The Cabinet of LB Hounslow meets in a week’s time after its summer break. Top of the agenda on Tuesday 3 September is the approval of Cycleway 9, introducing a two way cycle track along the south side of Chiswick High Rd. The Cycleway formerly known as Cycle Superhighway 9 looks set to be given the go-ahead after receiving strong endorsement from the council’s transport officers.
Head of Traffic and Transport to Cllr Hanif Khan, Lead Member for Transport recommends “the scheme is progressed to detailed design”. The transport team, led by Mark Frost, has prepared 19 briefing documents for councillors’ consideration, covering every aspect of the scheme including traffic modelling, air quality modelling, parking surveys and retail surveys.
Michael Robinson, Borough Co-ordinator of Hounslow Cycling Campaign said:
“We welcome the publication of the briefing documents for Cycleway 9 prior to the decision by the council cabinet. The documents contain a huge amount of detail that both justifies the benefits of the scheme, and refutes the scaremongering and misleading information from opponents”.
Headlines from the main report
Once the cycleway is built we can expect less traffic down the High Rd, and more on the A4 as drivers realise the High Rd has been narrowed.
Bus journeys along the High Rd in the evening rush hour (in both directions) are expected to be between two and four minutes quicker but in the morning they’re expected to be up to five minutes longer going in to town.
Transport for London planners have listened to the objections of Chiswick residents and over two periods of consultation have dropped the initial proposals to change access to British Grove, dropped plans to make Dukes Avenue entry only and dropped the idea of banning right turns on to the High Rd from Duke Rd, in response to concerns from residents of the Glebe estate that their narrow residential roads would become rat runs. They’ve also kept the six metre wide pavement outside the Catholic Church so members of the church can congregate there.
Hounslow’s transport officers consider the impact on air pollution from slower moving traffic in some places and better traffic flow in others would overall be ‘negligible’ and the impact on cafes and restaurants with outside seating would be ‘minimal’.
They consider that even with reduced parking available on the High Rd there are still sufficient spaces to meet current requirements and that the cycle lane will not have an adverse impact on economic activity. An analysis of reports from changes elsewhere show ‘walking, cycling and public realm improvements can increase retail sales by up to 30%’ and that shoppers don’t use their cars as much as businesses tend to think they do.
They admit that ‘there will be ‘localised changes to air quality and noise levels’, so some people will find their environment less pleasant as the result of changing traffic patterns. They acknowledge that about half the pavement along the south side of the High Rd will be reduced in width by more than half a metre, but say at no point will it make the pavement less than two metres wide. They concede also that the loss of four mature trees is ‘a substantial negative’ and suggest tree planting blitz to compensate.
They also want an additional £300,000 from TfL ‘ring-fenced’ so they can monitor the impact and make changes accordingly.
The main summary report runs to 63 pages. They have taken each criticism which has been made of the cycleway and evaluated it, highlighting where changes have been made to the original plans after consultation or setting out counter arguments to each of the objections and giving their reasons why they think on balance the cycle lane is the right thing to do.
Whereas the early pronouncements from TfL and Mayor of London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman were short on facts and long on the kind of wishful thinking that would put Pollyanna in the shade, (and were frankly insulting to anyone with half a brain), this is full of facts and properly researched information. Transport modelling is still educated guesswork but at least now TfL have been made to show their workings, so you can evaluate the standard of their guesswork.
The report which will be presented by Cllr Khan takes councillors through the history of Cycleway 9 from Transport for London’s initial consultation two years ago, which received more than 5000 responses on a very wide range of issues, to the plan as it now stands.
The briefing acknowledges the extent of local opposition:
‘In the initial consultation there was approximately 60% support for the scheme amongst those who responded. However, it was clear that there was widespread local concern about some elements of the scheme. This was particularly the case in relation to the section along Chiswick High Road’.
It then outlines the changes which TfL made as a result. There were two periods of consultation: the first in the autumn of 2017; the second earlier this year. Controversial changes to access to British Grove at the Hammersmith end of the High Rd were dropped and a number of other changes made.
The plan as it is proposed now includes:
- A new two-way cycle track, largely segregated from motor traffic (by a raised kerb stone), running along the southern side of Chiswick High Road
- Changes to bus stop locations and layouts, including new bus stop bypasses for cyclists
- Six new signal-controlled pedestrian crossings and over 20 upgraded pedestrian crossings
- Changes to parking (a reduction of spaces) and loading facilities, and hours of operation
- Bus lanes on Chiswick High Road and High Street Brentford to operate Monday to Saturday 7–10am, 4–7pm; Bus Lane on Kew Bridge Road to operate ‘At Any Time’.
- Loss of four existing trees, to be replaced with nine new trees.
- Two way traffic in and out of Duke’s Avenue at the junction with the high road (except for HGVs), and the retention of two lanes on the eastbound approach from Chiswick High Road.
- A weight restriction on the access to Duke’s Avenue from the A4 for vehicles over 7.5t.
- Duke Road to be exit-only at Chiswick High Road (but they’ve dropped the idea of banning right turns on to the High Rd)
- Restrictions on access to the South Circular from Wellesley Road and Stile Hall Gardens for motor vehicles
- A segregated two-way cycle track on the southern side of Kew Bridge Road and South Circular Road (instead of two one-way cycle lanes on either side of the road initially proposed)
Addressing the issues raised by opponents to the scheme, the main summary report offers the following comments by Hounslow’s transport officers. Click on the links to read their comments on each of the following objections:
Recommendations to limit unknown impacts of the scheme
The council’s report to the Cabinet makes it clear that the introduction of a cycleway through Chiswick presents a significant change and Hounslow’s Head of Transport Mark Frost wants TfL to commit to providing ‘sufficient resource for ongoing monitoring and mitigation measures ring-fenced.’