IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Islington’s £100 bike space rents penalise cyclists

08 June, 2018

Cllr Claudia Webbe and cycling officer David Shannon at one of the bike hangars

• COUNCIL officers recently announced that a minimum of 100 bike hangars a year will be installed across the borough over the next four years – the first 50 between now and autumn, the next cohort between autumn and March 2019. So far, so good.

Alas, things ain’t what they seem to be. First off – according to the council’s Guide to Residential Bike Hangars: “Resident consultations will need to take place before any bike hangar installations.”

Fair enough, you might say – but is it? No such consultation is required when a neighbouring household applies for a car-parking permit. Why not?

This built-in, pro-car, anti-cycling prejudice is contrary to all we know about public health, from toxic emissions to obesity and other chronic conditions – the UK is now the most obese nation in western Europe, with staggering rates even among its primary-school children.

Islington, with one of the lowest rates of car ownership across all London boroughs – just 26 per cent of households owns/has access to a vehicle (Transport for London) – should be leading the way on active travel, prioritising walking and cycling. Instead, our residential streets are lined with the detritus of the car-owing minority.

Then there’s the cost: £104 a year to rent a space in a bike hangar, plus a £25 joining ‘key’ fee.

As one resident told me: “While I’d be happy to put my bike in a hangar rather than clutter up the kitchen, I certainly won’t apply for a space at those rates. My ancient bike cost less than that to buy new.” In Camden, storage costs are £35, in Hackney £30, and in Southwark £25-£35.

Another resident comments: “It’s very difficult to see the rationale for Islington Council to penalise cyclists in this way”, particularly as “car-parking permit costs are incentivised based on emissions”.

At zero emissions, the cleanest/healthiest modes of transport are walking and cycling. Yet earlier this year, in an attempt to justify Islington’s exorbitant costs, the executive member for transport – and environment (someone at the Town Hall clearly recognises the connection between the two) – Claudia Webbe opined: “It is much cheaper for a local authority to provide and maintain an empty car parking space than a secure cycle parking facility.”

Breathtaking in its blinkered view. Perhaps your readers would like to inform Cllr Webbe of the many other costs accruing from her car-centric view of Islington.

Only this week, the Evening Standard reported that 10 per cent of the borough’s roads are in need of maintenance. Potholes are caused by motorised transport, not active travellers.

Fond of reciting the Labour Party’s popular/populist mantra “For the many, not the few”, why is Cllr Webbe determined to turn it on its head when it comes to her own executive brief?

MEG HOWARTH
Ellington Street, N7

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