See you in court! says objector to new experimental cycle lane

Islington Council threateaned with legal action over ‘rushed’ changes to roads

Friday, 9th October 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Cycle lane in Liverpool Road

The cycle lane in Liverpool Road

A PLANNING consultant is threatening to take the council to court alleging that it is treating residents “with contempt” after a cycle scheme was “rushed through without consultation”.

Erik Pegano has instructed a legal team to serve a pre-action protocol letter to Islington Council after cycle lanes with bollards were erected outside his home in Liverpool Road last month.

If Mr Pegano, who founded the urban design and planning consultancy firm Landform, is successful in his legal challenge then it could set a precedent for more residents frustrated with the council’s “People Friendly Streets” (PFS) policy to take action.

Both Islington and Transport for London are using experimental traffic orders (ETOs) to redraw the borough’s roadmap with the aim of encouraging people to walk and cycle rather than use cars.

But Mr Pegano told the Tribune: “I am a cyclist. I have cycled around London for 30 years. This is not about cars vs bikes, this is about the failure of the council to do their job properly. Councillors are treating their residents with contempt.”

By using ETOs, Islington is allowed to put in changes to the roads and ask feedback while they are in place.

Mr Pegano said: “We got a flyer on Thursday and by Monday they were implementing the cycleway. This is has been rushed through without any consultation.”

A protest against the ‘People Friendly Streets’ scheme

It is the way the council is using ETOs that Mr Pegano is looking to challenge in the High Court through a judicial review.

Work began last week on the council’s fifth PFS, also known as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, in Amwell.

This comes after Highbury West, Highbury Fields and St Mary’s Church were named as future areas where bollards and cameras would be set up to stop drivers using residential streets to avoid busy main roads – known as rat-running.

The announcement came at a scrutiny of the PFS programme by the Town Hall’s environment and transport committee on Tuesday.

Almost weekly demonstrations against the schemes have been held since they were first implemented more than two months ago.

Many are furious with the changes, saying it has left them stranded in long queues on packed main roads adding to pollution from idling cars instead of decreasing it as the council aims to do.

But Islington says if more people walk or cycle then the borough’s air will be cleaner.

And there are also enthusiastic supporters of the council’s actions with one group in St Peter’s ward holding a celebration on Saturday.

There was also near unanimous praise in the Town Hall meeting on Tuesday from the councillors looking at how the plans are working.

Committee chairman cllr David Poyser said: “We all know essentially it [PFS] is a good thing.”

In July, central government announced a £2billion travel plan including new walking and cycling safety measures.

Councils were invited to apply for a share of the funds for their local schemes, and Islington was awarded £100,000.

The funding comes with strict conditions though. The government’s guidance says that any schemes “which do not make meaningful change to the status quo on the road, will not be funded”.

Changes in Amwell will involve the implementation of four traffic filters, in Great Percy Street, the northern and southern sides of Lloyd Square, and in Margery Street.

Responding to Mr Pegano’s claims, the council’s environment chief Labour councillor, Rowena Champion, said: “This innovative new cycle route will make it easier for local people to cycle and walk around Islington, enabling residents and visitors to enjoy our borough in a way that reduces unnecessary car journeys, pollution, and congestion.”

She added: “Local ­people know their streets better than anyone, and we’re listening to their feedback.

“That is why the route is being implemented as an 18-month trial, giving local people the opportunity to have their say on whether it should remain in place permanently.”

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