High Court rules with cab trade’s bid to halt cycle lane rollout

London’s taxi trade has won a High Court ruling challenging Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Streetspace plan which sought to manage the Covid-19 pandemic by making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

The case United Trade Action Group Ltd & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v Transport for London & Anor saw Mrs Justice Lang rule that it was unlawful to close sections of London’s roads off to certain vehicles, including Taxis.

The ruling may now see some road space handed back on the grounds that Transport for London allegedly failed to distinguish taxis from general traffic. The Taxi organisation argued that the vehicles are a form of public transport. Interim Guidance offered to Boroughs has now been barred from further roll out, which will undoubtedly see a reduction in the number of pop-up cycle lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

It is not necessarily the end of the road for cycle lanes, with the judge first calling for a substantial revision of plans. Transport for London intend to appeal against the decision. In the past few months a number of active travel orgs have called for an “evidence based approach” to developing the infrastructure.

Mrs Justice Lang said: “In my judgment, quashing orders rather than declarations are appropriate because of the nature and extent of the unlawfulness which I have identified, which affects not only taxi drivers, but also their passengers.

“The plan, the guidance and the A10 Order all need to be re-considered by the defendants and substantially amended in the light of my judgment.”

All of London’s borough authorities, plus the City of London gained Streetspace funding to the tune of a combined £33 million. With the cash 36 Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, 11 strategic cycle arteries and 111 School Streets came to fruition.

Four out of the five challenges put forward by the taxi group were passed, but one was rejected; the perception of the economic benefit drivers take from their statutory licences are a “possession.”

Transport for London said of the ruling: “We are disappointed with the court’s ruling and are seeking to appeal this judgment. Temporary Streetspace schemes are enabling safer essential journeys during this exceptionally challenging time and are vital to ensuring that increased car traffic does not threaten London’s recovery from coronavirus.

“We absolutely recognise the need for schemes such as our Bishopsgate corridor to work for the communities they serve and have worked hard to ensure that people across London, including those who use taxis, can continue to get to where they need to be.

“We also recognise the need for schemes to be delivered in a fair and consistent manner and have worked closely with the boroughs to create clear guidance for implementing schemes, updating this regularly to reflect what we have learnt. We are now carefully considering our next steps.”