Popular Kensington cycle lanes will not be reinstalled by council 

Kensington and Chelsea council removed the lanes after just seven weeks  

A popular cycle lane on a busy Kensington street will not be reinstalled, a council has ruled.

Kensington and Chelsea council made the controversial decision to remove the segregated cycle routes last December, just seven weeks after they were installed.

Despite the efforts of cycling campaigners and an impending legal action, on Wednesday (March 17), the council’s Conservative leadership unanimously decided not to reinstall the lanes, the Evening Standard reports.

Council leader Elizabeth Campbell said: “It’s pretty clear the consensus is we will not be reinstalling a temporary cycle lane.

“The temporary cycle lane won’t go in but we do want to have a look at what the world looks like post-covid and how we should respond.”

The lanes on High Street Kensington were installed during the coronavirus pandemic as a pop-up measure to get more people cycling.

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

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.

The decision is now at the centre of a legal challenge, as volunteer group Better Streets has instructed the Environmental Law Foundation to act on its behalf in challenging the lawfulness of the decision.

After Wednesday’s decision, the London Cycling Campaign called on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and transport minister Grant Schapps to intervene.

Healthy streets campaigner for the LCC, Clare Rogers said: “The cycle tracks, even though they were only in for a few weeks, proved a crucial safety measure for thousands of people daily, both on a strategic east-west route for London and for local trips such as families riding to school, on what was, and now is again, the most dangerous road in the borough for cycling. Kensington and Chelsea is clearly incapable of behaving as a responsible local authority for this highway, or following its own policies on road safety and the climate emergency. The Secretary of State for Transport and Mayor of London must address boroughs like this one, that act against or ignore government, regional and their own policies.”

The council 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.

Councillor Johnny Thalassites previously said: “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.”

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Earlier this year, a cyclist was left  injured after a traffic collision on the busy street.

Campaign group Better Streets for Kensington and Chelsea revealed that a cyclist was involved in a crash with a car on the morning of Thursday, January 21, which left him concussed.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.