Kensington High Street temporary cycle lane to be removed

Sunday 29 November 2020

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A temporary cycle lane on Kensington High Street will be removed after businesses and residents expressed concerns that the experimental scheme was not working.

Kensington Business Forum and Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce both wrote to the Council to ask that the temporary lane be removed in time for Christmas shoppers to visit the High Street. Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea also raised concerns about the impact on disabled people visiting the High Street.

The Council has listened to this feedback and the lane will begin to be removed from 2 December, as the second national lockdown lifts. Work will take place overnight to minimise disruption and is expected to take around five nights, depending on weather.

The lane was introduced to support residents and commuters to travel to and through the High Street, whilst public transport operates at a lower capacity. The lane was also an experiment to see if local shoppers would be tempted to the High Street with a cycle lane in place.

Local businesses have raised concerns that as lockdown lifts, congestion could increase to pre-lockdown levels, hindering potential customers from reaching their businesses.

Cllr Johnny Thalassites, Lead Member for Transport, said:

“The cycle lane was a trial scheme to help those hopping on bikes during lockdowns and encourage shoppers to the High Street. Businesses and residents have told us loud and clear that they believe the experiment has not worked. We are listening.

“By removing the temporary lanes as lockdown lifts, we hope to help get the High Street moving again and give our local economy the best possible chance of a good December.”

Tom Frost, Chair of Kensington Business Forum, said:

 “We support any project which helps our business community and commend the Council’s efforts to design and implement the temporary cycle lanes so quickly under a government directive.

 “The Kensington Business Forum acted as a conduit for local businesses to express their feedback on the temporary lane, with the majority of local businesses opposed the current temporary lane. Local Businesses and Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce wrote to the council to ask that the temporary cycle lane be removed in time for Christmas shoppers to visit the High Street. Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea also raised concerns about the impact on disabled people visiting the High Street.”

Michael Stone, Chairman of Kensington & Chelsea Chamber of Trade & Commerce, said:

“The cycle lane in its current form is detrimental to business on Kensington High Street and beyond, and we support its removal. The pre-Christmas trading period is vital to many businesses and I encourage everyone to stay safe, shop locally, and support your local business community.”

Jamie Renton, Chief Executive of Action Disability Kensington & Chelsea, said: 

“We have around 1000 disabled members who are experts by experience, so it’s good to see the Council listening to our experiences and removing the temporary cycle lanes on Kensington High Street. We were worried about fewer safe places for cars to drop off disabled passengers and confusing layout changes, especially for visually impaired people. We are keen to support cycling and walking but we need to make sure the High Street is accessible for everyone.” 

The Council has already introduced a number of measures to protect lives and livelihoods during the pandemic. A 20mph speed limit across the borough is being introduced, seven new traffic-free school streets have helped children walk, scoot and cycle safely to school and marketgoers in Portobello Road have been enjoying traffic-free streets there on market days.