Opposition Call-in Decision to Make Cycleway 9 Permanent

Says evidence to support the decision was flawed

Councillors dispute evidence that Cycleway has made High Road safer for cyclists


Council Votes to Make Cycleway 9 Permanent

Removal of Acton Lane Bus Gate Proposed

Consultation Shows 66% Have Negative View on Cycleway 9

Work Taking Place to Upgrade Dangerous Cycleway Junction

Confusion Reigns over 'Potemkin' Cycleway

Uncertainty Over Continued Access to A4 from King Street

Serious Injuries to Cyclists on 'Safer Cycle Pathway' Rise Again

Just How Safe is Cycleway 9 on King Street?

Lobby Group for the Blind Says Cycleway 9 is Not Safe

Local Cycling Campaigner Says Temporary Cycleway a 'Death Trap'

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September 17, 2023

Conservative opposition councillors in Hounslow have called-in the cabinet’s recent decision to make C9 permanent.

They are arguing that the evidence used to justify the decision on the £13million project was flawed and have presented their own detailed analysis questioning details of the Monitoring Report provided by Transport for London claims made in the cabinet papers submitted at the meeting at which the move was approved.

The grounds for the objections include inaccuracies in the use of statistics on collisions, the use of data to show the level of increase in cycling, the impact on journey times and equalities issues, particularly with regard to the disabled.

The council’s decision to make the scheme permanent does not refer to the physical infrastructure but that it would be in future enable by a permanent traffic order rather than an experimental one which means that it would no longer be subject to further review.

‘Calling-in’ the decision means that the concerns raised will now be considered by a panel of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on 21 September. This body has a Labour majority but is made up of councillors from both parties who are not members of the cabinet.

Cllr Peter Thompson (Chiswick Riverside ward) said, “It seemed clear to us that the data provided to support the decision to make C9 permanent had been ignored and the scheme had been deemed a success based on a very narrow view. Even the cabinet report states that the decision is open to challenge. We would not be fulfilling our role as the opposition group – to hold the council to account – if we failed to challenge this misinterpretation of the data and the fact that crucial data is missing. We found that the call-in is justified on three of the six possible reasons for a call-in:

• the absence of adequate evidence on which to base a decision
• the action is not proportionate to the desired outcome
• a potential human rights challenge.

"A call-in doesn't have the power to stop or postpone a scheme such as Cycleway 9 but given the amount of controversy and division in the community about this scheme we need to be sure that the decision made by the Cabinet was based on sound evidence."

The Conservative call-in includes data which challenges the data provided by the council including on collisions which are only slightly lower than before C9 was built with two months of data still to be provided, and with 'serious cycle collisions nearly four times higher after the first phase opened'.

The TfL Monitoring Report had argued that Cycleway 9 was demonstrating that it was making cyclists safer as there had been no recorded serious injuries since the new junction treatments were put in place earlier this year. However, a report submitted with the call-in queries how much time there has been to measure collision accurately for the period from February to June 2023 when the second phase was complete. It is argued that, because of the time lag in TfL updating its collision data, the numbers for much of this period could remain provisional.

The report with the call-in submission states, “TfL should clarify whether the collision data they have cited from "Feb-June 2023” is in fact verified data, or only provisional. If the later, then it should have been labelled as such in the cabinet report, along with a ‘health warning’ that the number and severity of collisions may increase once the verification process is complete.”

It goes on to say that TfL data shows that cycle collisions doubled during both previous periods when C9 was fully open that and 2021 would subsequently prove to be the worst year in TfL’s road safety records for cycle collisions along the C9 route on Chiswick High Road despite earlier unverified data suggesting collisions had reduced.

It is also pointed out that, although the fully upgraded cycleway reopened on 16 February this year, sections of it were completed beforehand and a collision on Brackley Road happened when a side road entry treatment had been completed which undermined the claim that the new layouts had made the area safer for cyclists.

The chart below suggests that the collision rate (to date) since the full re-opening of C9 is only slightly lower than those in 2018 and 2019 before C9 was built. If any further collisions come to light once the data for May & June is verified, then the collision rate in 2023 could yet become worse.

The call-in is also justified by a challenge to the methodology used to claim a 47% increase in cycling on Chiswick High Road which it is said is “a new metric, which potentially relies on inaccurate data & flawed methodology” and it is question why no 2023 cycle counts were provided in the TfL report even though it would have access to the data.

“Cycle kms” are a calculation to estimate cycle demand along the entire route and depend on data from the digital cameras at the junction with Heathfield Terrace and Turnham Green Terrace. TfL admitted at an earlier stage that collection of data from this source was ‘challenging’, therefore it is argued that it is not a sound basis for assessing the increase in cyclist use and the lower figure from more traditional cycle counts should be used with the report stating, “400 extra cyclists do not represent a good return on £13m of investment”.

The call-in papers also suggest that the effects of higher journey times for buses and other vehicles on the High Road since the cycleway was installed were downplayed by describing it as an extra 1minute per kilometre which actually represents a 50% rise for a vehicle travelling at 20mph.

Claims in the cabinet paper that the main pollutants in the area have faller or are below EU limits are dismissed as they are in line with similar locations and because the reduction in the number of vehicles on the High Road should have resulted in larger improvements. Moreover levels of harmful PM2.5 particulates increased in 2022 to a level of 12 mg/m3 – in excess of the target of 10 mg/m3 set by the UK government and the Mayor of London.

The opposition also says that, as the council’s equalities assessment notes that impact on "some equality groups or individuals" is likely further complaints about the scheme will arise and litigation is a possibility.

“We are particularly concerned that the cabinet member dismisses these concerns saying that there are ‘different interpretations of data’. When lives and livelihoods are at risk, it is crucial to interpret data factually not figuratively, and not to look for different measurements because like-for-like comparisons do not meet the council’s hoped-for outcomes”, Cllr Thompson concluded.

Should the scrutiny committee concur with the concerns raised by the call-in, it is able to refer the decision back to cabinet. This would not oblige the council to take any action other than to acknowledge the report and confirm that it has reviewed its original decision and sticks by it.

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