Council Votes to Make Cycleway 9 Permanent

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Councillors say cycleway has made bus journey times 'slightly longer'


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Consultation Shows 66% Have Negative View on Cycleway 9

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Local Cycling Campaigner Says Temporary Cycleway a 'Death Trap'

TfL Refuses To Disclose Level Of Local Support for CS9

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September 8, 2023

Hounslow Council’s cabinet has voted to make the Chiswick section of Cycleway 9 (C9) permanent despite concerns from opposition councillors it may be causing more problems than it is solving.

Cabinet members were being asked to consider a recommendation to replace the existing experimental traffic order under which the scheme is enabled on a trial basis with a permanent order which would mean it would not longer need to be periodically reviewed.

At the same time they were presented with the consultation report which showed 66% of residents had a negative view of the scheme and a monitoring report from TfL which showed the scheme “has failed to deliver on every important metric” according to the council’s opposition members.

Despite these reports, the cabinet passed the motion to make it permanent unanimously with Hounslow’s Deputy Leader Cllr Katherine Dunne saying she is “convinced” by the data that it’s the right thing to do.

The council laid out the areas it would look at when assessing the success of C9, including its impact on congestion, bus journey times, cycle usage, air quality, road safety, parking, equalities and protected characteristics and consideration of any impacts on the surrounding road network. A temporary cycle path was first announced in 2019 but took time to set up and implement due to the pandemic, with the first phase of C9 being introduced at the end of 2020 and running until November 2021.

Since then, there have been a number of construction periods from 2021 to 2023 as C9 was continually updated. Cllr Dunne, who announced before presenting her proposal that she is a member of Hounslow’s chapter of the London Cyclist Campaign, said, “Key headlines are that cycling has increased, we’ve seen a 47% increase in cycling since 2021. Collisions along the route have decreased.”

However, objectors say that this doesn’t present the whole story. They point out that the 47% increase in cycling claimed for the scheme compares two periods in which the cycleway was operating and a like for like comparison from the monitoring report, comparing the growth rate from before the pandemic, shows an increase of just 23%. From Transport for London data in the proposal’s appendices there is no clear indication of a drop in the rate of collisions from before the scheme was introduced and when the temporary scheme was implemented.

A table showing the number of collisions during the periods when C9 was introduced or was under construction all show rates that are roughly the same or higher than before it was implemented. The only exception is between February and June in 2023 after improvements were completed, where a clear drop in incidents is indicated. Data on collisions in the eastern section of the cycleway, which comes under Hammersmith & Fulham Council, was not included in the report and this shows a significant increase.

The effects of C9 on bus journey times, congestion and parking on Chiswick High Road have also created a certain level of animosity towards the project.

Cllr Dunne concedes that while some bus journey times are back to normal from before C9 was put in place, others are “still slightly longer”. The deputy leader adds that she is sure that “we think we can make improvements”.

Although there have been improvements to the original temporary scheme, with the proposal to make it permanent coming with a raft of extra measures to ensure transport along the C9 continues to improve, public reception of the cycle path might not be what the council were hoping.

This was raised by Cllr Peter Thompson who said that a TfL survey about C9 had revealed “much public misgiving about the cycle lane”. The Conservative councillor for Chiswick Riverside added: “My gut feeling is it’s a lot of money for not a lot of benefit.”

He cites the consultation which had 5,292 responses and shows that around two thirds of people believed that congestion had worsened as a result of C9. TfL found that 69 per cent of respondents believe that the scheme needs to be changed because it’s causing issues.

The majority of people who responded to the consultation don’t believe that C9 is a positive improvement and almost 1 in 5 respondents said they believed the scheme would increase the number of collisions between cyclists and pedestrians for example at new bus stop bypasses, when crossing the road.

Cllr Thompson continued, “Some people as part of the survey said that it actually put them off cycling at times which is rather strange and paradoxical.”

Quoting again from the survey he adds that traders also seemed concerned about the impact of C9, “The majority did not think that it had had a positive impact, it’s made deliveries more difficult, customers are concerned about a loss of parking.”

The councillor says that he has used the cycle path himself but adds that “sometimes it feels a bit threatening”, especially when there are a lot of pedestrians around. Other councillors at the meeting spoke in favour of the route. Cllr Salman Shaheen said, “When I moved to London, I was very afraid to cycle on London’s roads.”

The cabinet member said he had been personally affected by the issues Londoners have had with cycling safety over the years, speaking about an incident involving a former colleague who suffered life-changing injuries in a collision.

Despite that Cllr Shaheen says measures to make cycling safer by councils like Hounslow meant “I have conquered my fear of cycling”. Cllr Tom Bruce also spoke in favour of the motion, hinting that C9 and projects like it were the future of transportation in major cities in the context of the climate crisis.

“It’s not been popular with everybody,” he admitted but improving air pollution rates and improving climate health meant he “absolutely support[s] these proposals”.

Concerns around the data being used by Cllr Dunne to justify making C9 permanent have been raised prompting her to respond. “Am I convinced on the data? Yes,” she said.

“You can still have different interpretations of data but our analysis says it [making C9 permanent] is the right thing to do.”

The same meeting which approved making the scheme permanent was also asked to approve a raft of proposed improvements. These include:

  • Waiting and loading restrictions alterations on some side roads
  • The loading bay outside No.160 Chiswick High Road operating as a taxi rank between 9pm and 3am
  • Two traffic lanes (including the left turn only lane) at the Chiswick Lane junction for westbound traffic.
  • An eastbound bus lane between Homefield Road and Netheravon Road
  • A westbound bus lane between Airedale Avenue and Netheravon Road.
  • Additional areas on side roads between Chiswick Lane and Heathfield Terrace for taxis to drop off and pick up passengers
  • Bus stop shelters provided on all bus stop islands

Cllr Dunne also promised to explore measures to improve bus journey times including the removal of the bus gate at Acton Lane and look to improve visibility of ‘floating’ bus stops to help elderly and disabled people. TfL is opposed to the removal of the bus gate but Hounslow Council officers believe the additional measures listed above will mitigate any reduction in bus journey times. However, the plans are subject to funds being available.


Rory Bennett - Local Democracy Reporter