Bike-lane backlash prompts 'High Traffic Neighbourhood' Plan

HTN signage
An artist’s impression of new HTN signage
A scheme to ban bikes and pedestrians and make more space for cars? It’s the inevitable consequence of opposition to bike lanes

Just two weeks after the shock decision by Kensington & Chelsea council to permanently remove a cycle lane, Cycling UK has obtained copies of an official document detailing plans for new "High Traffic Neighbourhoods" to be designated in towns and cities across the country, giving cars total priority over other road users. The HTN scheme is believed to be a reaction to complaints in the media about pop-up traffic lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), which aim to encourage cycling and walking by taking back space from motor vehicles.

The leaked proposals include:

•    Removal of footways and grass verges to allow an extra lane of traffic on residential roads

•    At least 30% of urban parkland to be paved to increase parking provision

•    Abolition of 20mph speed limits; 30mph limit to be “reviewed"

•    Fines for cyclists in HTNs - and for pedestrians unless they can demonstrate that they are on the way to or from a parked vehicle

Active travel campaigners greeted the news with dismay, but see it as an inevitable consequence of local authorities’ failure to defend cycling and walking measures against a vocal minority of opponents.

As Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, wrote recently: “If you live on a street where motor traffic has increased steadily over the years and you’re concerned about your kids cycling to school or just playing out, it’s unlikely you were ever asked what you thought about high traffic neighbourhoods. Paradoxically, as soon as anyone tries to reverse this and create a more liveable neighbourhood, with less motor traffic on residential streets, people are outraged they weren’t fully consulted.”

I think it’s great that I’ll no longer have to watch cyclists looking smug as they ride past while I’m sitting in traffic

Al Prilsgrap, HTN supporter

In contrast, Al Prilsgrap, who lives in one of the proposed HTNs and owns three cars, welcomed the news. “I think it’s great that I’ll no longer have to watch cyclists looking smug as they ride past while I’m sitting in traffic,” he said. “It’s a shame the trees on the pavement will have to go, and we’ll have to drive across town to take the kids to a playground once they put the new car park in, but it’s a small price to pay for reclaiming the roads for cars. We like to drive out into the countryside to get some fresh air, anyway.”

Arguments that cycle lanes and HTNs increase congestion have surfaced with increasing regularity recently, even though the facts show that not only do cycle lanes move more people in less space, but they are supported by a majority of the population.

A Cycling UK spokesperson commented: “The statistics don’t lie, yet some people see High Traffic Neighbourhoods as the answer to traffic congestion. Who are they trying to fool?”


Update: Please note the publication date of this article!