Just months after the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) was labelled “embarrassing” and its councillors “dinosaurs” for installing a painted, advisory cycle lane on sections of a road where protected cycling infrastructure had been ripped out two years previously, cycling campaigners are once again up in arms over the local authority’s decision to paint another advisory lane that it says will allow “space for everyone” – but that activists claim will do nothing to combat the “terrible rate of cycling casualties” in the area.
Advisory cycle lanes are set to be painted next week on Fulham Road, a busy thoroughfare in west London, after a council consultation found that 71 percent of residents were in favour of the scheme.
The local authority claims the painted cycle lane will “strike the right balance” on Fulham Road by making room for cyclists while also keeping motor traffic “moving”. However, the London Cycling Campaign has argued that the infrastructure is “nowhere near adequate” to keep people safe.
The new lane comes hot on the heels of a similar initiative from RBCK on Kensington High Street, which saw the introduction of “broken (dashed) painted white line” cycle lanes that the council said can be “used by vehicles other than pedal cycles when clear” in July – just over two years after segregated infrastructure was controversially scrapped by the local authority on the same road, prompting an ultimately unsuccessful High Court legal challenge by cycling campaigners who claimed the protected lane’s removal was “premature”.
The belated decision to introduce advisory lanes on the congested route was dismissed as “embarrassing” by local cyclists, while broadcaster and cycling advocate Jeremy Vine wrote on social media that the council “can shove this up their exhaust pipe”.
However, this week the controversial council has said that the advisory lanes on Kensington High Street have offered a “good introduction” for similar schemes in the borough, due to the observation that they have had “very little impact on traffic”.
“This new painted cycle lane allows space for everyone who uses our roads as we aim to become a greener, safer, and fairer borough,” Conservative councillor Cem Kemahli, the borough’s lead member for planning and the public realm, said.
“We’ve had a good introduction on Kensington High Street with a similar scheme, where there has been very little impact on traffic.
“As with any works, there may be some minor disruption while we get the paint on the ground, but the design has been created to strike the right balance between making room for cyclists and keeping Fulham Road moving.”
Unsurprisingly, the extension of the non-segregated infrastructure to Fulham Road has been criticised by the London Cycling Campaign, who have argued – despite the council’s claims – that a “dotted line in paint” will do little to encourage people to take up cycling in the area or address the “terrible rate” of casualties on the roads, with seven cyclists killed this year in London alone.
“The advisory cycle lanes on Fulham Road are a step in the right direction, but on an A-road with such a high volume of motor traffic, a dotted line in paint is nowhere near adequate to keep people cycling safe or to encourage new people to start cycling,” the group’s spokesperson told the Evening Standard.
“We want to see these lanes upgraded as soon as possible with physical protection, such as bollards or wands.
“Kensington and Chelsea Council has a long way to go to tackle the terrible rate of cycling casualties on their roads, the worst in inner London, so in our view this work can’t start soon enough.”
London Cycling Campaign’s call for safer cycling infrastructure in Kensington and Chelsea comes just under three years since the group described the decision to scrap the segregated infrastructure on Kensington High Street in late 2020 as “shameful, callous, and retrograde”.
Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also said to have been “ballistic” over the lane’s removal, which sparked a series of protests by local cyclists, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged the council to reinstate it after an independent survey found that almost twice as many people who live in the borough supported having the protected cycle lane than those opposed to it.
In March this year, the council won a protracted High Court case, brought by campaigners who claimed the lane’s removal had been “premature”, while in May RBKC insisted it “did not manipulate data” after cycling activists accused it of ignoring advice in order to controversially shelve the scheme.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.