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Warning that elderly will face steep hill if bike lane takes parking bays

Council draws up draft plans for Haverstock Hill

17 September, 2020 — By Richard Osley

The changes will begin at Prince of Wales Road and move north up the hill

A PLANNED “pop-up” bike lane running up and down Haverstock Hill has provided the latest flashpoint in Camden’s list of new traffic experiments.

The new segregated spaces for cyclists, which would start at Prince of Wales Road and run up to Pond Street, will mean several parking bays will be removed.

It is part of the council and Transport for London’s reordering of the borough’s roadmap to make walking and cycling easier. A series of rows have already bubbled up over changes to Euston Road, Camden Road, Camden Town, and Swain’s Lane in Highgate.

Unlike normal times, the experimental traffic orders (ETOs) are put in first, with the consultation held while they are in place before a review on whether they should be made permanent months down the line.

The council says it is following government guidance to respond to the virus challenge and wants to avoid road traffic increasing as people reduce their use of public transport. In Haverstock Hill, however, the Tory group in Camden say there is no need to wait to see if the scheme works because the idea, they say, is widely opposed already.

And they are questioning why full details of the scheme had not been given to those likely to be most affected.

Leader of the opposition Councillor Oliver Cooper [all council chamber photos taken before Covid pandemic]

Group leader Councillor Oliver Cooper said: “”It is unlawful to not consult properly and it will cost Camden money too.  The Government made it clear months ago that consultation is required, and the Transport Secretary wrote two weeks ago that councils won’t receive grants for works that haven’t been consulted on.  All Camden has to do to qualify for government funding is to ask residents and businesses what the impact would be and to listen to their answers.

He aadded: “Camden Conservatives asked hundreds of residents in the last week – as we have at Swain’s Lane, King Henry’s Road, and Regent’s Park Road in recent months – and we’re not the ones voters gave control of the council to.  The fact that Camden refuse to, despite that financial incentive, shows how allergic Labour are to listening to residents.
“Ignoring the disabled and elderly residents that say they couldn’t get to the shops if they had to walk up the steep hill, and sidelining the businesses that have said they’ll go bankrupt if it went ahead, is cruel and callous.  Camden must listen to the overwhelming majority of residents and scrap this scheme now.”
Lib Dem leader Councillor Luisa Porritt

Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Luisa Porritt said: “While in principle the Liberal Democrats are in favour of increasing cycle routes within Belsize and across Camden, we do have concerns about the lack of formal consultation with residents and potential unintended consequences of such a significant scheme. There are a number of blocks on Haverstock Hill and not all of them have their own private parking; the loss of that parking space could disproportionately impact elderly residents who would have further to walk to get to their cars.”

She added: “We have heard from businesses in Steele’s Village that loss of parking could harm their businesses further when the economy is already in recession. As local councillors we were given such a short timeframe to ask residents what they think and were informed about these plans at a late stage, therefore we urge the Council to take more time to formally consult residents.”

Cllr Porritt has previously suggested schemes were being rushed through to meet government funding deadlines.

“We are often told it’s the pandemic and need to maintain social distancing, but actually it’s being used as a reason to rush through often well intended but sometimes problematic schemes because the Council has such a small window of opportunity to take advantage of the pot of money available,” she said.

Labour’s environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison said: “Public transport capacity will be down for some time, so we urgently need to provide new ways for people to travel safely. The government and mayor of London are clear we must take steps to discourage the rise in car use we can already see before our eyes. Making covid-related transport changes on an experimental basis allows us to listen to residents’ feedback and tweak things as we go.”

Labour’s environment supremo Councillor Adam Harrison

 “It is essential to create new space on the borough’s roads, and new places to cross busy streets, in order to meet the needs of the two-thirds of Camdeners who do not have a car. We do not want people to feel they have to acquire a car to get about during covid, not least given the high financial burden this can place on households that may be struggling.

 And he added: “Since the schools have gone back, I am also being contacted by parents asking for much safer travel for their children. With numerous schools on or close to Haverstock Hill, segregated cycle lanes could create new opportunities for kids to ride a bike to school, improving their health and making Camden a more family-friendly borough.

 “The draft plans for Haverstock Hill also include new zebra crossings and a push-button crossing, helping pedestrians exercise the priority over motor traffic to which they are entitled. We shouldn’t any longer tolerate a state of affairs where it is only the brave – often older men – who use a bike to make local journeys because they are the only ones self-assured enough to vie with cars, vans, and lorries in the same road space.”

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