Some Love Dedicated Cycle Lanes, Others Hate Them – High Court Ruling


Dedicated cycle lanes on busy streets deliver environmental and air quality benefits and are, of course, good for cyclists. However, as a High Court ruling showed, there are other interest groups – not least motorists – who tend to view them as anything but a panacea.

A local authority installed temporary cycle lanes on a traffic-laden street at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in response to objections from some local businesses and the emergency services – together with a public petition that garnered more than 3,000 signatures – they were subsequently removed.

Extinction Rebellion campaigned on the issue, which sparked much national media attention and political comment. After reviewing the matter, the council decided against reinstating the cycle lanes. That decision was challenged in court by an individual resident and a local campaign group.

Rejecting their complaints, however, the Court noted that there was manifestly no statutory duty on the council to carry out a formal public consultation process before reaching its decision. It had not promised to carry out such an exercise, nor had a duty to consult arisen as a matter of established practice.

In addressing air quality, environmental and cycle safety issues, councillors were entitled to take account of their own local knowledge. The support of some larger retailers for reinstatement of the cycle lanes was not ignored. There was, overall, nothing irrational in the council’s decision to conduct further research before determining what, if any, cycle lane provision should be made on the street.

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