Cycle lanes welcomed by riders but traders express frustration

Haverstock Hill cycle lanes in Belsize Park, Camden

Haverstock Hill cycle lanes in Belsize Park, Camden - Credit: André Langlois

The recently-opened Haverstock Hill cycle lanes have met with a mixed reaction from traders and the public.

Camden Council pressed ahead with the scheme despite a backlash from businesses around Belsize Park due to the removal of parking for shoppers.

The segregated cycle lanes – on Haverstock Hill and Rosslyn Hill between the junction with Prince of Wales Road and Pond Street – are part of an 18-month trial.

This week, some Belsize traders said there has been a drop off in custom.

Omar Nsour, 27, who works at Belsize Hair Salon, said: “Earlier, people used to come and park where these lanes are built. Now it is not possible for the customers to park in the entire area where the lane is built. It is quite annoying.”

Omar Nsour of Belsize Hair Salon

Omar Nsour of Belsize Hair Salon - Credit: PP Jaseem

George, the 70-year-old owner of the Chez Nous coffee shop, had the same complaint. 

“It affected our business very badly due to the lack of parking facilities," he said. 

"The customers are not coming as they used to. They don’t have the space to park now, and they have plenty of other options as well."

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Not all traders oppose the lanes. Didi, 36, owner of Didi’s Juice Bar, said: “Being myself a cyclist, I completely support the cycle lane.

"We might lose some business, but we will be able to save more lives. It will make cycling safer in London."  

Didi, of Didi’s Juice Bar

Didi, of Didi’s Juice Bar - Credit: PP Jaseem

Paul, a 55-year-old cyclist who had just used the lanes, said: “The more cycle lanes there are, the better. Having separate lanes for cyclists is necessary, otherwise bigger vehicles knock them off and make riding cycles difficult."

Cyclist Leo, 18, said: “It makes a big difference. It makes cycling safer. Most of the drivers in London overtake and cut the space of cyclists which makes it super difficult for the cyclists to manoeuvre around the cars in the traffic."

Cyclist Leo

Cyclist Leo - Credit: PP Jaseem

Cllr Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said local stakeholders, including businesses, will benefit.

“The five new pedestrian crossings and cycle lanes being trialled on Haverstock Hill and Rosslyn Hill are absolutely vital for helping people travel more safely around Camden, whether it's switching from car to bike for some journeys or walking to the shops and restaurants of Belsize Park and Steele's Village," he said.

“As well as contributing to our vision of zero casualties on our roads, they are part of our collective effort to cut the carbon out of transport, and slash air pollution on our way to World Health Organization standards.

"I understand this means some changes to the area, but I believe businesses, residents, visitors and local stakeholders will find it a real benefit. I am also pleased that four local schools, the Royal Free Hospital, and Great Ormond Street Hospital backed the new walking and cycling changes.

“The trial scheme is now substantially complete with remaining elements, such as the zebra crossing at the northern end being completed this month. We will welcome feedback from businesses and all other stakeholders, throughout the trial, ahead of a final decision on whether or not to retain, amend or remove the trial scheme.”

A cyclist going up Haverstock Hill, Camden

A cyclist going up Haverstock Hill, Camden - Credit: André Langlois

The council said it will be contacting residents and businesses to let them know how they can provide their feedback on the trial scheme.

A spokesperson added: “We will be contacting businesses and residents to let them know how they can provide their feedback on the trial scheme once construction is fully completed.

“The council will also work with local businesses to establish a Freight and Servicing Action Plan for Haverstock Hill/Rosslyn Hill which will help deliver sustainable loading and servicing along this corridor.

“It will also be running a number of engagement activities with businesses and residents to highlight opportunities for further feedback alongside it’s on street communications.”