Kensington & ChelseaNews

Campaigners lose judicial review of council decision to axe cycle lanes

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

Campaigners claim a road in a west London borough does not have a single metre of protected cycle lanes after the High Court upheld a decision to scrap pop-up paths.

Walking and cycling campaigners requested a judicial review of the way Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC) axed the cycle lanes in December 2020 after complaints from a number of residents and businesses.

The lanes, which used plastic wands to create space for cyclists on either side of the high street, were introduced at a cost of £171,500 to encourage walking and cycling during the pandemic – but were axed just seven weeks later.

High Street Kensington is part of a key west-to-east corridor used by cyclists riding in and out of central London and campaigners said it has no protected cycle lanes.

After axing the lanes to a backdrop of widespread protests, including from children and school teachers, the council ratified its decision in March 2021.

But Mr Justice Lane, in a written judgement on Tuesday dismissed the claim from the Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea group and found in favour of the Tory-run council.

Better Streets said afterwards: “We are sorry to report that we have lost our judicial review case on the removal of the cycle lanes on High Street Kensington. We are not going to appeal the judgement, and so this marks the end of a legal process that began in December 2020.

“No one seriously thinks that removing a safety scheme after seven weeks, before it’s even been completed, makes sense.”

They added: “RBKC remains without a single metre of protected cycle lane in the whole borough. No one thinks this is because of some strange topography. It’s just the continuation of a decades-long policy that looks increasingly reckless as time passes.”

Campaigners said there was a one-mile gap in the cycling route from Hounslow to Barking and that Kensington and Chelsea “will act as a barrier to safe active travel for Londoners”.

RBKC’s councillor Sina Lari said the council had a responsibility to protect and improve safe cycle infrastructure.

Labour’s chief whip said: “RBKC has wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of their own residents’ money removing a safe cycle lane and then opposing their own residents in Court.

“The Borough is in desperate need of – and the majority of residents support – an east-west cycle route through Kensington High Street which is vital for connectivity, environmental protection and road safety.

“RBKC cannot prevaricate forever; I have no doubt that residents ultimately will win the fight and a cycle lane will be implemented at some point in the future.”

A council spokesmsn said: “The judge has ruled in the council’s favour and dismissed the claim made by Better Streets. Our priority is to make Kensington and Chelsea a greener, safer and fairer place to live.

“We are happy to put legal challenges aside and look forward to working together on productive improvements to our streets. We commissioned independent research on travel patterns on our roads from the Centre for London and they published their reports in March and October 2022. We have very recently sought the views of our Citizen’s Panel and are carefully considering the findings.”

Pictured top: Cyclists using the Kensington High Street cycle lane in November 2020 before it was removed (Picture: Better Streets For Kensington And Chelsea)

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