Councils across the UK have reversed government-backed street closures in towns and cities after criticism from residents, The Telegraph has revealed.
The closures, which have been made as part of the Department of Transport’s £250 million green roads scheme, were promised to help usher in a “new era for cycling and walking”. However, residents have revolted, claiming that the closures have just shifted and in many cases actually increased congestion and damaged local businesses.
The criticism has led to councils from Herefordshire to Sheffield reversing road closures this week, such as the council for the London borough of Harrow, which recently axed proposals for four low-traffic neighbourhoods.
The leader of Harrow Conservatives, councillor Paul Osborn, told The Telegraph that the suggestions “had not been particularly thought through”. “There’s no real demand from residents," he said. "Lots are, in fact, against the schemes. So they just end up being taken away anyway, and wasting a lot of money in the meantime."
Another local authority to walk back on street closures is Sheffield City Council. In July, the council took advantage of the government’s greener roads scheme to close one lane in each direction on the A61 ringroad to create a new cycle lane, but it will now return the road to full capacity.
The lane closure received criticism after photos were posted on social media showing a police car struggling to get through congested traffic on the road. Previously, an ambulance worker was filmed removing bollards marking out the cycle lane to get past.
Sheffield councillor Bob Johnson told The Telegraph that it's now “time to end the trial”.
In Brighton & Hove, more than 2700 residents have signed a petition to get Brighton & Hove City Council to remove newly installed cycle lanes. It claims that these are “stupid ideas” and that plans to introduce more lanes “will inevitably destroy local businesses and the town in general”.
Autocar has contacted the Department of Transport for comment.