Views on Cycleway Sought from Those with 'Protected Characteristics'

Survey to focus on impacts on groups such as the disabled

Report shows majority believe changes have caused congestion
Claims made that bus islands disadvantage the disabled. Picture: OneChiswick


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Hounslow Council is conducting a survey to gauge the impact of Cycleway 9 in Chiswick on people with 'Protected Characteristics'.

These include age, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.

It is understood that the most affected of these groups will be the elderly, the disabled and pregnant women and the council is urged them to give their views in this survey.

After the initial installation of the segregated cycleway in December 2020, Hounslow Council is proposing a trial of a revised scheme.

Criticisms of the earlier scheme included impacts it had for elderly and disabled pedestrians in Chiswick including when crossing the road and the introduction of bus island waiting points. An Equalities Assessment Report presented to the Hounslow Council cabinet in July states that the design of the Cycleway is within statutory guidance including for bus islands and that the council has attempted to engage with groups representing the elderly, the partially sighted and people with other disabilities.

Clllr Sam Hearn, the Conservative party spokesperson on transport said, "The construction of bus-shelters on the absurd floating bus-stops will jsut make them even more of a hazard for those who are blind or partially sighted or have limited mobility."

The council says that design of bus islands follows a blueprint adopted following extensive studies and trials, such as the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) trials between 2015 and 2018. The trials involved in-depth on street monitoring (including video surveys) as well as interviews with people with mobility and visual impairments.

A Judicial Review was sought by the One Chiswick group to challenge the original design which it believed breached disability legislation due to the impact that it had on the elderly and disabled.

The council believes that the new design proposed deals with many of the concerns raised in this legal challenge including the introduction of bus shelters on bus islands and more drop off points for taxis on the High Road.

The original scheme reduced the number of points along Chiswick High Road where a blue-badge holder may park and where a vehicle carrying a disabled person may stop to pick-up or set down a passenger. The council says that under their new proposals there will be no point on Chiswick High Road that will exceed the Government's recommended limit (50m) for walking distances for people with mobility difficulties without a rest.

The council also believes that the cycleway provides benefits to groups such as women and pregnant women, who studies have shown to be more likely to take up cycling, if safe cycling infrastructure such as segregated cycle tracks are in place.

An Experimental Traffic Order is to be introduced by the council which will give highway authorities 18 months to assess the impact of the changes.

At the end of the trial, or after a minimum six-month statutory consultation period, a decision will be taken about whether to make the scheme permanent or whether further changes to the design are required.

Changes to Cycleway 9, which will be implemented in the autumn of 2021 under a new experimental traffic order, include:
• Waiting and loading restrictions lifted on some sections of side roads to test the benefits of increasing informal provision for loading/unloading and pick up/drop off.
• The loading bay outside 160 Chiswick High Road to operate as a taxi-rank between 9pm and 3am to assess the benefits of better taxi provision in the area.
• Introduce bus stop shelters on all bus stop islands to test the benefits and assess any disadvantages of the provision of better waiting spaces for bus users.
• Reinstate two traffic lanes (including the left-turn only lane) at the Chiswick Lane junction for westbound traffic to assess whether this reduces congestion and improves bus journey times. This will require the road to be slightly widened and the footway to be slightly narrowed. The works would also require the loss of a 90-year-old tree adjacent to the Chiswick Lane junction with a new tree to be planted as a replacement.
• Reinstate the eastbound bus lane between Homefield Road and Netheravon Road to assess whether this improves bus journey times. This will require the road to be slightly widened and the footway to be slightly narrowed.
• Reinstate the westbound bus lane between Airedale Avenue and Netheravon Road traffic to assess whether this improves bus journey times. This will require the road to be slightly widened and the footway to be slightly narrowed.
• Provide additional areas on side roads between Chiswick Lane and Heathfield Terrace for taxis to drop off and pick up passengers to test the usefulness of reducing the distances passengers would need to travel to a taxi.

Councillor Hanif Khan, Cabinet member for Transport and One Hounslow, said: “Ahead of TfL's full consultation on the revised project, we are speaking to residents about how the Cycleway 9 proposals may affect people with Protected Characteristic specifically.

“We have a duty to make sure that no-one is discriminated against, and the engagement activity will help the Council to have a fuller understanding of these issues and the potential solutions that TfL should implement to mitigate them.

“In addition to the engagement meetings we are holding with residents, I'm urging residents with Protected Characteristics to complete our survey.”

Cllr Jo Biddoplh said, "It is virtually impossible for anyone to respond to this survey given that Hounslow Council has not provided drawings, on the website page introducing the survey, to show where there might be risks to people with protected characteristics. The summary it has provided is sketchy and lacks detail.

"On one point, perhaps irrelevant to this specific survey, it includes the fact that a tree will be removed and replaced - but what is the tree, how much is its value as a mature tree to carbon capture, character and ambience, and where will its replacement be and what will it be replaced with?

"Similarly, where is the information that explains that where the road will widen 'slightly' and the pavement narrow 'slightly' the pavement will actually be reduced by more than two thirds?

"What about the junctions where the cycle lane will veer inwards, making walking in and out of junctions even more complex? The survey is not fit for purpose, something we regrettably still have to expect from Hounslow Council despite all the comments from residents and business owners about the importance of transparency and clarity."

Residents can complete the Cycleway 9 survey online.

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August 22, 2021

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