Cycle Superhighway 'Will Destroy Chiswick'
A report on the packed meeting where angry locals confront TfL
CGI of Chiswick High Road near Dukes Avenue and the church
The proposed Cycle Superhighway would "be the deathknell to Chiswick High Street", affecting everyone from the Catholic church, traders, pedestrians, motorists and young parents pushing buggies, a packed meeting in Chiswick heard last Tuesday (27 September).
There was standing room only at the Chiswick Area Forum (CAF) where, in an adjacent room, Transport for London (TfL) was holding the first of a series of exhibitions on its proposals for a seven kilometre stretch of cycle highway from Kensington to Brentford, known as the CS9. One councillor said it was the largest attendance in his memory and showed the strength of feeling about the issue. You can read more details about how the cycle highway will operate in our story.
There was a wide representation of concern from local residents. A group of parishioners of Our Lady of Grace & St Edwards came to support parish priest Fr Michael Dunne, who was concerned at the impact of narrowing the pavement in front of the church (see our story). There were elderly residents concerned about how they would cross the road, young mothers worried about aggressive cyclists tearing down the highway, concerns about loss of parking, the impact on traders and many more. At times the atmosphere became heated.
Councillor Samantha Davies said she was not convinced this was a good thing for Chiswick. It was not going to help local businesses, and would "ruin the High Street" as people would shop elsewhere. She asked if local shops had been consulted. TfL representative Joy Wick said surveys had shown a cycle highway attracted more custom, not less.
Councillor Adrian Lee said that he was concerned about pedestrians. Cutting back on pavement space would make it harder for people with pushchairs and disabled people - we are all pedestrians at some stage, he said.
There were shouts from the audiance of" This will destroy Chiswick as a community". Another member of the public said the cycle lane would attract the fast cyclists with speedometers. It would not be for those in favour of gentle cycling. "It's the idea of these fast cyclists in a shopping area that we are frightened of".
The TfL representative, Joy Wigg, said that pedestrians had been taken into account in the design. There would be a physical separation for cyclists , pedestrians and cars. When there was no cycle land there was an impetus for cyclists to try to get ahead, and this was less likely to happen when there was a designated cycle lane.
Cllr John Todd said he was concerned about plans to cut off access to British Grove.
Another resident said it wasn't the cycle lane that would destroy Chiswick but the proliferation of nail bars, estate agents and the like.
Cllr Peter Thompson queried what he called the "limited consultation period". Mark Frost, Traffic Manager of Hounslow Council said the normal consultation period was four weeks. He said experience showed there was not much co-relation between a long and a short consultation- people tended to respond in the beginning. TfL will be holding a succession of information meetings on the cycle highway.
One woman said that at 7.30am when she is doing her school run there were cyclists who showed a complete disregard for the rules of the highway. Why were they not given number plates so they could be identified, she asked. There were many young families in Chiswick and parents would be unwilling to let their children walk to school with cyclists racing along the road.
There were shouts of "We don't want it, we don't need it. Take it up the A4".
Ms Wigg said they had investigated taking the cycle lane up the A4 but it had poor connectivity to side roads. Mark Frost said that the A4 was not a pleasant environment in which to cycle, and the cost of the A4 cycle lane would be too high.
TfL agreed to have separate meetings with representatives from British Grove, and also with the parish priest Fr Dunne and locals to discuss the issue of the pavement outside the Church.
Bridget Osborne of the Chiswick Calendar, said she would be organising a public meeting to discuss the issue with a date to be announced.
TfL and Hounslow Council have been working on the project since 2011 but there is also involvement by Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington Council. There are several stages to go through before the project can come to fruition.
Chiswick High Road has the highest volume of cyclists in outer London and would benefit from a Cycle Superhighway, TfL told the meeting. If everyone walked or cycled to work it would save the nHD £1.7 billion in health costs. Cllr John Todd asked for statistics on cyclists in Chiswick.
While the CS9 covers a seven-kilometre stretch from Kensington to Brentford, the plan is that in future it will stretch to Hounslow.
The cycle path will be located on the southern side of CHR because surveys indicated this had a lower footfall and it would have a lower impact on tree removal, the meeting heard.
TfL and Hounslow Council said they hoped to maintain the same level of parking spaces but some spaces would be relocated to side streets. "We are aiming for no net loss and working with Hounslow Council's Traffic department on this," she said.
One of the proposals is that traffic be prevented from using Stile Hall Gardens or Wellesley Road as a shortcut to the A205. Locals had complained about queues of traffic using the area as a cut-through. In their survey of Wellesley Road, a total of 55 % people supported 'doing something' about the traffic problem. The cycle lane would connect to the A205 and onto Kew Bridge towards Brentford. Kew Bridge would have a new pedestrian crossing and the cycle track would allow pedestrians to cross at the junction.
Some of the changes proposed to local roads include banning manoeuvres and other changes at the Chiswick High Road/Goldhawk Road junction to help traffic flow around the proposed cycle track. Sunday parking restrictions are also likely to be introduced, and traffic changes to Dukes Avenue, are also likely to affect churchgoers.
The consultation on the cycle highway closes on 31 October..
CGI of Chiswick High Road looking west from Cleveland Avenue
Parking will also be affected. Some single yellow lines will be replaced with double yellow lines, no parking at any time except in marked bays.
Further details with maps and images available on the TfL website.
The CS9 is part of the Mayor's draft Transport Strategy and Healthy Streets project which aims to encourage walking, cycling and using public transport. TfL say it will provide improvement for all road users and offer a clearer and safer route for people to cycle in West London, make it easier to cross busy roads, and remove traffic on some residential roads.
You can let TfL know your views on these proposals by taking part in their online survey.
Alternatively, you can:
Write to FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS (CS9)
You can also request paper copies of plans and a response form, copies in Braille, large text or another language using the above contact information.
October 2, 2017