Anger as TfL moves to rip out Euston Road cycle lane

Safe lane holds up buses and clashes with HS2, according to transport authority

Tuesday, 19th July — By Richard Osley

Euston Road cycle lane cyclist

Two parts of the Euston Road cycle lane have already been removed – now the final bit will be stripped out [Simon Lamrock]

TRANSPORT for London (TfL) is facing the fury of councillors and cyclists after ordering the removal of the last part of the Euston Road bike lane – with warnings that the decision could lead to fatalities.

The Town Hall was told on Monday that there is nothing it can do but complain – as the decision has already been taken by the city’s transport authority, which answers to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan rather than Camden Council.

So while a string of councillors this week raised concerns about the track’s removal – including many from the same political party as Mr Khan – contractors are due to take it out within weeks.

TfL has cited apparent low use of the route, delays to bus services at around six minutes and congestion clashes with HS2 lorries.

Its officers faced questions – and sharp criticism – at Camden’s environment scrutiny committee, not least from chairman Labour councillor Awale Olad, who said: “The committee has spent the best part of the last decade arguing for a radical transformation of the King’s Cross gyratory and the Euston Road and we welcomed the installation of cycle lanes.

“These are meant to help with improving the ridiculously high numbers of cyclists who were killed or seriously injured on Euston Road and across our borough, as well as aligning with our ambitions of reducing cars on our roads, alleviating the pressure on public transport and encouraging more people to walk and cycle.”

He added: “Tfl’s proposals are counterproductive. I’m also sorry to say that the reasons set out for removing the cycle lanes are unfathomable.”

TfL has said that cyclists can still use the Tavistock Place bike route south of Euston Road as a safe link, but this response has failed to impress those on two wheels.

Jakub Mamczak, from the London Cycling Campaign, said: “People already cycle on Euston Road. It’s an obvious desired line that goes to key locations like workplaces and stations – removing the track there won’t stop people cycling there, it just puts them in danger.”

He warned that the scheme, first installed at the start of the Covid crisis, had never been properly completed and given people an end-to-end route, and now the scheme’s popularity was being unfairly judged under these circumstances.

“The greatest issue is that there are too many cars in central London and if we don’t do something massively to bring those numbers down on Euston Road and London in general, we won’t be in a good position to reach the Mayor’s sustainable transportation targets and take necessary action to address the climate emergency,” said Mr Mamczak.

Cllr Olad told TfL’s officers: “I’ve got from you that you seem to be quite disappointed with the fact that there’s only 1,500 cyclists utilising this road on a daily basis. I mean, that’s 1,500 cyclists, that’s 1500 people, that’s 1500 souls who are going to be at great risk once the scheme is removed, or may just stop cycling altogether or start driving, or put extra pressure on public transport.”

He added: “Why can’t we have another scheme – better scheme to replace this one? Rather than saying: ‘Well, you know, cyclists can just bugger off up to Tavistock place, if they if they need to cycle through through this route’.”

Helen Cansick, from TfL, said: “Euston Road is essentially a strategic traffic route. It supports the lifeblood of London, and it carries a lot of people on buses. But at no point are we suggesting that it works well, particularly for people cycling.

“But the cycle lane that we are removing was implemented in very, very quick time during the pandemic as a trial. As with many of our schemes and the borough schemes, we wanted to give people facilities to avoid public transport to socially distance when they wanted to during the height of the pandemic.

“And the Euston Road was one of the schemes that went in – and that meant that it didn’t have the full effort that we would normally apply in terms of design and assessment.”

She added: “Bear in mind, some of our schemes go through that process for some years before they’re implemented. This was implemented in a matter of months, and we took a commitment to measure all of our schemes and take a data led approach to our decision making.

“We have taken a difficult decision to remove the scheme because we recognise that Euston Road needs a lot more thinking, a lot more expertise and assessment and design work in order to meet the aspirations that we have for that route and that the borough of Camden has for that route.”

Ms Cansick told the committee that when HS2 works finished, TfL did not intend the road to go back to the way it was – and with the same volume of road traffic.

But she added: “In the meantime, we have to accommodate the complex construction of a national piece of infrastructure, which is requiring road space to facilitate construction for utility works and for works associated with Euston station, and also the increased volume of construction traffic.”

Labour councillor Nina de Ayala Parker said: “HS2 is going to take a very long time to complete. I think it’s predicted to be 2045 – so in terms of that 20 year period that we have, until the completion of HS2, should TfL not be prioritising cycle lanes bus routes. I really think we need to think more creatively and act faster.

“HS2 hasn’t been the most successful thing that has happened in terms of construction and engineering in this country. I think the Euro tunnel was built in… was it 15 years or less? Anyway, it’s taking a long time and I really think we really, really need to prioritise cycle lanes and bus routes.”

 

 

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