118 responses to consultation on closing Garden Walk in London to cars came from just four computers

An attempt by a keyboard warrior to hijack a consultation and get cyclists banned from a 30m-long section of London street has been foiled by the council.

Hackney Council might have been surprised when it received more than 170 responses to its proposal to close one end of Garden Walk to vehicles, only allowing cyclists and pedestrians to pass through, but the reason became clear when it examined the online responses.

An officer’s response to the suggestion that cyclists should also be banned from the street noted that “a large number of the responses were similar in nature and no names provided” with further investigation noting that “the majority of responses were submitted from the same IP address [a label assigned to an individual computer]”.

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Although the officer noted that it was “possible that these responses may have been submitted on behalf of a number of people”, they also said that this would have been “highly unusual”.

The Hackney Gazzette reports that the council received 68 responses from a single computer, while a further three computers had been used to send a further 50 responses. This meant that four computers were used to send 118 of the 173 responses to the consultation.

The first computer was used to send messages over nine consecutive days during the consultation period in September and October, generally getting shorter in length transitioning from “I want to walk around my area in peace so it’s a good idea to stop cars being able to drive through the street. I think bikes should be banned as well as they would discourage walkers” to the more to-the-point “I don’t like cyclists or cars so I’d prefer it if they were all banned from the street.”

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Hackney Council said that there was an average of 66 cyclists travelling along the road each week, compared to 825 motorcycles, cars, vans, and lorries, with this low level of cycling “minimising the chances of pedestrian and cycle conflict occurring”.

The council therefore concluded that cyclists should be allowed to continue to use the road, although it did decide to plant trees at either end of the newly pedestrianised section of road in order to prevent cyclists riding too quickly along the 30m stretch.