Article in Today’s Daily Telegraph

Council gritting ‘gives priority to cyclists’

  • The Daily Telegraph
  • 19 Dec 2022
  • By Ewan Somerville

A local council has been accused of prioritising cyclists over motorists and pedestrians with its gritting policy during the recent cold snap. A row has erupted in Dulwich Village, south London, where there have long been disputes over the creation of “low traffic neighbourhood” streets. Some elderly residents say sub-zero temperatures left them trapped in their homes, thanks to “perilous” pavements left ungritted by Labourrun Southwark council.

A LOCAL council has been accused of prioritising cyclists over motorists and pedestrians with its gritting policy during the recent cold snap.

A row has erupted in Dulwich Village, a wealthy suburb of south London, where there have long been disputes over the creation of “low traffic neighbourhood” (LTN) streets.

Some elderly residents say that with sub-zero temperatures last week they were trapped in their homes, thanks to “perilous” pavements left ungritted by Labour-run Southwark council.

Motorists also struggled to navigate snow and ice left ungritted on busy “boundary roads”, campaigners said.

One LTN at the heart of the suburb, a junction between Calton Avenue and Court Lane now blocked by flower planters and only passable by cyclists, received special treatment, locals say.

“They have [gritted] the LTNS and they’ve not done the main roads,” a spokeswoman for Clean Air For All Dulwich, an anti-ltn residents’ group, told The Daily Telegraph.

“I think they just focused on people who can cycle and not cared about people who walk, as it’s been the pavements that have been so dicey.”

Jane Lyons, from Age Speaks which represents 100 elderly and Blue Badge holders in Dulwich, said: “It does feel like an ideological campaign from the centre of Southwark to say, ‘if you’re not fit or young enough to get on a bike, then hard luck’.”

LTNS – designed to greatly reduce motorised traffic – were rolled out in the suburb at the start of the Covid pandemic under the Government’s “green transport revolution”, but they have been dogged by claims that they worsen air pollution by displacing traffic.

Town hall chiefs across London are facing hypocrisy claims for promoting LTNS as “active travel” by cutting car use, yet leaving pedestrians terrified of walking on pavements which were still covered in ice yesterday, despite temperatures warming up from the -5C plunge last week.

Nicos Georgiou claimed parts of Enfield were “an ice rink”, adding: “What is felt across the borough is that the place is now run by anti-car, procyclists.”

Catherine Rose, a council member concerned with leisure, parks, streets and clean air at Southwark, said: “Any suggestion the council grits ‘ideologically’ is utter nonsense.

“Our focus is on safety and keeping the borough moving. We grit major routes and those used by most people for public transport, cycling, walking and driving.”

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