Haverstock Hill: ‘Climb is too steep for elderly and kids’

'Call-in' review of cycle lane plan

Thursday, 26th August 2021 — By Harry Taylor

oliver cooper camdencouncillors Image 2020-11-24 at 16.45.51 (3)

Conservative group leader Councillor Oliver Cooper

THE criteria used to recommend a controversial cycle lanes on Camden’s steepest A-road does not take into account the gradient of the route.

The decision to approve the more than one kilometre-long route between Pond Street and Prince of Wales up Haverstock Hill is set to be looked at by the Town Hall’s culture and environment committee tonight (Thursday) after a year-long saga. \

The route has been questioned because of the challenging slope may deter most cyclists.

The Camden Cyclists group will be holding a demonstration outside the Crowndale Centre, Mornington Crescent, before the meeting begins at 6.30pm.

Cllr Oliver Cooper, whose Tory group “called-in” the plans, said: “Haverstock Hill is one of the most daunting climbs in London, and that won’t change with cycle lanes. Camden has said that they are basing their decision on a TfL report that does not consider the steep incline at all.

“Children will not cycle up it, new cyclists will not cycle up it, and elderly people will not cycle up it. Yet Camden’s model has expressly assumed that everyone – whatever their age and whatever their disability – could cycle up and down that hill. This is detached from reality, and it’s why the vast majority of residents opposed the proposal in Camden’s own consultation.”

Haverstock Hill

“The guidelines, in the 2017 report Analysis of Cycling Potential also said disabilities, however severe, should not be a reason to not cycle, and believes people aged over 80 should be expected to cycle up to 3km. It does concede that: “It is likely that some of the trips identified as potentially cyclable could not, in fact, be cycled.”

However the Town Hall has taken the route forward.

A debate has raged over whether the route needed proper consultation after it was approved despite a majority of residents nearby objecting.

Business owners on the route have warned that removing car parking spaces will likely lead to lower numbers of customers, and affect the viability of their businesses.

Owner of restaurant Tish David Levin warned it could lead to the loss of 60 jobs.

Camden say it is crucial to the process of encouraging people to stop driving and switch to cars, and in turn make roads safer. A cyclist was seriously injured in a crash in nearby Adelaide Road a fortnight ago, and was still in hospital days later.

Residents were not initially consulted, owing to a need to move quickly to secure funding according to Camden’s transport chief Cllr Adam Harrison. It now looks likely to go ahead to add to Camden’s web of cycling routes, which aims to increase “active travel”, walking and cycling.

A Camden Council statement said: “During the consultation, older and disabled residents told us that the lack of protected cycle lanes is one of the biggest obstacles when wanting to take up cycling.

“For example, one said the plans will ‘allow disabled people who might have been too fearful to use active transport greater confidence to do so’. The disabled cyclists charity Wheels for Wellbeing also wrote in to support the plans.”

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