Last-minute opposition by Westminster city council to park gate closures could leave the new superhighway ‘dead’, says former London cycling commissioner
Fri 19 Jan 2018
He said: “Westminster have a way of never being quite clear, you don’t know what they are supporting until the last minute. It was only when the consultation results came back that it became clear there was opposition about traffic displacement [on to Westminster’s roads] and that’s really what’s created the issue.”
CS11, due to run from Swiss Cottage to the West End, was proposed and consulted on under the former mayor, Boris Johnson, and Gilligan, his cycling commissioner, in 2016, but work on the route has not started.
The London Cycling Campaign’s Simon Munk says the reduced gate closure times will not tackle the problem of the afternoon school run, one of the major contributors to park traffic.
“Long term, through motor traffic has no business in any park, particularly this one,” says Munk. “It shouldn’t be acceptable that massive volumes of motor traffic, saving a minute or two on people’s journeys, are cutting through the park.”
“Every day, let alone every week and month that goes by, we risk further collisions.”
The two-gate closure plan has not been made public, and will reportedly not be consulted on again. CEPC, which is unrelated to the Crown Estate, says they “certainly won’t reduce the through traffic in the park very significantly”.
A senior City Hall source told the Guardian the discussions have delayed work on the CS11 route north of the park, as funnelling large numbers of cyclists on to the outer circle in its current state is considered a safety risk.
Jack says the CEPC does not want the scheme to fail, after “hundreds of hours” negotiating plans with stakeholders. “We were happy to support those [previously consulted] ideas because they had a strong chance of improving the park,” he said. “It’s a recreational space, you want to be safe cycling in a park. Whatever proposals happen, we take a park view: are they going to work for the park, are they going to improve the environment for all park users? That’s our frame of reference.”
Gilligan lays the blame at London mayor Sadiq Khan’s feet, saying Westminster was the “most lukewarm” main stakeholder during his discussions on CS11, but “if the mayor does really want something, and is prepared to press for it, you can overcome stakeholder opposition”.
The Royal Parks and Camden city council both say they support current proposals.
A spokesperson for Khan said: “Despite the positive consultation results there has to be agreement from all responsible authorities for the plans to be progressed, and we continue to work with all stakeholders to take these plans forward.”
A Westminster spokesperson said: “Westminster city council is one of a number of organisations consulted on this scheme and is not the decision making authority. The council was not supportive of the original proposal for the Regent’s Park gate closure.”