to the changes at the Swiss Cottage end, said CS11 was a “highway to nowhere” and insisted the revised plans would still “force traffic into quiet residential areas”, adding: “This is against the Mayor’s London Plan. It flies in the face of his rhetoric about dealing with pollution in the capital.”

One of the main concerns from resident groups around Hampstead, Belsize Park and West Hampstead is around blocking off exits from Finchley Road. This would lead to more cars and lorries using quiet neighbourhood streets as rat-runs, objectors have consistently claimed. TfL says it has responded to residents’ concerns, following a consultation, by including a right-turn off Finchley Road into Hilgrove Road, and a left-turn into College Crescent.

Several bus routes will be diverted during the course of the works but TfL says it cannot yet say which roads would be closed or give any more detail on road closures or the construction timetable.

More will be revealed in three weeks, a spokesman said. The superhighway – first conceived by Boris Johnson’s administration at City Hall – has sparked large public meetings, a protest march and was a hot topic during this year’s council elections.

Victorious Labour candidates support the installation of the CS11, while the Conservative team, which lost three seats in the Swiss Cottage ward last Thursday, had opposed it. Further south, cyclist groups have called for the gates around Regent’s Park to be closed off to traffic, but they have faced opposition from the Royal Parks Agency, Westminster Council, Westminster Estates Paving Commission and the taxi driver lobby.

A TfL spokesman said yesterday (Wednesday) there had “still not been an agreement” between the authorities and “so we have decided to press ahead with the northern end of the route”. Andrew Gilligan – a “cycling czar” during Mr Johnson’s administration – has suggested that the failure to close the gates renders CS11 “meaningless”.

This week, current mayor Sadiq Khan’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman said: “Our plans will improve the environment around Swiss Cottage and make this busy junction safer for everyone who lives and works in the area.”

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