Supporters of the proposed Cycle Superhighway 11, planned to run between Swiss Cottage and Portland Place, held a rally at Regent’s Park on Friday afternoon in response to claims by opponents that the scheme will make traffic worse and limit access to the park.
Around 150 cyclists gathered to hear speeches from Mustafa Arif of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) and Donnachadh McCarthy of Stop Killing Cyclists (SKC), who both called on supporters of CS11 to continue the fight against “dinosaurs” for better cycling provision in the capital.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
Arif, a campaign organiser for LCC, told those gathered at the rally: “The reason we are here is that a couple of thousand of residents – out of hundreds of thousands – are kicking up a big stink. They are either dinosaurs addicted to their cars, or they are in thrall to dinosaurs whose favour they want to curry. The fact is most residents do not own a car. Even those who are motorists, the majority support the case for transferring road space to bicycles.”
SKC co-founder McCarthy said: “We are in a war, and we are winning. We are sick and tired of hearing about the war on cars. What there is is a war on humanity.”
The TfL consultation on CS11 ends on March 20 and supporters and opponents alike have ramped up their rhetoric as the closing date approaches, with both sides accusing the other of making false claims about the potential impact of the scheme.
In an opinion piece for the Guardian on Thursday, London cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan wrote: “Alas, much of the opposition [to CS11] seems to be based on a largely-imagined scheme, quite different to the one we’re proposing. They’ve even got the route wrong. An invitation to a protest meeting – sent out by a solicitor, no less – claims that Finchley Road will be ‘a cycle superhighway [where] you will only have access to two lanes shared with buses.’ The superhighway will not run on Finchley Road at any point.”
Meanwhile, former police officer Daniel Howard, who has set up a petition against the scheme, which currently has 3,791 signatures, told a meeting – attended by Gilligan – in Hampstead on Wednesday: “This is a fundamentally flawed cycle superhighway scheme. HS2 is not mentioned once in TfL’s consultation. It will be completed in 2033. It will mean 16 years of traffic chaos. All of the traffic disruption from HS2 was published over two years ago by Camden Council, and yet TfL had not included HS2 in the modelling for the cycle highway.”
Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith declared that, if he was elected in May, he would ask TfL to provide evidence of the wider impacts of CS11.
In a press release on Wednesday, he said: “I do not consider Cycle Superhighway 11 a ‘fait accompli’ and if elected I will ask TfL to clearly demonstrate that they have taken a holistic look at the combined impact of not just this scheme but also the construction work associated with HS2 and other developments on pollution, local buses and the school run.”
It continued: “I expect the Cycle Superhighways to do a great job, but policy needs to be based on evidence, and if residents’ fears about congestion are borne out, then we weill have to look again. We need a cycling programme that works for everyone.”
A TfL spokesman said: “As part of a network of Cycle Superhighways across London, CS11 would improve conditions for existing cyclists and help make cycling attractive to more people. We are proposing significant changes to existing road layouts and junctions to make them safer and more convenient for cyclists and pedestrians, taking account of local conditions and other demands.”