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‘Cycle superhighway’ work set to start as row escalates

CS11 scheme splits opinion as opponents prepare legal challenge

22 June, 2018 — By Tom Foot

An illustration of how the ‘cycle superhighway’ could look

WORK to create a new “cycle superhighway” will start next month despite a legal challenge to the scheme being filed by campaigners and Westminster Council, according to the Mayor of London.

On Tuesday City Hall said it plans to press ahead with ripping up the Swiss Cottage gyratory as part of its CS11 in July.

“They are plans we are sticking to”, said an officer, who described the legal challenge as “disgraceful” and “political posturing”.

The CS11 project aims to create a safe cycling route by removing the one-way system at Swiss Cottage and reducing traffic on the Outer Circle of Regent’s Park.

Resident groups in St John’s Wood have warned that traffic will be forced off Finchley Road into quiet back streets. There is also an ongoing row about whether entrance “gates” to Regent’s Park should be shut to road vehicles. Westminster Council said it has been left with “no choice” but to file a judicial review in the High Court.

It argues no work should start until the Regent’s Park gate dispute is resolved and it has received “assurances” about displaced traffic.

There have been two years of protests about CS11 from resident groups but the scheme is widely backed by cyclists and environmentalists.

A statement from the Conservative-run council added: “As [Transport for London] is starting to proceed with the Swiss Cottage section, without our support for the scheme as a whole, we have been left with no choice but to back our residents and to legally challenge the scheme.”

The council is backing the challenge put forward by lawyer Jessica Learmond-Criqui. She had sent a “letter before action” to the Mayor of London and TfL.

Westminster Council said its challenge is based on “misleading assessments” about how the disruption will be handled and the benefits of the changes, and that there has been a failure to consider the Equality Act.

The council and TfL are at war after the local authority backed out of the mayor’s flagship Oxford Street pedestrianisation plan.

A joint statement from the London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets groups said: “By its actions, Westminster Council is putting people needlessly at risk of harm for purely political reasons. We urge it to put people’s safety first and stop attempting to wreck efforts to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on London’s roads.”

The Mayor’s Office said: “The fact that Westminster councillors are now trying to stop a new cycle route being built, just weeks after pulling the plug on Oxford Street improvements, is disgraceful. The idea that Westminster Council think they can hold the rest of London to ransom is totally unacceptable. Both of these schemes have significant public support.

“They will make a real difference to making London’s streets safer and cleaner and they shouldn’t be held up by petty political posturing.”

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