TfL's Claims That Cycleway 9 is a Success Hotly Disputed
Opponents say data is being misused to show route is safer and popular
Figures released by Transport for London (TfL) and Hounslow Council which they say shows that Cycleway 9 (C9) has been a success are being vigorously disputed by opponents of the scheme.
The authorities claim the number of people cycling on Chiswick High Road has increased by 72% on weekdays and there have been fewer collisions since the temporary cycleway was put in place.
It is also asserted that air quality along the road has improved since the changes were made in December of last year.
However, One Chiswick, a group campaigning against the C9, accused the TfL and the council of ‘myth-making’ and have presented figures which they say show C9 has made cycling in Chiswick significantly more dangerous.
TfL quotes ‘provisional data’ from the Metropolitan Police which shows that the 12 months before TfL temporary cycle lanes to were introduced on Chiswick High Road, there were eight collisions involving a cyclist, while in the six months since TfL introduced the temporary scheme, there have been two such collisions. The OneChiswick group dispute this number saying that during the six months of operation a Freedom of Information request to the police which was responded to this week has shown there have been 11 collisions involving cyclists on C9.
One Chiswick says, “TfL seems to have presented inaccurate data (which it describes in its press release as ‘provisional’). The data OneChiswick received from the Metropolitan Police, combined with TfL’s prior year data indicates that in 6 months there have been 3 more collisions than there were in the entire prior year, suggesting collisions involving cyclists have increased by a pro forma 175% (possibly more on an underlying basis, due to seasonality and lockdown effects).”
Figures on the usage of the cycleway were collected between February and April 2021 and show that up to 2,700 cycle journeys a day were made on the new segregated route. Around 20% of vehicle journeys are now made on pedal bikes. While it is generally accepted that cycling in Chiswick has increased during the pandemic as it has in other parts of London, TfL are accused of manipulating the available data to come up with a local increase of 72% One Chiswick point out that the figures is derived by comparing February 2021 which saw an average temperature of 6 Celsius and 15 days of rain 5 days of snow compared to April 2021 which had an average temperature of 8 Celsius and only 6 days of rain and 3 of snow. In addition it is claimed that lockdown restrictions were more severe in February and more people had returned to work by April.
We have requested the raw data used by TfL and its press office said they would be supplied "as soon as we can".
Data from an air quality monitoring station in Chiswick High Road opposite Windmill Road also shows an overall improvement in air quality, with levels of nitrogen dioxide, nitricoxide and particulate matter that are consistently lower than before the cycle lane was installed. However, One Chiswick and many other local residents have queried the value of this data pointing out that the cycle lane means bus traffic has been moved further from the measuring point and queues of traffic have built up at the junction with Acton Lane and between Goldhawk Road and Chiswick Lane where there is no data for air quality.
TfL says it has commissioned independent research which shows that there is support from residents for the protected cycle lanes on Chiswick High Road, with 47 per cent in support of the scheme, compared to 43 per cent against. This is contradicted by previous surveys by Hounslow Council which showed high levels of opposition to the scheme. OneChiswick says of the research quoted by TfL, “There is scant evidence of independent research, only the Cycleway 9 (Streetspace) ‘Community Conversations’ Engagement report for which TfL provide a link. In this community engagement TfL engaged with 48 people – yes, forty-eight – so if it claims 47% in support of the scheme, that is just 23 people in support of the scheme, who might, or might not live in Chiswick.” We have requested the report on the community engagement done by TfL on which it has based its claim and its press team replied that data on the survey was still being processed.
TfL and Hounslow Council say that on the basis of traffic data and feedback from local residents, they will be making a decision shortly on ‘tweaks’ to the scheme which are intended to help improve bus journey times and reduce congestion in the area, including new eastbound and westbound bus lanes. No details have been released on how these bus lanes would fit into the existing road configuration.
Construction work along the rest of the C9 corridor is set to continue, with Hammersmith & Fulham Council about to start construction work on a section of their Safer Cycling Pathway between Goldhawk Road and Hammersmith gyratory in the coming weeks.
Cllr Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport and One Hounslow at Hounslow Council, said, “This new data is evidence of how effective the trial cycle lane in Chiswick has been especially in reducing collisions. It is great that families can cycle around the borough together and feel safer than ever before.”
Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner at the London Cycling Campaign, said, “We hope TfL and councils including Hounslow, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea work together to rapidly connect this popular cycle track up to other destinations. Because the climate emergency demands climate safe streets.”
July 11, 2021