Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Open Response to Notting Hill Gate redevelopment consultation

Kensington and Chelsea are currently consulting on a redevelopment of Notting Hill Gate. The consultation itself is available here

I would urge everyone to respond to this consultation individually and let the council know this is the perfect opportunity to develop ground-breaking improvements in cycling and walking in the area.

My open response:
Notting Hill Gate is currently a major barrier for cycling in the borough, and London as a whole. The entire junction is horrible; an essentially 1970s design that encourages large volumes of traffic motor to move through the area at dangerously high speeds, leading to pedestrian and cycling fatalities and actively suppressed rates of walking and cycling. 
Visitors to the area can still see a white bike with flowers in memory of Eilidh Cairns who was tragically and wholly unnecessarily killed in Notting Hill Gate by a lorry driver in 2009. It is right that this 'ghost bike' remains near the spot where she was killed, both in memory to Eilidh and to remind the Council that something desperately needs to be done to prevent more wholly avoidable deaths occurring here.

Additionally, the entire area has illegal levels of air pollution and nitrogen dioxide levels that rival Beijing. In fact, a specific stretch of Notting Hill Gate is one of the most polluted streets in London.

The easiest way to solve both these problems is to radically redesign the entire area to provide safe, segregated cycle routes through Notting Hill including bus stop by-passes for cycling. When this has been done in New York it has led to an over 50% rise in local spending, as areas were transformed into 'people places', rather than motor traffic hell. Notting Hill Gate would also benefit from more, and easier pedestrian crossings (including zebra crossings), and a 20 mph limit.

The Westway is less than a mile north and provides a quick, direct route for motor traffic into Central London. There is no reason, therefore, why Notting Hill Gate should not be re-thought and re-designed as an area that prioritised cyclists and pedestrians (if only because these people don't use vehicles that emit illegal levels of air pollution which lowers everyone in the area's life expectancy.

One of the council's core aims is to encourage alternative transport to private car use, such as cycling and walking. The council would be ignoring and actively refuting its core aims if it did not, therefore, use this opportunity to transform Notting Hill Gate into somewhere where walking and cycling is actively encouraged, rather than discouraged, as it is by the current street layout.

Notting Hill Gate. Can you see anywhere safe to cycle through here? Can you see anywhere safe to cross the road as a pedestrian? This junction needs to be completely redesigned with wide segregated cycle lanes, bus stop by-passes for cycling, and more pedestrian crossings.