Kensington and Chelsea: Shepherd’s Bush to Notting Hill 'cycleway' kicked further down the road by council

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said the project is still included in its capital pipeline, and that it is only not being delivered “at present”.
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A west London council which cancelled a section of a major new cycleway four years ago has confirmed it is now kicking an alternative scheme further down the track, a move cycling campaigners has slammed as adding "insult to injury".

Plans for a new, £42 million segregated cycleway, connecting Notting Hill Gate with Wood Lane via Shepherd’s Bush Green, were unveiled by Transport for London (TfL) in 2019. 

At the time, Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said the project would “make streets much more accessible and welcoming for everyone who lives, works or visits the area”.

However, the two-way cycle lane planned to be installed along Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park Avenue, which formed a key segment of the scheme, was scuppered by the local authority, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC), which said a consultation had returned “hundreds” of objections.

Following the decision, Mr Norman slammed the move as a “political stunt” and a “disgrace”, reported OnLondon.

The original scheme would have added not only protected cycle lanes but several new pedestrian crossings to Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate, the stretch of road where Eilidh Cairns was killed while cycling in 2009.

RBKC's vetoing of of the project also impacted the work planned in Hammersmith and Fulham, the neighbouring borough into which the cycleway would continue. Part of that section was to include Wood Lane, where scientist Chuijiang Kong, 23, was killed while cycling in October 2021.

Eilidh Cairns's ghost bike on Notting Hill Gate, a stretch of road where she was killed while cycling in 2009. Credit: Justin Abbott.Eilidh Cairns's ghost bike on Notting Hill Gate, a stretch of road where she was killed while cycling in 2009. Credit: Justin Abbott.
Eilidh Cairns's ghost bike on Notting Hill Gate, a stretch of road where she was killed while cycling in 2009. Credit: Justin Abbott.

An alternative route was subsequently worked on by the council in 2020, which would also run from Shepherd’s Bush to Notting Hill.

Justin Abbott, a member of Better Streets for Kensington and Chelsea, however said it involved very little new infrastructure, and would have taken cyclists via a winding route through a series of back streets, making it 75% longer than the original scheme.

Clare Rogers, Central London Coordinator for London Cycling Campaign, added it “would have done nothing to either attract new people to cycling or protect the 2-3,000 people cycling daily on Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park Avenue”.

In a screengrab uploaded to X by SafeCycleLDN, an account which shares maps and other cycling information for those travelling around the capital, a Freedom of Information request (FOI) is shown asking the council the timeline for the new route's delivery, given the local authority had said previously it would enter construction in 2022/23.

In response, the council writes the project “is no longer proceeding other than the St John’s Gardens element, which will proceed as a stand-alone two-way cycling scheme”.

An RBKC spokesperson confirmed to LondonWorld that work to deliver the route “is not proceeding”, other than the St John’s Gardens segment.

They added however it is still included in the council’s capital pipeline, and is only not being delivered “at present”.

“The original scheme crossed Portobello Road and now that we have recruited a new community panel of local voices to inform improvements, we will consider walking and cycling needs as part of the bigger strategic plan for the area,” they said.

“This summer we have focused on improving east-west provision for cycling on Kensington High Street, with the same to follow on Fulham Road later this year.”

On the news the council is delaying works, Ms Rogers said: “The fact that they haven’t even delivered this poor alternative scheme just adds insult to injury, coming from a council that has done so little to improve safety for people cycling, and so much to actively block it. 

“The new stop-start advisory cycle lanes on two short stretches of Kensington High Street is a tiny, weak step in the right direction, but it needs significant beefing up, and rapidly extending to other dangerous roads in the borough, if anyone is to take RBKC seriously on active travel, climate or tackling road danger.”

The “advisory cycle lanes” on Kensington High Street were implemented after a public consultation found more than 60% of respondents at least partially backed plans to have the sections delineated using white paint.

Cycling groups however criticised RBKC for not installing physically-protected tracks. A High Court case was launched after the council removed segregated cycle lanes in December 2020 after just seven weeks, though a judge threw it out earlier this year.

In 2022, out of 664 total road casualties in Kensington and Chelsea, 140 were cyclists, a 20% reduction on the year before, according to TfL data.