The Independent London Newspaper
26th April 2019

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: Great consultation on cycle lane, now for the tricky part

    The new road layout at Torrington Place and Tavistock Place

    The new road layout at Torrington Place and Tavistock Place

    Published: 10 November, 2016

    HOW will the results of the Bloomsbury cycling lane consultation be interpreted by officials in the Town Hall? 

    The council this week released basic information about the responses to its Tavistock Place trial, revealing it to be the biggest ever in Camden’s planning history. 

    This surge in democratic engagement should be welcomed but it must also be properly scrutinised by councillors on the planning committee.

    A rough breakdown shows that more than 13,000 people from outside Camden have pitched in with their opinions about the new road layout.

    Of these, just under 80 per cent are in favour of keeping the cycle lane and one-way traffic system.

    Should the views of non-Camden respondents carry the same weight residents of the borough? Many may live in faraway corners of the capital. Some have never and will never use the cycle lane in question. 

    The council says that, of the Camden residents to respond, views are fairly evenly split. There will be a large group of people who live in the area who are not cyclists but are in favour of better protection for them. This sentiment will no doubt have been amplified by the recent deaths of two cyclists. 

    The deaths of mainly young women under the wheels of HGVs has been a dark chapter that demands a strong and effective response. 

    But the council, which is yet to comprehensively analyse the public feedback, faces a tricky task in balancing public opinion with the concerns of its residents.

    Dr Williams’ life lines

    DR Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, gave a talk to a packed St Peter’s Church in Belsize Park about the heroic pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was murdered by the Nazis.

    But in response to questions, Dr Williams was soon drawn into life in Britain today – and the results of living in a divided society.

    When you live in a divided society who do you listen to, asked a questioner?

    Dr Williams came succinctly to the point – to those at the sharp end of life.

    To those who need food banks. To those on benefits. To the homeless.

    Never an ecclesiast to shirk controversy, Dr Williams praised the new film by Ken Loach, I, Daniel Blake, as “prophetic”.

    While critics outrageously condemned the film as “misery porn” and it made Ian Duncan Smith apoplectic, this divided society of ours threatens to break asunder.