Is this the end of the road for hated Covid cycle lanes?

Is this the end of the road for hated Covid cycle lanes? One council starts removing them as London MPs call for the road restrictions to be ripped up in the capital

  • Government gave money for pop-up cycle ways in May to encourage bike use
  • West Sussex officials decided earlier this month to remove lanes from five towns
  • Pictures show workers removing the cycle lanes today on Worthing High Street
  • Two MPs called for removal of bike lane on Kensington High Street yesterday

One council has started removing controversial Covid-19 lockdown cycle lanes while London MPs call for the road restrictions to be ripped up in the capital city. 

The Government provided money for pop-up cycle ways in May in an effort to reduce demand on public transport and encourage more people to shift to bikes.

Officials in West Sussex decided earlier this month to remove the cycle ways that were criticised for causing traffic jams from Crawley, East Grinstead, Horsham, Shoreham and Worthing. 

Pictures show the lanes being removed today on Worthing High Street in Worthing, West Sussex. It comes as figures show the number of cyclists in the town plummeted after the initiative was introduced in September. 

Meanwhile two Tory MPs, Tony Devenish and Felicity Buchan, voiced their support for removing the lane on Kensington High Street, saying the scheme ‘hasn’t worked’. 

A worker can be seen removing pop-up cycle ways on Worthing High Street in Worthing, West Sussex, today after the controversial lanes caused traffic jams 

Pop-up cycle lanes removed on Worthing High Street. It comes as figures show the number of cyclists in the town plummeted after the initiative was introduced in September

In a clip posted to Twitter yesterday, Ms Buchan said: ‘We’re on the verge of Kensington High Street and we’ve come to see the traffic this morning. 

‘I very much wanted the cycle lane on Kensington High Street to work but unfortunately it just hasn’t.

‘It hasn’t worked for pedestrians, it hasn’t worked for the elderly, it hasn’t worked for the disabled. So very reluctantly, I am asking the council to take out the cycle lane on Kensington High Street.’

Mr Devenish added: ‘I’d like to thank our residents and residents’ associations for working with RBKC to actually look at this scheme.

‘It was a good idea but I’m afraid it hasn’t worked. And now we need to take it out as soon as possible.’

TV presenter Jeremy Vine was nearly hit by a driver while riding his bike along Kensington High Street, posting a video last night showing a motorist cutting across traffic.

He wrote: ‘Absolute madness this morning on a stretch of High Street Kensington where there’s not yet a dedicated lane for cyclists. 

‘This is the most frightening scenario on a bicycle, when the danger comes out of nowhere.’

Meanwhile, in Worthing, there were 7,444 cycle trips in the week commencing September 14 , compared to 6,131 the next week, further dropping to 5,839 the following week, according to data from West Sussex County Council, reported the Worthing Herald.

Bike journeys also decreased by 44 per cent in Chapel Road and 14.9 per cent in Broadwater Road throughout September. 

In the week commencing September 14 there were 7,444 cycle trips in the town, compared to 6,131 the next week, further dropping to 5,839 the following week

The report noted: ‘Based on WSCC Officer observations from the drive-through data, average journey times and speeds through the scheme during busy times still appears to be within a range that might be expected.’ 

According to the local council, with increased traffic levels and more people using public transport there is no longer any need for the cycle lanes.

Roger Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, previously said: ‘The schemes fulfilled their main objectives of offering people dedicated space to cycle rather than using public transport, or to leave the car at home and use their bike instead.

‘This was in response to the unique set of circumstances during the first national lockdown, including schools and colleges having been closed for months and vastly-reduced public transport capacity. 

‘The extraordinary environment that led to their installation no longer exists even though we are about to enter into a new national lockdown: schools and colleges are open, traffic volumes have increased and, although public transport capacity is not back to pre-March levels, it is significantly improved.’

A worker pictured removing the cycle lanes on Worthing High Street. Bike journeys also decreased by 44 per cent in Chapel Road and 14.9 per cent in Broadwater Road in September

Mr Elkins said the council feedback showed most people were opposed to the cycle paths, claiming they led to increased congestion.

Automatic traffic counters also showed that very few cyclists were using the lanes.  

It comes as Transport for London (TfL) confirms it will begin work to remove one of the pop-up cycle lanes on Euston Road this weekend.

A spokesperson for the transportation network told MailOnline: ‘In record time, over 90km of new and upgraded cycle lanes have been built or are under construction, with more being added to London’s expanding cycle network all the time. 

‘All Streetspace schemes have been put in as temporary measures and the Euston Road cycle lane was only ever a short term scheme, given the changes that will be needed along the road next year to accommodate HS2 works.

‘Protected cycle lanes play a vital role in reducing danger to vulnerable road users and enabling more people to cycle. 

‘However, our review of the Euston Road scheme found that the impact of the westbound cycle lane on buses and general traffic was outweighing the improvements for cycling, so, after investigating a number of options, we will be removing it. 

‘The eastbound cycle lane will remain in place for the time being.’

They added: ‘We will continue to work closely with the local community on our plans to make cycling in the area safer and easier.’

MailOnline has approached Kensington Council for comment.

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