Camden Council has given the go ahead to make permanent additional contraflow cycling schemes in Fitzrovia streets, but has been unable to deliver a section of the route due to continued breaches of controlled parking.
The contraflow schemes are at Bedford Avenue, Grafton Way, Huntley Street, Tottenham Street, Warren Street and Windmill Street.
Five of the schemes were originally implemented as 18-month trials on 23 November 2020, under an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO), and Huntley Street was implemented as an 18-month trial on 3 December 2020 under a separate ETO.
The schemes are designed to provide contraflow cycling facilities on roads that are one-way for motor vehicles, and are “part of the Council’s COVID-19 response to enable safe travel in Camden”, states a council report published on 11 May.
The idea is to make it easier to travel around the neighbourhood by pedal cycle and avoid having to take a circuitous route using the numerous one-way streets and roads busy with motor vehicles.
However, only part of Huntley Street is included in the scheme due a problem with illegal motor vehicle parking preventing safe access.
“Initially the entire southern section, between University Street and Chenies Street, was considered for a cycle permeability intervention,” states the report.
“However, the section between Torrington Place and University Street is the narrowest section of the corridor. The University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre is also located on this section of Huntley Street, and is a key destination in the area, with a large number of visitors and pick-up and drop-offs using Patient Transport Service (PTS) ambulances, which are wider than a standard car, reducing the effective width of the carriageway.
“During site visits the level of parking along this section was observed to be high, with several vehicles illegally parked on single yellow lines and it is unlikely that this will improve under the proposed scheme,” states the report.
Following a review “officers decided to exclude the section of Huntley Street between University Street and Torrington Place from the scheme, as it was considered too narrow and as a result unsafe for cyclists,” states the report.
Instead, only the short section between Torrington Place and Chenies Street will have a contraflow.
The problem of illegal parking and engine idling outside the hospitals in Huntley Street has long been a bugbear of local residents and the nuisance has frequently been brought to Camden’s attention, including in the pre-planning consultation on the development of the hospital sites.
Fitzrovia News also understands that the safe operation of the contraflow in Bedford Avenue may be hampered by lorries serving a major construction site at 247 Tottenham Court Road.
The decision also approves secure cycle parking, improvements to a number of junctions, and also contraflows outside of Fitzrovia at College Place and Richbell Street.
An equalities impact assessment on the cycling contraflows concluded:
“It is not considered that the schemes would discriminate unlawfully against people with protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010. The proposals are in line with objectives set out in the Camden Transport Strategy. These objectives seek to transform our streets to enable an increase in walking and cycling.”
Transport officers said that consultation responses showed that the “majority of respondents are supportive of the schemes”, states the report.