Published: 5 January, 2017
By DAN CARRIER
A NEW route for cyclists between Camden Town and Regent’s Park is at the centre of a debate over whether it will improve road safety. The Town Hall hopes to install new lanes in Delancey Street, giving cyclists their own protected space.
But people living along the route say the lanes – which will head in both directions along Delancey Street – could be dangerous for cyclists and create more pollution by causing traffic to clog up.
With work on the new HS2 rail link due at the top end of Delancey Street, changes to the road layout could have a devastating effect on air quality, campaigners say. It is predicted that over 10 years there could be as many as an extra 2,000 vehicles using the route on a daily basis due to HS2.
Catherine Colley, of Delancey Street Residents’ Association, has called on the council to think again.
“We feel it will create a route that is unsafe for cyclists in a number of ways,” she said. “Delancey Street is on a slight slope and it is curved. Cyclists will pick up speed on a stretch where there will be junctions for them to cross, with drivers naturally looking in the opposite direction as they seek to pull out into the road.”
She added that the design of the lanes means bus passengers will have to cross them to reach the pavement, creating a further possible accident blackspot.
Her association fears that reducing the road to a single lane will lead to added congestion and more pollution.
“The C2 and 274 buses come every three minutes and will have to stop to drop off passengers without being able to pull over,” Mrs Colley said. “This will lead to traffic backing up.”
Albert Street Residents’ Association’s Mary Burd said there were good alternatives to using Delancey Street for two-way traffic.
“You could have one going in the right direction on Delancey Street, then use quieter routes such as Mornington Terrace and Mornington Street for eastbound cyclists, she said. “This seems a good alternative.”
Town Hall environment chief Councillor Phil Jones insisted the route was the safest available. Some of the issues raised by residents were being discussed in greater detail, he said.
“This is extremely important safe cycling infrastructure as it will provide the only east-west route across the Camden Town gyratory and link the busy Royal College Street cycle lanes to Regent’s Park,” he added.
“Other suggested routes just don’t come up to scratch as they would be dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians or cause enormous disruption. This has been repeatedly explained to the residents’ association in many meetings and emails.”
He added that the project, agreed last year, had the backing of a “massive majority” of residents.
“It will be funded by Transport for London as part of a network of key routes in inner London,” he said. “We are currently working through some issues to do with buses and other points raised by residents.”
Cllr Jones said safer cycle routes could not be delayed when there were so many unknown factors regarding HS2.
He added: “HS2 needs to be factored in, but this is often used as an excuse by people who don’t want to change the way our streets are organised. The truth is that detailed modelling of HS2 impact can’t be done when we don’t even know what will be built at Euston. And the presence of additional HGVs on our roads actually makes the necessity of safe cycling routes all the greater.
“If we really want to make a difference on issues like air pollution and road safety then it’s essential that we build safe walking and cycling routes and give up the old-fashioned mindset that says car domination is the best way to organise our streets.”