Work to begin on Haverstock Hill cycle lanes

Project part of 'effort to cut the carbon out of transport, and slash air pollution'

Friday, 21st January — By Harry Taylor

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Haverstock Hill

WORK on controversial cycle lanes up Haverstock Hill will begin at the end of January ahead of an 18-month trial.

The route, which will run for the 1.25km stretch between the junctions with Pond Street in Hampstead and Prince of Wales Road in Chalk Farm, was the centre of a long-running row which saw Camden Council taken to court by one man living on the stretch, concerned about his health.

It was given the final go-ahead in August 2021, more than a year after it was first mooted.
Work will start on January 31, four days after an experimental traffic order is introduced.

It means that a full public consultation will take place after a year, and people can feed back during it to suggest improvements or call for it to be scrapped.

The plans have proven divisive. Objections include a host of business owners who say it could cost them their livelihoods, as customers park in the current paid-parking on the hill. A majority of respondents rejected the plans during a consultation in February and March 2020.

The steepness of the hill was once referred to in HG Wells’ science-fiction novel, War of the Worlds.

However cycling campaigners say that roads are not safe for riders, and there needs to be a decisive shift away from car-usage to help combat air pollution problems in London and the climate crisis. It was backed by the Royal Free Hospital in a letter in early 2021.

John Chamberlain of Camden Cyclists said: “We are pleased to hear that work is about to start on the trial cycle lanes and associated street improvements.
“It will enable the thousands of people who live in Belsize Park and beyond plus visitors to the area, including school children and workers at the Royal Free, to safely cycle up and down the hill at their own pace rather than being hassled by vehicles, or trapped against parked cars.”

The Conservative opposition in Camden was one of those who suggested an alternative route and criticised the council for initially not planning to consult residents before it was installed.

Tory leader Councillor Oliver Cooper said: “Camden has completely ignored local residents, who opposed this proposal in Camden’s own consultation by over two to one.

“Councillor Steve Adams and I fought for residents to be listened to – from securing their right to be consulted by backing legal action to proposing an alternative, parallel cycle lane through Maitland Park. But Camden didn’t want to know.

“In the council, Labour voted to do the opposite of what residents wanted, while Belsize’s own do-nothing Lib Dem councillor betrayed Belsize residents by abstaining. Camden needs to listen and work with residents, rather than against them or ignore them.”

Camden’s environment chief Adam Harrison said: “The five new pedestrian crossings and cycle lanes soon to be trialled on Haverstock Hill and Rosslyn Hill are absolutely vital for helping people travel more safely around Camden.

“As well as contributing to our vision of zero casualties on our roads, they are part of our collective effort to cut the carbon out of transport, and slash air pollution.”

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