Angry riders have beaten up cycling activists who protested today against the removal of the hated Covid bike lanes from a shopping street in West London after the council decided to destroy the "catastrophic" program.
City councils said the lanes on Kensington High Street would be removed tomorrow after a major backlash. Actor and local resident Nigel Havers said they would wreak havoc on an already congested route.
The U-turn has been welcomed by Tory politicians, including Shaun Bailey, who is running for Mayor of London, and MP Felicity Buchan after hundreds signed a petition against the bollards and beat up city councilors for wasting £ 300,000 in public money.
Today, dozens of pro-cycling demonstrators from across London took part in a “festive joyride” that spread across lanes used by riders.
But Roger Lawson, London spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers, condemned the protest.
"We fully support the removal of this bicycle lane," he told MailOnline. “It has clearly created additional congestion and local people have objected to it.
“Cycling is and still is a minority interest. You don't solve traffic jams by adding bike lanes like this one. You make it worse. & # 39;
Today dozens of pro-cycling demonstrators from all over London cycled down High Street Kensington to protest the removal of the route
The Kensington and Chelsea Council said the lanes would be removed by tomorrow following a major backlash from local residents (today's protest is shown).
The High Street Kensington program, launched in September, saw the local council receive £ 313,000 in transportation for the London Streetspace Fund
Cyclists for today's protest included Steven Edwards, 60, a guitar teacher and Extinction Rebellion activist from Camden, north London.
He told MailOnline: “I'm here to protest the crazy ripping out of this cycle path.
“It needs to be expanded and expanded – I can't think of anything worse than removing it. Cycling is beneficial in every way. However, there are big opponents, including taxi drivers. & # 39;
David Lincoln, 53, a community nurse from Islington, called for similar routes to be installed on every major street in the capital.
"Cyclists are a bit out of group so they are hostile," he said. "But we're just people trying to get from A to B. I would like to see these cycle paths preserved on all major roads."
Other activists accused the Kensington and Chelsea council of failing to consult them before it was announced that the plastic bollards would be torn up.
But Mr Lawson pointed out that local residents did not have a chance to voice their opposition to the lanes when they were quickly installed in September.
Car groups and the London Cab Drivers Club have both attacked the lanes to increase congestion and reduce the number of areas where taxis can pick up customers.
Their removal has been hailed as a spur to activists across the country fighting to remove bollards installed by councils during the first few months of the Covid pandemic.
The London spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers pointed out that during their rapid installation in September, residents were not given an opportunity to express their opposition to the lanes. Today's protest is shown
Steven Edwards, 60, guitar teacher and Extinction Rebellion activist from Camden, north London, told MailOnline, "I'm here to protest the crazy ripping out of this bike lane."
David Lincoln, 53, (left), an Islington community nurse who attended today's protest for cycling, called for lanes to be installed on every major road in the capital. Ilyan Kovatchev (right), a 54-year-old advisor from South Kensington, accused the council of being an "anti-cyclist".
The High Street Kensington program, launched in September, saw the local council receive £ 313,000 in transportation for the London Streetspace Fund.
Chariots Of Fire actor Nigel Havers, who is based in Kensington, said after the council's U-turn, “This is a fantastic result that will save lives as ambulances have not been able to get through to reach patients in urgent need.
"It will also reduce all of the nasty pollution from cars that are stuck in terrible traffic jams for hours." I now hope that other councils will see sense and do the same. Everyone I speak to is angry about these bike lanes. "
Politicians have also criticized the program. Local Tory MP Felicity Buchan and London Congregation member Tony Devenish both said they hadn't worked and instead added to the congestion.
Zack Polanski, 38, Green Party candidate for West Central London, said: “It is important that everyone can cycle safely. We need to reduce vehicle traffic quickly because we are living in a climate emergency. & # 39;
The Kensington Chambers of Commerce described the bollards as "harmful to local businesses" while Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea expressed concerns that taxis and cars could not safely drop passengers on the sidewalks.
Participants in today's protest against cycling included Roy Turner, 59, a PR consultant from Finsbury Park.
He said, “I'm not a cyclist, I'm a person who uses a bicycle. I am also a driver. Cycle paths are all about freedom of choice in order to be able to travel around safely using the most practical means of transport. & # 39;
Zack Polanski, 38, Green Party candidate for West Central London, said: “It is important that everyone can cycle safely. We need to reduce vehicle traffic quickly because we are living in a climate emergency.
"We need to make sure we clean our toxic air and that people can ride bikes without worrying about going home at night."
Another activist, who asked not to be named, said: “Cars dehumanize people, they make people angry and aggressive. Plus, city driving is a completely wrong economy. It's so slow Cycling is the only option. & # 39;
Ms. Buchan, MP for Kensington, and Greater London Authority member Mr. Devenish said in a joint statement: “TfL has always put tremendous pressure on RBKC to implement a cycle path program and has threatened to take over Borough Roads. It is now clear that TfL has grossly miscalculated the effects of such systems, which require careful analysis.
& # 39; We wholeheartedly encourage RBKC to consider expanding their hugely successful Quietways program and we note the success of other initiatives like Portobello Road. Everything that is done to promote active travel must be safe, fair and balanced for all road users, including the elderly, children and the disabled.
& # 39; We want the bike lane to remain in place until the current lockdown ends on December 2nd.
“However, we believe that once we end the lockdown, this system needs to be lifted as soon as possible so that businesses along the high street can have a period of free business in the run-up to the Christmas season and follow the very real-life difficulties they face during the coronavirus restrictions.
"Kensington High Street is just not the place and we must act in the interests of our constituents."
The streets had sparked a wave of opposition. Local Tory MP Felicity Buchan and London Congregation member Tony Devenish both said they hadn't worked and instead increased the congestion. Today's protest is shown
The council's recent U-turn has been hailed as an upswing for activists across the country struggling to remove council-installed bike lanes in the early months of the Covid pandemic. A worker is shown dismantling bollards in Worthing
Commenting on the decision, Cllr Johnny Thalassites, Lead Member for Transport, said, “The bike path was a testing program to help those who get on bikes during the lockdown and encourage shoppers to move on to the high street. Businesses and local residents have told us loudly and clearly that they believe the experiment did not work. We are listening.
"By removing the temporary lockdown lifts, we hope to get the High Street moving again and give our local economy the best possible chance of a good December."
Nigel Havers said the "dreaded new bike lanes" had wreaked havoc in the Kensington area
Tom Frost, Chair of the Kensington Business Forum, said, “We support any project that helps our business community and we commend the council's efforts to quickly design and implement the temporary bike lanes in accordance with government policy.
& # 39; Like many others, we hoped the initiative would be a success. Unfortunately, it hasn't helped our high street companies attract customers at a time that is important to them. So it is good news that the lanes are being removed.
"As a community, we need to protect our local business owners, and the temporary bike lanes have provided us with valuable information for potential future programs."
Michael Stone, Chairman of the Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and Commerce, said, “The bike path as it is now is having a negative impact on business on Kensington High Street and beyond, and we are helping to remove it.
"The pre-Christmas trading period is critical for many businesses. I encourage everyone to stay safe, shop locally, and support your local business community."
While Jamie Renton, General Manager of Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea said, “We have around 1,000 disabled members who are experts by experience. So it's good to see the council hear our experience and remove the temporary bike lanes on Kensington High Street.
& # 39; We were concerned about less safe places for cars to drop off disabled passengers and confusing layout changes, especially for the visually impaired. We'd like to support cycling and walking, but we need to make sure the high street is accessible to everyone. & # 39;
Earlier this month officials in West Sussex decided to remove the bike lanes criticized for congestion in Crawley, East Grinstead, Horsham, Shoreham and Worthing.
The figures showed that the number of cyclists in the city fell sharply after the initiative was launched in September.
MP Felicity Buchan (left) and Tony Devenish said the program did not work and requested that the lanes be removed
Cyclists queuing in the street during today's protest on Kensington High Street, a busy route through a popular shopping district
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