TfL (Transport for London) consultation on cycle lanes/traffic flow changes in Notting Hill Gate
UPDATE: RBK&C rejection of the TfL cycle lane plans
At a 13th June 2019 meeting organised by The Kensington Society, TfL presented their plans for as segregated cycle route running through Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate. In an unexpected move, Cllr. Johnny Thalassites, RBK&C Cabinet Member for Planning and Transport and the Leader, Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, announced that RBKC had decided to oppose the scheme. Their position statement can be read here
You can also request paper copies of plans and a response form, in other formats and languages by emailing email@example.com, writing to FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS (Wood Lane to Notting Hill Gate), or calling 0343 222 1155
During the presentation and discussion at our HVRA EGM on 13th May 2019 a number of points were raised:
Increase in traffic & pollution
Huge increase in congestion and idling traffic caused by the funnelling of two lanes into one at several points in the scheme.
Blockage for emergency vehicles
Our Chair, Sophie Massey-Cook noted that when asked at their exhibition about any studies of the traffic and other effects of the cycle lane changes at Lancaster Gate, TfL had no answers at all.
Damage to local businesses
The proposal threatens to damage business for local shops, because of anticipated difficulties with deliveries and the effect of the removal of parking/congestion on customer footfall. Danny Lidgate is actively campaigning against the TfL proposals, as he was when fighting off the “Red Route”; the Lidgates perspective can be followed on Twitter: @Lidgates or sign up to their newsletter at www.lidgates.com . NHG retail outlets are already suffering: Tylers is shortly to close, Apostrophe has been empty for over a year, restaurant Polpo now only opens three evenings per week and never at lunchtime…
Safety for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly children and less confident cyclists, will be compromised by opposing directions of fast-moving cycle traffic. All pedestrians would have to cross a 2 way “cycle motorway”.
Sam Dunkley, HVRA Treasurer, noted the plans would create new one way “rat runs” at Norland Square and Pembridge Gardens, and recalled the fixing of the severe rat run problems in Holland Park by the closure of Clarendon Cross over 30 years ago.
A number of bus stops would be moved. The proposals remove the stop outside the Czech Embassy and relocated it 100m to the west.
We are sceptical, however, TfL have published a modelling of changes to journey times. This can be found here
Removal of 27 Notting Hill Gate trees
Fiona Fleming Brown of the Pembridge Association explained that she had been a prime mover in the Notting Hill Gate Improvement Group (NHIG) some 20 years ago. Funds were raised by public subscription to plant trees in the central reservation and either side of the main road in the hope that Notting Hill Gate could become a more green and pleasant place to shop, work and live. The trees are now a treasured feature of Notting Hill Gate, helping to mitigate pollution and the wind tunnel effect caused by the taller than usual buildings. A petition has been launched (“SAVE THE TREES “) to protect our beautiful mature trees. Since the petition launched, it has emerged that the number of trees at risk is 27, not 19 as stated. TfL promise, wherever possible, they will reposition trees elsewhere in the area, but given that the Notting Hill Improvements group placed trees wherever space and planting depth permitted, it is unlikely that TfL will find many additional spots. The HVRA Committee urges all members and supporters to sign the petition asap and encourage other local contacts to do the same and spread the word. Fiona comments: “You cannot just uproot mature trees and replant them, many will not survive. Nor will they necessarily be planted in the area. Please do take a look at them next time you are in Notting Hill Gate and ask your Ward Councillors and TfL when you respond to TfL’s proposals to save the trees".
At the HVRA meeting, Cllr Wason noted that some more circuitous cycle routes had been discussed in RBKC, and Emma Dent Coad MP, also expressed strong objection to the threatened removal of trees and damage to the NHG environment. One member proposed that the 20mph speed limit which has been successful west of Shepherd’s Bush was the obvious solution to the safety problem, and would assist in the anti-pollution drive. (It would also be quicker, cheaper and simpler than the proposed £3m scheme). Fiona concluded that while TfL had correctly identified a problem, they have the wrong solution.
Check-list of issues:
removal of one lane for vehicles, potentially causing traffic issues, pollution and blockage of emergency vehicle routes
removal of the island down the middle of NHG; effect on safety for those crossing the road
implications of bus station locations
removal of meter parking bays; risk of further independent business closures
removal of 24 NHG trees, few, if any, of which would be replaced; loss of the wind-break. Fewer trees to absorb pollution and baffle noise.
removal of left turn into Holland Park Avenue from Royal Crescent
Single lane for cyclists travelling in both directions; speed and collision risks for bikes and pedestrians
creation of one way “rat runs” in Norland Square and Pembridge Gardens; general diversion of traffic into side streets.
The dangers of bi-directional cycle lanes, as proposed for Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park Avenue, are illustrated on this section of CS3 (East/West Cycle Superhighway). This is one of the narrowest, yet it doesn't stop some people from riding too fast and trying to overtake at busy times, with life-threatening results.