Drivers and residents of East London have branded plans to create a mini-Holland the work of a "cycling Taliban”.
Residents of Waltham Forest say the £30 million scheme, which will involve road closures and driving restrictions, is creating pollution and delays as it gets underway.
A petition, signed by more than 3,500 people, calls for the Mayor Sadiq Khan to reopen roads. The petition comes in the same week that the Waltham Forest Mini Holland scheme won an award from the Chartered Institute of Highways & Transportation and was praised by judges for the environmental benefits it had delivered for local residents and businesses.
The anti Mini Holland petition says:
Since the road closures the traffic congestion and pollution on the roads that haven't been closed has increased massively
Road closures have greatly increased journey times for all of us. People particularly affected include people with disabilities and their carers; emergency vehicles; delivery lorries; refuse collectors; small businesses; women needing to trip-chain; bus users.
Closing roads has absolutely nothing to do with encouraging cycling. Other boroughs have implemented great and welcome improvements for cyclists without closing roads.
Wendy Davis, who helped set up the petition and called the campaigners a 'cycling Taliban', told the Evening Standard: “No one is against cycling. Many of the people signing the petition are cyclists themselves but anyone opposing any aspect of mini-Holland is branded as a wicked environment polluter and much worse.
“No-one can explain why closing roads assists cyclists in any way. Closing roads drives all the traffic onto fewer streets. What about the poor people who live, work, walk, go to school on those streets?”
And fellow protester Christine Grieg said: “I don’t think it’s lessening pollution and any increased quietness in residential streets is more than made up for with increased congestion on main roads.”
But Simon Monk from the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign said: "These claims that it's caused Armageddon are just not the case. A lot of the claims made on the petition are kind of scaremongering.
"Sadiq Khan has publicly pledges to protect funding for mini-Hollands in London boroughs with certain conditions. We're going to get more of these things, not less, right across London.”
A spokesman for Waltham Forest council said: "We’re improving public spaces, introducing routes to help residents who choose to walk or cycle and in some cases where appropriate, closing roads to vehicles so residents have less traffic, noise and pollution outside their homes.
"Each area is looked at individually and a road will only be closed to vehicles if the residents living there say during the consultation that they want it closed. If the majority want it kept open, it will stay open.
"The bottom line is that local people make the decision, not people living in other areas.”
In February, we reported how the court documents for the failed case to stop Waltham Forest's mini-Holland scheme were published online, with the judge ruling against any possibility of appeal saying: "The ... way in which the application is made shows the unfortunate tendency in this case for the claimant's argument to shift."
The damning court evidence came after last November’s case, where we reported how the group E17 Streets for All had an attempt to have the initiative blocked thrown out of court.
E17 Streets for All claimed that the borough had not followed the consultation process correctly, but was ordered to pay the council costs of £12,000.
Solicitor Sarah Williams, its representative, was given 28 days to pay the costs.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.