, , ,

The politician behind the first “Mini Holland” safer cycle scheme in London today urged other boroughs to “pull your finger out” and follow suit.

Waltham Forest council’s cabinet unanimously approved plans to block roads in Walthamstow’s “village” heritage area to deter rat-running motorists and encourage walking and cycling.

Concern is mounting at City Hall that a lack of political will could see Kingston and Enfield councils abandon plans to implement similar “Dutch-style” measures after each won £30 million in funding from Transport for London to help deliver Boris Johnson’s “cycling revolution” in the suburbs. Eighteen boroughs had bid for the cash, with just three winners.

After Waltham Forest gave the go-ahead to its scheme on Tuesday, Clyde Loakes, the Labour council’s deputy leader, told me his message to the other boroughs was: “Pull your finger out. What are you waiting for? You bid for the money. Now deliver.”

Waltham Forest agreed to begin to implement permanent changes to roads from next week after a two-week trial last September resulted in 5,000 fewer vehicle movements in the area. Roadworks are due to be completed by July. The cost of the scheme is £749,000.

The trial closures, which included a series of banned turns that made it near-impossible for traffic to cut through residential areas, divided the community and caused long tailbacks on main roads including Lea Bridge Road and Hoe Street.

A council consultation found 44 per cent of residents responding backed the closures and traffic management measures, while 41 per cent were opposed. But 74 per cent said they wanted a safer environment, with 13 per cent opposed.

For previous coverage of the Mini Holland scheme, see here: https://rosslydall.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/4500-homes-to-be-asked-if-walthamstows-mini-holland-cycle-scheme-should-be-permanent/

See here for a video of rat-running traffic in Orford Road the day after the trial scheme ended:

Mr Loakes said: “We need to remember why we wanted to do this. We wanted to be bold and ambitious.

“Just because cycling isn’t the number one form of getting around the place in this borough, in this country, in this great city, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to redress that and make things better for the future.”

Council leader Chris Robbins said: “This administration is not only fully supportive of this scheme, but will be actively promoting it and promoting it with other boroughs and extending it where we can in future years. That will create the quality of life that we consider our residents deserve.”

He added:  “I’m a regular car user. I hardly know what a bike looks like. It’s not about car v bike or car v pedestrian. It’s about getting that balance right, and ensuring children can grow up safely and families can get out their front door.”

Similar schemes will now be introduced elsewhere in the borough and proposals will continue to build a largely-segregated cycle superhighway on Lea Bridge Road.