Hackney Council has written to the Metropolitan Police asking for tougher police protection for its road closure schemes.
The London borough complaining it has been hit by a “crime wave” of vandalism targeting equipment used in the borough’s experimental Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), which close residential streets to through traffic.
The i newsletter latest news and analysis
In the 24 hours leading up to Friday evening three traffic monitoring sites were damaged in the borough, while earlier this month vandals at another site smashed a £17,000 traffic monitoring camera and cut power cables.
The borough is facing costs running into “tens of thousands of pounds” to rectify the damage, according to Councillor Jon Burke, who leads Hackney’s transport and energy programmes.
‘Highly organised’ vandals
Mr Burke said the vandals appear to be “highly organised” opponents of the controversial LTNs, which have been rolled out across the UK to make residential roads safer for novice cyclists and pedestrians. The measures have attracted vocal criticism, and repeated vandalism, since their introduction across the country in May, although research suggests the majority of residents support them.
Mr Burke insisted the attacks on LTNs would not sway the council in its attempts to give road space back to those walking and cycling. “We are not willing to cave in any way, to give a single inch, to people who think they can intimidate their way into changing our minds,” he told i. “That is simply not going to happen.”
He wants the Met Police to devote more resources to catching those responsible for the most serious incidents. “I want the people who are engaging in this activity to be caught and prosecuted,” he said. “We need to send a very strong signal to people that it is not right in a free society with democratically elected politicians to take the law into your own hands in this way.”
Opposition to cycle lanes is overestimated
It comes as a new survey suggests most people support measures to increase walking and cycling. Just 19 per cent of people object to bike lanes and other walking and cycling infrastructure, according to a YouGov poll of 2,094 UK adults on behalf of Cycling UK.
But people just one in three respondents think the public is generally in favour of such measures, with 29 per cent believing there is overall opposition.
“This survey shows people clearly want safer, cleaner streets where they feel confident their children can play and exercise without threat of danger, but they overestimate public opposition to bike lanes massively,” said Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore.
— to inews.co.uk