Labour have hit out at Tory delays to plans to roll-out secure cycle hangars across Westminster. Secure bike storage is an essential part of supporting cyclists in an area where living space is at a premium and Westminster lags far behind many neighbouring boroughs who have installed hundreds of secure hangers to support their residents.
Despite years of lobbying from Labour, Westminster Conservatives have only installed one such hanger, as a trial, in Ilbert Street in Queens Park. This trial was supposed to trigger a roll-out of hangers to areas desperately in need of them but Labour is disappointed to discover that Westminster Conservatives have kicked the plans into the long-grass with no decision due until after the May 2018 Council Elections.
Westminster Council’s former Chief Executive Charlie Parker had confirmed to the Labour Group that the Council would be actively preparing to roll-out the scheme after the installation of the pilot. In an email of 26th October 2016 Parker confirmed previous verbal arrangements that:
‘The Ilbert Street hangar is with planning for the next 12 weeks and all being well, the hangar will then be installed after that. A decision on the implementation of any further secure storage units will be taken once the results have been assessed after ca. 6 months to allow a fair amount of time to collect data.’
The installation process for the hanger was delayed until May 2017 but even then a six month evaluation period would have been completed in November 2017. Yet Westminster Tories have now decided to extend the evaluation period to a full year (the length of the initial Ilbert Street planning permission).
There is clearly a demand for cycle hangers from Westminster residents. As of September 2017 there had been requests for 90 different sites, with more proposed sites likely since then. Labour is of course mindful of the impact on parking so where possible it would encourage the use of wide pavement areas and piazzas with dropped curbs to reduce the impact on parking spaces. However the public benefit of secure bike storage hangers is clear and if elected in May Westminster Labour would act quickly to deliver them.
Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “It is clear that Westminster Tories are dragging their feet on secure cycle storage. If elected in May a Labour administration of Westminster Council would move swiftly to deliver a substantial roll-out of secure bike hangers in areas where residents have demanded them.”