Chiswick’s Conservative councillors have re-launched their campaign against the dual lane cycle track which is planned to connect Hammersmith with Brentford via Chiswick High Rd. Their objections range from fears that the cycle route will damage businesses in the High Rd to the loss of the area’s character, with less pavement in some places and fewer mature trees.
The councillors have campaigned against the cycleway (originally called the Cycle Superhighway 9 or CS9 for short, renamed by TfL as it conjoured up a vision of cyclists whizzing past and stopping for nothing and proved a PR disaster) since the autumn of 2017 when the initial plans were published. Here are their arguments against it, as set out in their press release of 10 July 2019.
Press release from Chiswick’s Conservative councillors, 10 July 2019
‘The results of the consultation showed that residents who live, work, run a business or commute through areas that will be affected are actively against CS9 as proposed. When TfL carried out its consultation, it declared that respondents were 60:40 in favour. However, looking at the responses by postcode and W4, W6 and W14 in particular (the areas that will be most affected by the new cycle track) residents were 60:40 opposed.
‘It is widely reported that cycleways will reduce congestion by encouraging a change from cars to bicycles on a mass scale. However, TfL’s own statistics show a decrease of 15 per cent in cycling in the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow, down from its peak from 2006 to 2017. Furthermore, CS9 as proposed, will impact on walking, by taking away pavement space, actively conflicting with TfL’s policy of encouraging walking. TfL officials recorded the number of cyclists on the High Road over two days in June 2015 to be 2,130. Residents then conducted a cycle count in the same month at the same times over the equivalent days in June 2018 and recorded that there has been a very modest 1.2% increase in the number of cycle trips since 2015. This represents a 0.4% increase in each of the three intervening years. In the context of a concerted effort in recent years by the Mayor and TfL to encourage cycling, this increase is negligible.
‘The Embankment cycle highway CS3 cost over £47m yet its daily use has only increased by 754 since it was built. “This is not just a shocking waste of public money, but it also demonstrates that the rationale is fatally flawed because substantial numbers of people are not getting on their bike once the cycle highways are open”, Cllr Barr commented.
‘The current proposal will make Chiswick High Road, which currently carries two lanes of traffic each way, single file in places which will lead to crawling speeds and gridlock. Even TfL’s own predictions are of congestion and increased journey times. Judging by other parts of London where there are similar schemes, traffic is jammed whilst the cycleways are empty and unusable by anyone else.
‘CS9 is a scheme that TfL wants to push through with no regard for local residents particularly older people, visually impaired people, adults with small children, anyone walking. If it goes ahead, rammed along pavement, it will significantly decrease walking space along the south side the High Road. Many of our independent shops are on the south side. Our small independents must not be forced to fail because of the wishes of a tiny minority of people, many of whom don’t live or work in Chiswick but who are passing through. The pavement is no place for a cycle superhighway. The pavement is the place for pedestrians.
“We want safe cycling in Chiswick so residents and visitors can reach the High Road safely and travel along it safely. We don’t want TfL’s madcap linear scheme in a town that is far from linear. It will destroy our retail and leisure economy which is a significant factor in Chiswick’s desirability as a destination for visitors and as a place to live, work and spend leisure time. Chiswick High road is a destination and not a thoroughfare. As for congestion, loss of trees, loss of parking, loss of loading bays, failure to address air quality, numerous junctions and the very important safety risks posed by having to cross a confusing single-track two-way channel, it’s a triumph of fanatical dogma over common sense,” Cllr Joanna Biddolph said.
‘TfL has yet to publish the outcome of its second consultation, changes to Duke Road/Dukes Avenue and Kew Bridge. It is expected to do so soon and to publish its final proposals which will then go to Hounslow’s cabinet for decision, perhaps on 3rd September or in October. Hounslow council has the final say.
“This is our last chance to stop CS9/CW9,” Councillor Patrick Barr stressed. “Many residents signed our first petition, last year, and we were grateful for their support. As shadow spokesperson for adult health and social care I understand how important exercise is. Obesity is a national, London and local problem. Thirty minutes of exercise to reach a raised heart rate five times a week is recommended. Yes, cycling is a mode of transport that gives us exercise and we need to promote cycling. Safe cycling infrastructure is needed in Chiswick but not in the form of a cycle superhighway down our High Road pavements,” Cllr Patrick Barr said.
“We remain resolutely opposed to this scheme in Chiswick. TfL’s attempt to soften its impact by changing its name from Cycle Superhighway 9 (CS9) to Cycleway 9 (CW9) is laughable. It is the same scheme – a one-sided, two-way, fast-track for cyclists travelling through Chiswick. It is not what Chiswick needs – safe local cycling within Chiswick, rather than an insensitive commuter-cycling box-ticking scheme,” Cllr Joanna Biddolph said. “If you feel the same, please sign our petition.”
‘The petition reads: “We deplore the way that TfL has ignored the clearly expressed views of the residents of Chiswick and urge Hounslow Council to reject TfL’s proposal to build a segregated two-way Cycle Superhighway (CS9) along Chiswick High Road”. CS9 if implemented will:
- Seriously damage the viability of Chiswick’s shops and businesses
- Remove the street’s highly prized wide pavements
- Significantly increase traffic congestion and journey times
- Reduce this busy road to a single carriageway at key points
- Destroy much loved mature trees
- Fail to address air quality on one of London’s most polluted roads
- Force pedestrians to cross a high speed two way cycle route
- Drive more traffic on to Chiswick High Road because of road closures
- Remove essential parking spaces used by shoppers and residents
- Create a frustrating stop/start route for commuter cyclists
- Cause traffic gridlock for up to two years during construction
‘You can sign the petition online. You can also contact us for the paper version. Please call 020 8994 1406 and we will send the petition to you or drop them off at your address. Or you can visit us on Chiswick High Road from 10.30am every Saturday over the next two months. Look for the tall banner!’
Photograph of Chiswick High Rd by Anna Kunst