By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
Green campaigners created a pop-up bike lane as they called for transport bosses to ensure streets stay safe for cyclists and pedestrians after lockdown.
The group from Extinction Rebellion Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham made the temporary bike lane at Holland Park Avenue.
The road links west London through Kensington and into the City.
They said as lockdown restrictions ease the level of traffic is increasing and there could be more vehicles on the road as people are advised to avoid public transport.
They told Kensington and Chelsea council and Transport for London (TfL) that traffic “dramatically decreases available space for people to walk, cycle, sit and play safely in our communities,” and vehicle emissions contribute to 9,500 preventable deaths a year.
And they said speeding traffic was also dangerous, and traffic noise was ending the calm and birdsong that has “so enhanced our communities’ well-being over the last three months”.
The group challenged the council to look again at Tfl’s plans for a cycle lane along Holland Park Avenue.
Last year the council rejected the plan following concerns by many residents, including objections over planned tree felling.
The plans were controversial and many cyclists and green campaigners were disappointed by the decision.
TfL was consulting about amended plans before lockdown earlier this year.
Extinction Rebellion said: “We are in a different world with a renewed groundswell of support for active transport as a way to get on with our lives whilst protecting public health.
“We believe a better future is possible.”
The campaigners added: “Just like us, thousands of people in RBKC are demanding cleaner air, quieter streets, and a safer infrastructure to walk and cycle, particularly on main roads and high streets.”
They called on the council and TfL to work together saying: “We demand Transport for London and RBKC work together on a short-term strategy for the borough’s streets as it comes out of lockdown.”
Councillor Johnny Thalassites said: “We are a fantastically-cycling borough.”
He said 11,000 people opposed the scheme last year but added: “We can see it’s not democratically sustainable to ask people to go ahead with a route that means fewer trees and more congestion according to TfL’s own data.”
The council called a climate emergency last year and it aims to ultimately become a carbon neutral borough.
Cllr Thalassites said: “It’s not the right thing for Kensington to go ahead with a costly scheme that means worse air quality.”
The move comes after the council asked TfL to fund a temporary bike and pedestrian route at one of London’s most iconic shopping roads at High Street Kensington.
TfL is funding temporary changes across the capital to help maintain social distancing and get shops, cafes, restaurants and bars back on their feet after lockdown.
The route would run the length of High Street Kensington and would also mean there was enough space for deliveries as well as extra room for pedestrians at pinch points.
Before lockdown, crossing points and the exit to the Underground near Marks and Spencer and several bus stops attracted large numbers of pedestrians.
The council is speeding up plans on new bike routes for Shepherd’s Bush, Notting Hill and Holland Park, and from Kensington High Street to Notting Hill.
It has also put in a new cycle crossing at Pembridge Villas in Notting Hill and future plans include an upgrade to the Chelsea Bridge Road bike lane.
It widened pavements outside Notting Hill Gate and High Street Kensington Tube stations and outside Waitrose in King’s Road to help with social distancing, and is bringing in a 20mph speed limit across the borough.
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