Extinction Rebellion and Stop Killing Cyclists delay removal of Kensington High Street bike lane

The cycle lane is being scrapped after just seven weeks after a small number of complaints to the council

An Extinction Rebellion and Stop Killing Cyclists protest has delayed work to remove the cycle lanes that have been placed in Kensington High Street, which are being torn down after just seven weeks.

Kensington and Chelsea council announced that they would be removing the £700,000 cycle lane after receiving just over 300 complaints, but the decision has faced by a lot of opposition, including by the likes of Giro d'Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart and BBC Radio two presenter Jeremy Vine among others.

The number of cyclists using the stretch of road in Kensington High Street, which leads into central London, has doubled to around 4,000 people each day according to some reports, raising questions about why the council has made the decision.

A spokesperson for the authority said that it has received 322 email complaints from residents about the cycle lane – the population of the borough is around 160,000.

When the council's contract workers arrived at the scene on Wednesday night (December 2) to remove the lane barriers, they were met by protesters who stopped them.

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The protesters blocked the lane and prevented the removal of the fixed bollards that are in the road.

Demonstrators then moved onto the nearby offices of the Daily Mail and Mail Online, to protest articles run by the news organisations opposing cycle lanes.

The council previously said the scheme was opposed by Kensington Business Forum, the Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Trade and Commerce and disability group Action Disability K&C, which it says was concerned about the impact on its members.

But in another twist, the Business Forum released a statement saying that its views had been misrepresented.

A statement from the organisation, said: "The views shared with Kensington and Chelsea are of local businesses and not that of our executive committee.

"Regrettably this has been represented, in certain public forums, as our opposition to cycle lanes. This is not the case, but the views of local businesses (both for and against) who provided feedback to the Kensington Business Forum for this current scheme."

In response to protestors blocking the work, the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, Councillor Johnny Thalassites, wrote an open letter, calling for the people to "consider others."

He said: "Last night, workers from our contractor Conways were forced to halt work on removing the temporary cycle lane from Kensington High Street, by Extinction Rebellion.

"The action taken will have cost our residents money, was conducted purely in self interest, and was nothing more than another PR stunt.

"They saw an opportunity for themselves, and decided to hijack a local issue and debate."

According to the council leader, the authority received 1,000 emails, with 58 per cent supporting the cycle lanes and 42 per cent against.

But of those 1,000 Cllr Thalassites added that 69 per cent of the people who identified themselves as living in the borough were against the scheme.

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He added: "We decided to end the cycle lane trial because it wasn't working. Residents have told us so, businesses have told us so.

"On top of that, this period is vital for businesses and they have made it clear to us that this is not the time to be experimenting, when, frankly, our high streets are facing their toughest test in decades."

"This isn't just about shops, deliveries, and access. It is about jobs and livelihoods.

"This isn't the end, we are still listening, and we are still looking at ways to improve cycling provision, long term – but our focus is likely to shift to alternative schemes that have a positive impact for our residents."

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Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

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