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Regent's Park anti-cycle superhighway protest

A proposed cycle superhighway through Regent’s Park is at risk of being the first in London to be axed after massive opposition from residents.

Cycling campaigners fear a “few vocal NIMBYs” will scupper plans to remove the notorious Swiss Cottage gyratory and limit the estimated 5,000 cars a day that use Regent’s Park as a short-cut.

A number of protesters organised the above photoshoot – to which the Evening Standard was invited yesterday, but which it played no part in organising – at 930am today. (Picture by Jeremy Selwyn)

About 150 cyclists staged a pro-superhighway demonstration in the park last Friday night. But more than 3,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Transport for London to abandon the “catastrophically ill-planned scheme”.

People opposed to cycle superhighway 11 accuse TfL of failing to take into account the traffic disruption that will also be caused by construction of the HS2 high-speed rail line.

They believe CS11, which would run between Swiss Cottage and Oxford Circus via non-segregated paths on the Outer Circle of Regent’s Park, would cause gridlock on the A41 Finchley Road and encourage traffic to divert through residential areas. Four of the seven park gates would be closed, except from 11am to 3pm. Through traffic would be banned from Avenue Road.

However TfL modelling predicts average journey times from Hendon Way to Baker Street in the morning rush hour would be eight to 10 minutes quicker, and one to two minutes quicker in the evening. Only east-west journeys from Chalk Farm to Kilburn would be up to seven minutes longer.

Peter Hartley, of Westminster Living Streets, said: “There’s been a lot of misinformation and scaremongering about CS11. We don’t want people to be scared by a few vocal NIMBYs.”

Angela Hobsbaum, of Camden Cycling Campaign, said she would be ”absolutely horrified” if the £15.5 million scheme was abandoned. “We can’t go on allowing cars to rule the roads.”

Hundreds of residents have attended public meetings to opposed CS11, and another is being held tomorrow night [7pm, St Stephen’s church] in Hampstead. TfL’s consultation closes on Sunday [Mar 20]. It will be for the next Mayor to decide whether to proceed.

Solicitor Jessica Learmond-Criqui, one of the campaign leaders, said: “This scheme is much wider than it needs to be in order to achieve safer routes for cyclists.

“Finchley Road is the artery into London for a lot of commercial vehicles from the M1. It’s a bit like a cold: If Finchley Road sneezes, London catches a cold.”

Daniel Howard, who set up the online petition, said: “We are not against cycling. Cycling should be made safer. It’s the way they have done it. It’s going to cause catastrophic congestion to an already fragile road network.”

Andrew Gilligan, Boris Johnson’s cycling commissioner, said: “A lot of misinformation is being circulated about this scheme to stoke up people’s fears. Very little of what’s being said about it is true, and it’s telling that the only way the opponents can fight this is to misrepresent it.”

[*UPDATE March 16: I have been asked by Daniel Howard to make clear that not all of those pictured above are car drivers, and that opponents include pedestrians and cyclists.]