Mystery mounts on Walker’s bike lane controversy

After safety concerns were raised, an independent report re-assures adequacy of Welbeck Road cycle lanes. This emerges after the scheme has been shelved for an altogether different reason: cycle lanes would compromise vehicle flow.

In December 2012 Walker was offered significant external funding to improve Welbeck Road environment for school children, residents walking and cycling. The £180,000 were sadly lost due to warring local councillors. (Reported in Chronicle here). Following council protocol, the scheme was referred to an appeal’s hearing where the decision was made to check over the cycle safety of the scheme. The independent safety audit, dating April 2013 (which was only recently supplied to NewCycling), suggests minor improvements and raises no major or substantial safety concerns.

So it’s surprising when the scheme was later on shelved, an entirely different reason was given: cycle lanes holding up vehicle traffic flow. (Comment including the council report here)

Katja Leyendecker says “We are totally gobsmacked by this. One day the council says it wants to improve the lot for cycling and when they get the chance, like they had on Welbeck Road, they don’t do it. We – together with other organisations – supported the scheme. We do not do that lightly as we want to see a high standard of bike infrastructure built. That means having a radical new outlook. This can easily clash with inferior and sometimes downright dangerous designs council uses, like Fenham Hall Drive.

“I suspect Welbeck Road was a localised matter. These warring councillors behaved particularly unpleasantly and presented quite an intimidating appearance at the hearing. But thankfully the overall meeting ended positively. I think it’s not a bad idea to ask for an independent safety audit – after all, everyone is really new to the idea and practice of cycling infrastructure and its proper design.

“Cycling provision on Welbeck Road would be good as it’s right in heart of ‘Walker village’. Also a ward where people are less well off, more people are without a car and logically good alternative provision is important. Walker has one of the shortest life expectancies in the city, which is health-related. And fears over safety were allayed but we will now not see the cycle lanes for the spurious reason of ‘traffic flow’. Why the local councillors reject the prospect of cycle space on Welbeck Road is a total mystery. The line of argument just does not add up. It would be good to understand what happened exactly, so we can avoid this in the future.”
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Welbeck Road support here
Fenham Hall Drive objection here