The Licensed Taxi Drivers Assocation (LTDA), which represents thousands of London’s black cab drivers, is reportedly seeking a judicial review of Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision, announced today, to approve two Cycle Superhighways running across the centre of London.
News of the LTDA’s potential legal challenge was broken in a post on Twitter by BBC London transport correspondent Tom Edwards, with his tweet retweeted by the LTDA’s own account shortly afterwards.
Danny Williams of the Cyclists in the City blog wrote: “My understanding is that a judicial review could hold things up for many months. Worst case, it could even kill the scheme.”
“The LTDA would be seeking a review of the process behind the consultation. Bear in mind that this is the largest consultation TfL has ever held and you'd have thought that the taxi association is on very very weak ground on this. But let's see,” he added.
It’s the second time in less than a week that the LTDA has threatened to seek a judicial review of a major highways project in London.
Last Friday, BBC London News reported that Camden Council’s plans for a £41 million overhaul of Tottenham Court Road had been described as “madness” by LTDA general secretary Steve McNamara.
The council wants most motor vehicles, including taxis, banned from the street from 8am to 7pm on every day other than Sunday.
The street will be restricted during those hours to buses, cyclists and vehicles requiring local access, with the plans approved following a public consultation, as happened with the Cycle Superhighways given the green light by Mr Johnson today.
Camden Council says the works will improve safety and help local businesses ahead of the opening of the Crossrail Station at the Oxford Street end of the street in 2018
But Mr McNamara insisted: "To consider banning taxis from Tottenham Court Road could be described at best as farcical.
"No thought has been given to the hundreds of thousands of people that get picked up and set down by taxis in the metropolis every day."
Camden councillor Phil Jones maintained that by using side streets, other vehicles including taxis would have access to 60 per cent of the thoroughfare.
"A detailed assessment of the impacts of allowing taxis to use the full length of Tottenham Court Road has been undertaken,” he said. “The assessment has highlighted that allowing taxis to use the street would lead to more traffic congestion, worse air quality and increased road traffic collisions," he said.
A London Cycling Campaign spokesman said the proposals were a chance "to show how even the busiest London streets can begin to be reclaimed from motor traffic dominance."
Meanwhile the Freight Transport Association (FTA) says it still has concerns over the impact on its members of the two routes approved today, although it adds that “it isn’t opposed to Cycle Superhighways in principle.”
Its head of urban logistics, Christopher Snelling, said: “The information published on delay times still does not reflect how industry and private motorists actually use these roads. And yet the first road-works to build these superhighways will start in just a few weeks’ time.
“By this April we will see works underway on all the proposed routes, affecting some key routes into the centre of London. It seems that the target pushing this is the aim to finish the routes by May 2016 – when the Mayor leaves office.”
The FTA believes that the works may result in a knock-on effect not only in London but also as far out as the M25, and Mr Snelling said: “Given the tight constraints of drivers’ hours rules, this could result in significantly increased costs to the logistics industry. And that means increased costs for the businesses and residents in London who rely on them.”
However, he added: “The improvements that have been announced today show how careful work can improve the situation to better reflect the balance of London’s transport needs, and the revised plans issued are an improvement on those previously put out – traffic delays have been reduced somewhat and more loading capacity has been added than was planned before.”