Mixed Views on Cycleway 9 from Local Business Owners
Six months on from opening some believe it may force them to close
Some traders in Chiswick fear the temporary cycle lane could destroy their businesses – with one slamming the lane as “the worst thing that’s ever happened to Chiswick”.
The Cycleway 9 was put in place by Hounslow Council and Transport for London in December 2020 as a temporary measure to encourage greener, healthier travel – it has since been reviewed for improvement and tweaks were made to the route.
But Rupert Kemble, co-owner of South Beach Day Spa, which he lives above with his wife, called the cycle lane “hideous” and “one of the worst things that’s ever happened to Chiswick”.
He said, “It’s created chronic pollution and traffic congestion, as you see on a busy day when you’ve got buses parking there and everyone’s trying to load and unload and the emergency services are going up and down, it stinks.
“Deliveroos are parking there non-stop, cyclists aren’t stopping at the pedestrian crossing, every single day I get almost knocked over at the zebra crossing.
“No one makes appointments any more, they’re always late.”
Raja Afzal, owner of Four Star Dry Cleaners, claims he has seen a dramatic fall in turnover and blames the temporary two-way cycle lane, which runs in front of his Chiswick High Road shop.
Mr Afzal says the cycle lane takes up space previously used by customers who parked their vehicles. He believes traffic and pollution has actually gotten worse due to the cycle lane.
The trader could now close his doors for good, he said, “My business is at less than fifty percent. There’s also Covid, but this has affected it a lot.
“I don’t think I can stay here much longer. People who have parking outside get more business than us, so why should we pay £22,000 a year in business rates if we don’t get any business?
“There’s pollution, there’s always queues of cars here, it’s very bad.
“They shouldn’t do it like this, we are living in a jungle, not in London any more. This is a very bad idea.”
But Mr Afzal says the loss of one lane has caused traffic jams which have increased pollution.
Stephen Foster of Foster Books said he often sees near misses between cyclists and pedestrians, but doesn’t think the cycle lane has affected his business.
He said, “Overall it’s a good thing being there, I know people are coming to the area because they’re coming on bikes.
“But it does worry me that it’s just a bit chaotic, a bit haphazard.
“I know they reviewed it, but don’t know if i trust it. I think they were so determined to do it they sort of weren’t listening to what anyone was saying.”
Local councillors have expressed concerns that the two-way cycle lane is confusing and potentially unsafe for cars crossing it when turning onto or leaving side streets.
Mr Afzal said he would prefer one cycle lane on each side of the road, sharing space with traffic.
Councillor Ron Mushiso, representing Chiswick’s Turnham Green ward, echoed Mr Afzal’s criticism about the cycle route taking up a lane previously used by traffic.
Cllr Mushiso, a rugby teacher and cyclist, said he would prefer a cycle lane on each side of the road rather than a segregated lane that reduces space for cars and buses.
Cllr Mushiso said, “It was inflicted on Chiswick without proper due process.
“If you’re going to convince people to cycle, you have to use proper argument.”
Hounslow Council is now considering a new six-month traffic order which will see Chiswick’s cycle lane slightly altered to improve traffic, which has slowed bus journeys by 1.3 minutes per kilometre.
Reasons for the two-way lane on one side of the road are outlined in a council report, which states a two-lane route would take up less space overall than one lane on each side.
Positioning the two-way route on the southern side of the road also reduces impact on the other side, which is has higher pedestrian usage, more bus stops and is able to keep its parking spaces, the report states.
Furthermore, a cycle track on both sides of the road would mean removing a “significant number of trees” according to the report.
Hounslow Council has been approached for comment.
Josh Mellor - Local Democracy Reporter
February 15, 2021