Vigilantes trashing bike-friendly road blocks and cameras amid 'war'

Vigilante motorists are trashing traffic cameras and vandalising bike-friendly road blocks within 24 HOURS of them being set up as ‘culture war’ between London drivers and cyclists intensifies

  • Furious motorists are vandalising road blocks within 24 hours of being set up
  • Hackney Councillor Jon Burke also claimed a traffic camera has been destroyed
  • It comes amid a growing row over cycle lanes blocking roads for motorists 

Vigilante motorists are vandalising traffic cameras, destroying road blocks and sending councillors death threats as the ‘culture war’ over road closures continues to escalate.  

One local authority transport chief says ‘fanatics’ are trashing road blocks within 24-hours of their installation.

Cycle lane signs in Hackney are being defaced with red paint and angry motorists recently cut the cables for a £17,000 traffic camera, Hackney Council’s transport lead Cllr Jon Burke claims.  

This comes amid an increasingly toxic debate over low-traffic neighbourhoods which close certain roads to motorists but allow cyclists and pedestrians to travel freely.

The initiative has been criticised for resulting in blocked roads and gridlock traffic across London.

Many of the cycle lanes appeared across the capital while people were encouraged to stay at home as the nation battled the coronavirus pandemic. 

The ongoing row between motorists and cyclists comes as:

  • Wooden seats and cycle bays called ‘Parklets’ quietly replaced parking spaces as authorities continue to exploit the Covid-19 crisis in their war against motorists; 
  • The Euston Road bike lane, brought in to try to ease congestion, was removed after less than six months because it had completely the opposite effect; 
  • Footage showed a fire engine stuck in a cycle-lane road block in Ferndale, south London, forcing firefighters to walk to the nearby incident;
  • The AA criticised Hammersmith and Fulham council for slapping motorists who drove down five residential roads with £130 fines unless they had a permit. 

Hackney Council’s transport lead Cllr Jon Burke showed the damage and abuse of road signs in the growing row over the growing number of cycle lanes

The Hackney councillor also says ‘fanatics’ recently cut the cables for a £17,000 traffic camera

A Twitter user also shows another sign defaced in red paint amid the escalating ‘culture war’ between cyclists and motorists

Cycle lanes brought in during the pandemic blocked emergency vehicles and caused chaos for motorists, the Transport Secretary admitted .

Although he insisted cycle lanes have been ‘used brilliantly’ in many places, Grant Shapps criticised councils causing gridlock with badly designed schemes. 

 In an interview on LBC , Mr Shapps said: ‘You can do a lot of good things by enabling people to walk and cycle, it’s good for all of us.

‘In some places it was used brilliantly, in other places, I’m afraid, it was very poorly used. I was not impressed with some of these schemes in London.’

He added that he is ‘particularly critical’ of road schemes which have restricted access for emergency vehicles.

‘It is the case that you have to consult with emergency services before coming to these decisions,’ he said. 

He added that London’s mayor ‘should know this’. 

Critics, including 14 Tory MPs, have been pressuring Mr Shapps to abandon the active travel policy.

Councils are using cash from a £250million Government fund to create pop-up bike lanes, bigger pavements, safer junctions, cycle and bus-only lanes and LTNs.

LTNs are intended to close roads to rat run traffic but furious motorists have been protesting against the changes, alleging they create gridlocked traffic on main roads.

Hackney Council’s transport lead Cllr Jon Burke said: ‘In recent days, a number of Hackney’s new traffic counters have been broken, and a camera subjected to £20,000 of damage.’

He added that Labour Councillors are also ‘receiving abuse and death threats’ and slammed the ‘degenerates’ wading into the row. 

The councillor later tweeted a picture of damaged plant boxes designed to close a road to cars, adding: ‘In the 24 hours since this new filter was delivered, anti-LTN fanatics who absolutely cannot accept sharing the roads with all those who both use and pay for them, have stolen the bollard, defaced the signs, and snapped the trees.

‘Degenerates, plain and simple.’

In September, Cllr Burke received an anonymous letter which threatened to burn his house down while he slept, and to kill him and his family, if the LTNs were not removed.

It said: ‘Open all roads now or we will get violent.’

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets in Hackney and neighbouring Islington over the summer, and Redbridge Council capitulated and axed its LTNs in October after a public backlash.

Cllr Burke says vandals cut the cables to a camera monitoring one road closure on November 12, claiming this will cost more than £20,000 to repair.

He claims roadblocks in Hackney, Croydon, Redbridge, and Lewisham have been damaged by thugs, warning of spiralling repair costs.

He added: ‘This isn’t a few acts of minor vandalism it’s a nefarious and potentially organised crime way associated with the destruction of public property.

Parklets are put into parking spaces and extend the pavement out onto the street 

A photograph taken on Cleveland Road, Islington, showed the central bollard – in place to stop motor vehicles using the road – had been removed from its socket to leave a space wide enough for a car to pass through

What is the government’s active travel scheme and why are motorists upset?

The Government is spending £225 million on active travel measures across the country, most notably in London, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham and York.

A major initiative launched by the Department for Transport in May set aside £225m for ’emergency active travel schemes for local authorities due to the pandemic’.

The department says the money will enable local authorities to produce ‘new cycling and walking facilities’ and its altered road and parking schemes will promote recovery.

However, Emergency Active Travel Fund money comes with a string attached. Councils must satisfy officials ‘they have swift and meaningful plans to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians (both groups rather than one or the other), including on strategic corridors.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has closed the road to cars as part of the active travel scheme to encourage people to walk and cycle.

BCP Council was awarded around £1.4million from the government for the project.

‘I made by officers detail the costs of remunerations of vandalism of LTNs and at the moment it is in the tens of thousands of pounds with Hackney, so naturally it is going to run to if not the hundreds of thousands of pounds than I expect £100,000.

‘Ultimately the vandals in Hackney are stealing taxpayers money through the destruction of these things because on the whole we will have to replace them without insurance costs tends not to extend to tree furniture.’

Cllr Burke claims his opposite number in Wandsworth Cllr Jo Rigby – the Labour shadow transport chief in a local authority run by Tories – has also been subjected to threats and intimidation.

He also alleges that NextDoor – a community forum – has become a hotbed for criticism where someone recently threatened to shoot the elected mayor of Hackney over the LTNs.

The councillors comments come amid an escalating row over the imposition of cycle lanes and ‘parklets’ – wooden structures extend off the curbs into parking spaces to give pedestrians more space.

Their reduction of road space has angered motorists with the Alliance of British Drivers founder Hugh Bladon calling the problem ‘absolutely chronic’.  

He previously told MailOnline: ‘Councils all over the country, the one thing they hate is anybody using the car or any kind of four-wheeled vehicle.

‘They will do anything they can to make it as miserable as possible for drivers. 

‘The situation in London and spreading to other cities is absolutely chronic.

‘We have got a situation because they have made these parklets it has brought some areas to a standstill.

‘You have got the emergency vehicles unable to go about their businesses properly because of all of this. We are going to end up with people dying because of this.

A video previously emerged showing a blue-lit emergency vehicle which appears to be wedged between a wooden planter and a parked white vehicle in Ferndale, south London

‘In my view if that happens, the councils who have done this have got blood on their hands.

‘We have been campaigning vigorously against these. Once you get these things put in — how the hell do you get them take out again? 

‘The whole thing is completely crackers, it’s going to take someone strong to say “Put our roads back to normal” but it needs to happen.’ 

In one incident a fire engine appeared to be stuck in a road block, put in place to create a ‘Covid friendly’ cycle lanes.

Footage of the incident shows the blue-lit emergency vehicle wedged between a wooden planter and a parked white car in Ferndale, south London, last month

As firefighters ditch the vehicle and make the short walk to the nearby incident, one angry resident can be heard raging against the scheme, saying: ‘You are trying to say this is good for us?’

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