London’s cycling commissioner: ‘Give the new Euston Road a chance’
TfL’s cycling czar faces questions over traffic jams after introduction of new safety measures
30 July, 2020 — By Richard Osley
The new cycle lane
ONE of the key figures behind the dramatic reordering of London’s streets has called for the cycle lane in Euston Road to be given a chance and for “human decision” to play out.
The new measures on one of the capital’s busiest roads have split opinion: supporters are delighted that it is now easier to cycle through, while opponents say taking a lane out has caused a growing traffic jam and pushed cars into residential streets.
Hundreds of schemes are being implemented to make walking and cycling easier as people reduce their use of public transport in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Many will be consulted on or evaluated after the changes have been put in.
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Will Norman, Transport for London’s walking and cycling czar, told City Hall’s transport committee on Thursday: “I get a lot of correspondence from a lot of different people. I get a balance of people who really like some of this stuff, and really, really object to some of this stuff. You get irate correspondence on both sides.”
But he added: “If there are problems with them, we are monitoring them and we can change them – they are temporary – but I do want to give these schemes enough time to bed in, so people can adapt to them.”
It had been suggested at the meeting that road traffic “was like water, it has to go somewhere”.
But Mr Norman said: “The evidence is that traffic isn’t like water, there is human decision here. We need to let some of these schemes bed in a little bit and understand it.”
He said Euston Road “had only just gone in” but claims of gridlock in a similar scheme in Park Lane did not bear out in journey time figures; he said they were on average 40 seconds longer for drivers. He had been taking questions from panellists including David Kurten, a Brexit Alliance London Assembly member who sits in front of a Union Jack flag at videocall meetings.
“I’m hearing there are immense amounts of congestion,” he said. “I understand you want people to get out of private cars and walk and cycle. “But it’s business owners who have to make deliveries, it’s emergency vehicles, it’s taxis who have to pick up disabled people. And they don’t have the access that they would do. You need to think about these people.”