London cycle lane vote passes despite Conservatives saying 3.5 per cent climb 'is too steep for elderly and kids'

The road in question is described as Camden's steepest A-road

Havestock Hill
(Image credit: Google Maps)

Camden council in London has recently passed a vote allowing a cycle lane to be put in despite claims by Conservatives the road was "too steep for elderly and kids".

Havestock Hill has an average gradient of 3.5 per cent, with short parts nudging five per cent, and is described as Camden's steepest A-road. Conservative councillor Oliver Cooper has claimed the elderly and children will not use the cycle lanes due to the gradients.

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Reported in the Camden Journal, Cooper was quoted as saying: "Haverstock Hill is one of the most daunting climbs in London, and that won’t change with cycle lanes. Camden has said that they are basing their decision on a TfL report that does not consider the steep incline at all.

"Children will not cycle up it, new cyclists will not cycle up it, and elderly people will not cycle up it. Yet Camden’s model has expressly assumed that everyone – whatever their age and whatever their disability – could cycle up and down that hill. This is detached from reality, and it’s why the vast majority of residents opposed the proposal in Camden’s own consultation."

The new cycle has, however, been met with a largely positive response with London's Cycling and Walking Commissioner describing Cooper's claims as "nonsense" adding that a cycle lane is even more important on a climb as speeds of cars and bikes are far greater. 

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The Conservative councillors, led by Cooper, have used a 'call-in' that forwards to plans to Camden's culture and environment committee who can approve, ask for more work to be done, or call a debate for it to be reconsidered.

The lane is set to be just over a kilometre on Havestock Hill from the junction with Prince of Wales Road, north of Chalk Farm tube station all the way up to Pond Street and the Royal Free Hospital with Belsize Park included on the route.

More responses on Twitter have some saying the climb is "not a hill" with another adding: "As the local legend on Strava for this hill, I can confidently say it's not steep at all. It's an alpine climb with an average gradient of less than 5 per cent! E-bikes on cycle paths will make this much more of a game-changer for the non-lycra cyclist."

Another user spoke of how another climb that doesn't have a cycle lane is dangerous for cyclists due to the lack of a lane: "Shooters Hill is steep and there isn’t a cycle lane. There very well should be one as more cars pass when you are on a bike as you crawl up there slowly."

A decision from the committee is expected on the evening of Friday, August 27.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

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.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.