West Central Assembly Member Tony Devenish and Kensington MP Felicity Buchan have issued a joint statement calling for Kensington High Street’s cycle lane to be removed as swiftly as possible. A temporary cycle lane from Westminster to South Kensington has been created using the inside lane of Kensington High Street. This has led to complaints of increased congestion and air pollution on the already busy thoroughfare.
A survey conducted by Tony Devenish found that 80% of residents opposed the new cycle scheme. In addition, a petition by the Kensington Business Forum calling for the lane’s removal has attracted over 3,000 signatures. Seven residents’ associations and the Chelsea and Kensington Chamber of Commerce also oppose the cycle lane. Having listened to the views of numerous constituents and residents’ associations, it has become clear to Tony and Felicity, that the High Street is not the correct place for the new cycle lane. Acting on these views they have joined forces to call for the immediate removal of the lane as the High Street reopens following the lockdown.
Tony Devenish said, “While I fully support efforts to boost cycling in West Central, it is important that new cycle lanes do not increase traffic or lead to greater levels of air pollution. It is clear that Kensington High Street’s new cycle lane is simply not in the best interests of local people and businesses.”
Tony added, “That is why I have issued a joint statement, together with Kensington’s outstanding MP Felicity Buchan, making our view clear that Kensington High Street’s cycle lane should be removed as quickly as possible.”
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You can read our Joint Statement below.
As the Member of Parliament for Kensington, and as the Member of the London Assembly for West Central respectively, we want to start by making clear that cycling is an excellent way to travel, and we have both always been strongly in favour of encouraging active travel, especially now in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Cycling is a great way for people to get around, with physical and mental health benefits, the potential to reduce vehicle congestion in Kensington, and provides a valuable socially-distanced alternative to public transport.
This is why we did not oppose the process of installing the temporary lane and approached it with a positive mindset, hoping that this scheme would be a success, and actively encouraging Residents’ Associations and those with misgivings to have an open mind. We made clear that the cycle lane needed a fair period of operation to prove itself, and it was only if it was clear that the temporary cycle lane had failed in its objectives, that we would advocate for its removal.
Now that Phase 1 of the cycle lane is in place and has had a fair chance to operate, it is apparent to most people who use the High Street to travel, whether on a bike or other form of transport, that Kensington High Street is not an appropriate location for a cycle lane, either for cyclists or all other road users.
We have both had a vast amount of correspondence from concerned constituents, with the Parliamentary inbox receiving 96% of comments against and only 4% in favour. The residents associations VRARA, KSRA, ESSA, ECSRA, KCRA. Melbury Court; and Kensington Residents Group, also now oppose the cycle lane.
The Kensington Society has urged the Council to remove the cycle lane; and the Kensington & Chelsea Chamber of Commerce opposes the cycle lane, stating that it does not benefit Kensington and Chelsea businesses in its current form.
A petition against the scheme has now attracted over 3000 signatures, and a recent Survey by the Kensington Business Forum showed that a vast majority of the local businesses are against the Scheme.
Finally, a survey conducted by Tony Devenish, found 80% of RBKC residents opposed the cycle lane.
TfL has always placed RBKC under immense pressure to implement a cycleway scheme, and have threatened to take over Borough roads. It is now clear that TfL severely miscalculated the impact of such schemes, which require careful analysis.
We would fully encourage RBKC to explore expanding their highly successful Quietways programme, and we note the success of other measures such as on Portobello Road. Anything that is done to promote active travel must be safe, fair, and balanced for all road users, including the elderly, children, and disabled.
We would like to see the cycle lane remain until the end of the current lockdown on 2nd December. However, we believe that this scheme needs to be removed swiftly as soon as we exit lockdown, to allow businesses along the High Street a period of unimpeded business, in the run-up to Christmas, and following the very real difficulties they have faced during the coronavirus restrictions. Kensington High Street is simply not the correct location, and we must act in the interests of our constituents.
Felicity Buchan MP
Member of Parliament for Kensington
Member of the London Assembly for West Central