Councillor slams ‘political opportunism’ of petition to scrap Hammersmith cycle lane

A Labour councillor has hit back at a recent petition to scrap a Hammersmith cycle lane that has amassed over 3,000 signatures.

Councillor Wesley Harcourt challenged the petition, organised by Ravenscourt Park Conservative candidates on 11 February, which calls for the destruction of the Safer Cycle Pathway that runs from Goldhawk Road to Olympia.

Hammersmith and Fulham cabinet member for the environment Harcourt said: “We have the farcical situation where the Conservative candidates for Ravenscourt claim they can make the ward cleaner and greener and the air quality better by encouraging as many cars as possible into Hammersmith and digging up the safe cycling pathway.

“This is the most puerile political opportunism. It flies in the face of a policy funded and supported by both their own Conservative government and the Mayor’s transport strategy for London.”

Conservatives Liam Downer-Sanderson, 21, and Hugo FitzGerald, 40, started the petition via as they believe the cycle lane is dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians, alleging it leads to greater collisions, particularly at junctions.

Downer-Sanderson said cycle collisions have doubled since 2020 on King Street, the main road which the lane runs through, suggesting this spike is due to more cyclists on the main road.

PETITIONERS: Liam Downer-Sanderson and Hugo FitzGerald

However, the Labour council contests the data by highlighting that the cycle lane has long existed on King Street, but has just undergone a recent upgrade to improve its safety and accessibility.

They argue there is no data indicating an increase in accidents.

Yet according to the Downer-Sanderson, businesses-owners are also complaining about the cycle lane because of a loss of parking spaces on King Street.

He said: “We spoke to every business that was open along King Street between Studland Street and Goldhawk Road and almost every one signed our petition.

“We got 77 to 78 signatures, so for at least 90% of businesses, someone in the shop signed.

“Obviously, it’s hard to say what you can attribute to the cycle lane, but the consistent anger among all these businesses suggests there must be some truth to these concerns.”

Yet cycling activists believe an important way to reduce traffic in congested areas is to offer commuters alternative ways to travel.

Chairman of Hammersmith and Fulham Cycling, Casey Abaraonye, 54, said: “Behaviourally, we all need to take responsibility. Anyone leaving the house in their car is contributing to traffic.

“Two thirds of people in London do not have access to a car, so it’s important that we have safe spaces for walking and cycling across the city.”

Credit Hammersmith and Fulham Council
CONTROVERSIAL: The disputed cycle lane

Downer-Sanderson and FitzGerald will run as Conservative candidates for Ravenscourt Ward in the local council elections on May 5, and say they plan to present the petition to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in due course.

But Downer-Sanderson said that, regardless of the election’s outcome, he welcomes the Labour candidates to join their campaign and remove the scheme themselves.  

He added: “They should be brave and recognise that it’s clearly causing more harm than good.”

In response, Councillor Harcourt said: “Hugo and Liam offer no solutions for safe cycling or tackling the climate emergency. We, on the other hand, are getting on with the hard graft of reducing emissions and encouraging safe cycle routes that meet the interests of all road-users.

“London is too congested and any new scheme to tackle that congestion takes time to bed in. That’s why we will continue to work with TfL on practical solutions whilst always, as ever, consulting local residents and businesses on the future of the cycle path.”

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