The Green Party’s London Mayor candidate Sian Berry met with cycling campaigners in Kensington on Saturday to protest the removal of a controversial cycle lane from the area.
Green Party mayoral candidate Berry and West London Central London Assembly candidate Zack Polanski met with BetterStreets4KC, a group of local volunteers who fought against Kensington & Chelsea’s (RBKC) removal of a cycle lane on High Street Kensington.
RBKC’s Conservative council removed the £320,000 temporary cycle lane in December without consultation just seven weeks after its instalment, citing increased congestion and complaints from locals and businesses.
Polanski, a cyclist himself, commented: “When they put in that Kensington cycle lane it was a beautiful example of what London roads could be like, with families with young children all out cycling together.
“Sustainable transport, cycling, it’s the way forward in terms of health, air quality and also for the climate emergency.
“So essentially we need to make sure that we’re bringing the cycle lane back and we’re also bringing the complaints into the mayor’s hands.”
Berry added: “We want to turn this noisy polluted street into a healthy street.
“The world is changing and we need to adapt.”
University of Westminster’s professor of transport Rachel Aldred told Highways that it takes at least six months to find out if new cycle interventions have a positive or negative impact, with a study by Bike is Best finding congestion had increased on High Street Kensington since the removal of the cycle lane.
BetterStreets4KC Spokesperson Justin Abbott said: “There are so many people who want this cycle route across the borough, because there needs to be a safe route across.”
To show their support for the cycle lanes, children ‘adopted’ cycle bollards along the street last year, delaying the removal on 4 December to later that month.
Imperial College London is one of the local supporters of BetterStreets4KC’s campaign, with many of their 17,000 students and 8,000 staff using the route to go back and forth between their campuses in White City and Exhibition Road.
West Central London Green Party campaigns and events officer Fabien Frenzel said: “The point is getting people out of cars. There will be less traffic if more people use sustainable transport, and feel safe to do so.
“London will reap the benefits as the city will be less congested and less polluted.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan demanded the cycle route’s reintroduction after a poll of 1,000 residents found 56% in favour of the lanes with only 30% opposition, however after a leadership meeting on 17 March the council refused.
Conservative West London Central London Assembly candidate Tony Devenish, who was central to the council’s decision, said: “The royal borough was forced, pushed and bullied by TfL and Khan to put the cycle route in.
“When you’re putting cyclists into London on main roads which have been around since the horse and cart in Victorian times, you’re just reducing the amount of space for all other forms of traffic. You’re also not making it easy for cyclists.
“What we are trying to do is put in quiet ways which are smaller cycle lanes.”
RBKC Council Leader Elizabeth Campbell said: “The Kensington High Street scheme was a temporary solution to an urgent problem, but permanent changes to our roads need full and proper consultation.
“This has been a divisive issue and passionate arguments were made on both sides. I would urge people to come together and work with us to find an alternative for our whole community.”
Details of the 17 March leadership meeting held by RBKC on this topic can be read here.
Main Image Credit to Alasdair Melrose