‘One of the stars’: Cycling campaigners heap praise on Camden’s environmental efforts

A separate cycle lane proposal for High Holborn

Cycling campaigners say moves to make travel greener in Camden have made the area “one of the stars”  in the capital.

London Cycling Campaign (LCC) produced a report card for London boroughs that measures their progress in delivering on environmental pledges.

It said Camden is one of the areas that has “surged ahead in delivering on active travel, emissions and road danger reduction” and also one of the top areas for a reduction in people driving cars.

LCC said: “Camden is one of the stars of London on climate-safe streets – not only committing to a bold and rapid roads decarbonisation programme but broadly keeping it on track.”

It had asked the council to deliver five kilometres of protected bike lanes a year, with 44km by 2026.

The council said it is on track for nearly 30km of segregated bike lanes.

Moves include the £541,000 Haverstock Hill bike lanes opposed by some residents and businesses who feared the impact on customers, including those with disabilities who need to park nearby.

Opposition councillors, who called the plan in two years ago, said the steepness of the hill could deter some cyclists and suggested an alternative route.

LCC praised the West End Project on Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street.

The organisation has campaigned for work to improve an accident hotspot in Holborn where eight cyclists have died since 2008 as well as one in King’s Cross where three cyclists have lost their lives in recent years.

Its report said: “Where the council should increase focus is on road danger – while collision rates are dropping due to rising cycling and walking levels, actual numbers of collisions are not coming down fast enough, and progress on road danger reduction was slowing pre-pandemic.”

Last August, the council brought in improvements at Holborn, including a new cycle gate at Southampton Row on the junction with the busy Theobalds Road, so bikes could move before the general traffic.

Other moves welcomed by the LCC include School Streets, where schools are closed to traffic at the start and end of the school day.

Last year, opposition Conservative councillors called in the School Street plans for five schools after residents said they felt “trapped in their own homes” as it made it more difficult to get out or have visitors.

LCC also praised the council’s low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), which have proved controversial. Critics say the schemes simply move motorised traffic and pollution elsewhere.

Cllr Adam Harrison, Camden’s cabinet member with responsibility for sustainability, said: “We’re proud of the work we’ve achieved to make cycling and walking easier in Camden for our residents.”

He added: “We know we must go further and we will continue to make progress to deliver on our ambitions as outlined in our Cycling Action Plan to make Camden a greener, cleaner and safer place for cyclists and pedestrians.”

Camden Council campaigned in a bid to stop Transport for London (TfL) from removing a bike lane on Euston Road.

TfL said the bike lane was only used by 1,500 people, there were alternative routes on quieter streets nearby, and the loss of the space meant bus journeys took longer.

It also said the road would be used by vehicles delivering materials for the HS2 work at Euston. The government has since paused work there to look at the spiralling costs of the proposed new HS2 station.

LCC said that Tower Hamlets is the only borough that saw an increase in car use over the decade to 2020, with a four per cent rise.

Rob Whitehead, the Centre for London’s director of strategic development, said leaders throughout the capital need to take action.

If they don’t, more Londoners will die or get seriously harmed on the roads. Fewer of us will get the health benefits of walking and cycling. More will suffer from the blights of congestion and pollution. And we will have missed a hiding-in-plain-sight opportunity to tackle the climate emergency.”

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