Cycle lane used by one cyclist an hour is Harrow’s busiest, council admits

The council behind an underused cycle lane exposed last week by the Sunday Telegraph has admitted that its other two cycle lanes are even quieter.

New figures from Harrow council show that Honeypot Lane, graced by just seven cyclists in six hours on November 20, is busier than the Sheepcote Road and Uxbridge Road facilities.

Honeypot Lane was used by 98 cyclists on a typical day in October, according to the council’s numbers, while Sheepcote Road attracted a daily average of 77 cyclists, a rise of 12 compared to June.

However, cyclist numbers on Uxbridge Road have actually declined since its cycle lane was introduced with 61 cyclists using the lane on average in October, down from 67 in June.

The low-traffic neighbourhood in Headstone Drive has also been subject to strong criticism, with council figures showing weekday queues have risen by 108 per cent.

It comes after the Labour-controlled council narrowly opted to retain its cycle lanes plus low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and "pedestrian space measures" during a fraught meeting held virtually on Thursday.

Representatives voted by 33 to 26 to defeat a motion brought by Cllr Paul Osborn’s Conservatives group that called for an end to the "Streetspace" schemes – which are funded by £683,000 of Transport for London cash – in the borough.

Cllr Osborn told his Labour counterparts “when you’re in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging”, before urging them to vote to “tear down these barriers”.

Cycle lanes Harrow

“I’m disappointed for the residents,” he told The Telegraph after the meeting. “I think the evidence is overwhelming that it just isn’t working, and the council are just refusing to listen.

“The schemes are badly designed and have been taken over by people who have had an agenda to do this for a number of years. Encouraging to get healthy has been subverted by activist groups.”

Cllr Varsha Parmar, Harrow’s environment portfolio holder, cited social distancing rules and the "climate emergency" in defence of the LTNs and cycle lanes she oversees.

“Your own transport secretary has actually endorsed the low traffic neighbourhoods and other ‘safe street’ initiatives,” she told Tory councillors, referring to the £2 billion allocated by Grant Shapps to encourage walking, running and cycling.

While Cllr Parmar promised she would eventually implement “some changes in due course”, she did not specify what these would be, and responded to a petition by saying “it is important to listen to all views, not just the loudest.”

Cllr Marilyn Ashton said that in 21 years as a councillor she had “never seen so many unhappy” over a local issue, while Conservative representative Arjana Patel claimed Labour was “out of touch”.

“This is not free money, this is hard-earned taxpayers’ money and residents are paying for it,” Cllr Patel told The Telegraph. “Our Government has given them so much, but this incompetent council wastes money.”

The mental health of those living near cycle lanes was suffering, the meeting heard, with one resident concerned he could lose his job because of his delayed journey to work.

The Streetspace schemes will continue to be reviewed on a month-by-month basis amid ongoing frustration and petitions from residents.

Documents produced by the council last month and seen by this newspaper said the authority’s own feedback portal “indicates a continuing level of unpopularity amongst the community towards these schemes”.

They cited a negative impact on tradesmen and visitors accessing restricted streets, and an increase in the time taken to drop off and pick up students by car.

A spokesman for Harrow Council said: "All feedback is considered as part of the monthly review process. Next week we will be publishing the figures used as part of the October monthly review. Ward councillors have been, and will continue to be, briefed throughout the process and their views taken into consideration as part of the review process."

Cllr Varsha Parmar, Environment Portfolio holder said: “LTNs have a place in Harrow and we are committed to creating schemes that work for our residents. We will continue to engage about the future scope of the LTNs ensuring residents’ views are listened to as part of the decision-making process.”

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