Highbury Corner in Islington is one of the busiest interchanges in the whole of the UK (never mind just London) and is being redeveloped to encourage more cycling past the train and Tube station. There has been some opposition to the proposals, which cyclists have responded to vigorously…
Let’s look at some of the discussion in the local newspapers’ letters pages.
In support of the redevelopment
John Ackers of Highbury Grove, N5 complained that cycling through Highbury Corner is ‘terrifying’. He explained that, “In 2006, 1,895 other cyclists passed Highbury and Islington tube station every day and in 2016 that number rose to 3,301. However, the number of cars remained roughly the same.”
Ackers went onto say, “Yes, congestion will probably be made worse by the new design, at least temporarily, until 1,000 more people give up trying to drive into Central London. But there’s congestion on many Islington streets at different times of the day.”
Save trees – forget cyclists…
Ackers was writing in response to a letter signed by, amongst other people, David Gibson of the Islington Society. They point out that the train station is the 9th busiest in the UK.
The correspondents said that there had been a consultation over the proposed rebuild of Highbury Corner: “They had more than 2,800 replies, including objections, among many others, that it was too complicated, with too much provision for cyclists and unworkable lanes; that bus users would be disadvantaged; that the weight of traffic, mainly going north, would be forced into a detour, slowed and backed up with six sets of traffic lights; that the very wide roads, resulting in the loss of 19 trees and more than a quarter of the green space, are unacceptable…”
One can see these people have yet to get on their bikes. They continued to point the finger at cycle lanes: “Experience with excessive new fixed cycle lanes south of the river – fixed in concrete rather than flexible according to need during the day – has included disruption of buses and much else.”
Healthy debate is good for London
Few other towns or cities have such heated debate about cycling as London does. That is to be applauded and is a sign that democracy is alive and well. The fact is that consultations time and again show overwhelming public support for good cycle provision in London. Londoners want clean air to breathe and while travelling by bike to do their bit for the atmosphere, prefer to have as low a risk as possible of being knocked off by an errant white van or construction lorry.