Chiswick Conservative councillors have given a cautious welcome to the recent announcement by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (LBH&F), endorsed by London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman, that “Cycle Superhighway 9 is no more in Hammersmith & Fulham”. LBH&F is instead proposing to introduce a Cycle Highway along the A4 and a Safer Cycle Pathway along King Street and Hammersmith Road so that cyclists of all abilities – from complete beginners to daily commuters – can ride safely. LBH&F has said it intends to consult local residents’ groups, disability organisations and schools.
“LBH&F’s new proposal is potentially remarkably similar to our long-called for recommendation for Chiswick,” Cllr Joanna Biddolph, leader of the Conservative Group on Hounslow Council said. We have said, from the start, that CS9 should be re-routed on the A4. We welcome the recognition that it is a viable route for faster cycling. Chronic underinvestment means it is currently under-used. Repairs and innovative updating, such as raised crossings, would change that.
“Our proposal was dismissed out-of-hand by TfL, the pro-CS9 lobby and Hounslow council. We ask them to engage more constructively with us on this option. If it is workable in LBH&F, it is workable in Hounslow,” she said..
“If LBH&F’s cycling scheme for more confident cycling, along the A4 from Hammersmith Gyratory to Chiswick, were to continue through Chiswick to Brentford, that could be a remarkable win for LBH&F and Hounslow residents.”
Cllr Joanna Biddolph has written to Cllr Steve Cowan, leader of LBH&F, calling for collaboration between LBH&F and Chiswick’s councillors. Clearly, whatever happens in LBH&F will impact on what happens in Chiswick. It is essential that both councils work together on this and, in particular, that councillors who represent Chiswick should be involved in discussions about, for example, how the Safer Cycle Pathway joins Chiswick High Road and how the Cycle Highway will work along the A4 in Chiswick. Chiswick needs a scheme that works seamlessly over boundaries.
Chiswick’s councillors are concerned, though, about the lack of clarity and detail on the Safer Cycle Pathway and Cycle Highway. They have sought clarification on several issues stressing that retailers be consulted and asking whether consultation might result in no changes or if the changes might only be about aesthetics (improving the streetscape) while retaining CS9 as proposed.
They have also written to Cllr Steve Curran, Labour leader of Hounslow Council, calling on him and his fellow Labour councillors to reflect hard on the reasons for Labour-controlled LBH&F’s decision, and to recognise the significant and broad-ranging local sentiment against such an expensive infrastructure project along Chiswick High Road.
They note that there are better ways to balance what is needed to encourage more walking and more cycling against the risks to our retail economy. Modest investment (not the huge £70m proposed for CS9) could bring significant safety gains for people on bikes and on foot. We would like to work with experts and designers to develop a bespoke scheme that would serve local residents better, radically reduce disturbance (both during and after construction) and bring sustained improvements to congestion and pollution. Multiple smaller improvements to surfaces, junction layouts, signage, segregation, and encouraging vastly more people to cycle north/south as well as along Chiswick High Road, particularly for short local journeys to the shops and to schools, etc. We would also like our cycling infrastructure to benefit more people who commute to work in Chiswick, for example extending it to Chiswick Business Park which CS9 does not reach.
They are concerned that the emerging boulevard concept, currently being promoted by the London Cycling Campaign, calls for wider pavements yet CS9 takes away much needed pavement space. Meanwhile, the House of Commons Active Travel – Trends, policy and funding report recommends prioritising walking even more in future, also a call for wider pavements and making areas more attractive and enjoyable. The parliamentary High Streets and Town Centres in 2030 report calls on local authorities to facilitate parking and to develop visionary strategies for the urban realm. They say it is clear that CS9 is already an out of date scheme.
“We welcome the recognition that King Street is not a suitable location for a 2.5m-3m wide, hard-kerbed, segregated cycle lane,” said Cllr Patrick Barr, deputy leader of the Conservative Group. “By clear inference, the same is true about Chiswick High Road where there will be a significant impact on pedestrians (pavements expropriated), retailers (loading bays moved, premises severely blighted), public transport (a bus lane lost, road blocks gained) and on residents and visitors (parking spaces removed, junctions made complicated). In contrast, the beneficiaries – commuters passing through – would be few.”
“The pro-CS9 lobby repeatedly portrays us as anti-cycling NIMBYs. We are not. Indeed, many of us are regular cyclists. To suggest that we are also callous, and uncaring about cycle-safety, is equally preposterous. Our position has always been about the detail of the design of the CS9 scheme. Segregation has its place but this would be the first time such a scheme has been built along a high street such as Chiswick High Road.”
Chiswick’s Hounslow councillors are continuing to collect local signatures for the petition to Hounslow’s cabinet asking them not to approve TfL’s current CS9/CW9 proposal. The support the petition has already received shows the significant weight of local opposition to the current scheme, as TfL’s survey showed revealing that 63% of respondents in W4 were against the scheme. Councillors believe there would be considerably less opposition to a scheme that puts a Cycle Highway for commuter cycling on the A4 and a Safer Cycle Pathway along Chiswick High Road and along roads to/from it.
You can sign the petition online here.
The emails to Cllr Steve Cowan and Cllr Steve Curran follow.
EMAIL TO THE LEADER OF LBH&F
Dear Councillor Cowan,
I’m writing as leader of the Conservative group on Hounslow council and one of the councillors for Turnham Green ward which incorporates the longest stretch of the proposed route for CS9 in Chiswick.
I was interested to read your recent press statement about Cycle Superhighway 9, stating that it is no more in Hammersmith & Fulham and that you have agreed with TfL to introduce a Cycle Highway along the A4 and a Safer Cycle Pathway along King Street and Hammersmith Road. Given that your two schemes will run to the boundary with Chiswick, it seems to me that residents would expect us to be in close touch at least from a technical and practical perspective. I hope you will agree, not least as your revised plans appear to align so closely with ours.
As you know, TfL has proposed that CS9 (rebranded CW9) should travel along Chiswick High Road. From the start, we have called for CS9 to be on the A4 and for a better scheme in Chiswick. Your new plan for LBH&F is potentially remarkably similar to our long-called-for recommendation for Chiswick.
If CS9 is re-routed on the A4 from Hammersmith Gyratory to Chiswick, then through Chiswick to Brentford, that could be a remarkable win for LBH&F and Hounslow residents.
I also note you will be holding workshops with local residents’ groups, disability groups and schools to get their views on what is needed along King Street. LBH&F clearly wants to be seen to be taking the issue seriously, listening to residents and looking at a scheme from residents’ perspectives. On the face of it, this sounds laudable.
However, we have some concerns based on what has been stated publicly including comments made in response to questions about your announcement.
Will there be any changes? I note, with alarm, that, in a reply to a comment on your announcement (https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/articles/news/2019/08/residents-shape-safer-cycling-facilities-hammersmith), an LBH&F spokesman said “We don’t know what, if anything, will change” after listening to residents. The implication is that there might be no changes and that CS9 could still go ahead along King Street more or less as TfL has proposed. Might that be the case?
Will you consult retailers? Given the fact that, here in Chiswick, there is enormous concern about the impact of CS9 on retailers along Chiswick High Road and nearby, I am concerned that your statement says you will be “working with TfL and a residents’ advisory group” with no mention of consulting retailers. From our experience in Chiswick, retailers’ concerns are as much about any cycling scheme’s impact on local residents, disabled people and schools. They are, after all, the retailers’ customers – and ensuring customers can get to and from shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants easily and safely is a key concern. Issues such as space for walking, driving, parking and loading are obviously crucial, as are bus lanes and the impact of the scheme on pollution and congestion. All must be considered in any redesign. Will you be consulting retailers on these issues?
Streetscape changes only? I note that you seek a scheme that will “complement the streetscape along King Street and Hammersmith Road”. I note also that LBH&F has said it is “particularly keen to learn what residents think about how the route integrates into the surrounding environment”. Does that mean that changes might be restricted to aesthetics alone, important though that is, rather than the type of scheme it will be?
What is a Safer Cycle Pathway? It would be most helpful to know what you mean by “The Safer Cycle Pathway will be tailored to suit families, novice riders and those just looking to pop to the shops”? Might this be an on-pavement mini-Holland scheme (which has failed in, for example, Enfield, as I discovered when I visited (http://turnhamgreen.yourcllr.com/2019/03/08/empirical-evidence-from-enfield-shows-cs9-will-put-local-shops-at-risk/), or carved out of pavement, or on the road? Will it be on both sides of the entire length of King Street, enabling popping to all shops, or on one side only? Or do you propose something entirely different from any scheme introduced so far?
How will the Cycle Highway be configured? Will this be on one side of the A4 only or on both sides? Is this open to consultation or has it already been agreed?
Will there be collaboration with Chiswick? Clearly, whatever happens in LBH&F will impact on what happens in Chiswick. It seems to me that it is essential that both councils work together on this and, in particular, that councillors who represent Chiswick should be involved in discussions about, for example, how your Safer Cycle Pathway joins Chiswick High Road and how your Cycle Highway will work along the A4 in Chiswick. I hope you will allow us to attend the workshops as observers so we can understand the thinking behind your residents’ views and consider compatibility and suitability at the boundaries with Chiswick, and beyond, for pedestrians, cyclists, users of public transport and drivers.
I urge you to collaborate with us to ensure your scheme for King Street is compatible with what is needed along Chiswick High Road particularly, but not only, at the boundary with Chiswick.
I also urge you to collaborate with us to ensure your TfL-supported scheme for the A4 from Hammersmith Gyratory to the boundary with Chiswick is compatible with what is needed along the A4 in Chiswick.
Meanwhile, I am puzzled by an apparent contradiction between your announcement and TfL’s views. I see from an article (http://www.hammersmithtoday.co.uk/default.asp?section=info&page=cyclehighway033.htm) published after your press statement was issued, that TfL considers that CS9 still exists as proposed. This is rather confusing. It also says that LBH&F has already redesigned its new scheme. Is that the case? Have you already held workshops with residents’ groups, disability groups and schools or with the residents’ advisory group? If so, were they held during the summer when many people were away?
I would be very grateful if you would clarify your plans and agree to meet us to discuss them and their impact on Chiswick, at the boundary and beyond. It is clear that there should be walking, cycling and driving compatibility where King Street and Chiswick High Road meet as well as where the A4 route in Hammersmith meets the A4 in Chiswick.
I welcome the chance to get together as soon as convenient to discuss the implications of your revised plans and I look forward to hearing from you.
EMAIL TO THE LEADER OF LBH
As you will have seen, Cllr Steve Cowan, leader of LBH&F, has announced that Cycle Superhighway 9 is no more in Hammersmith & Fulham (https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/articles/news/2019/08/residents-shape-safer-cycling-facilities-hammersmith). Instead, LBH&F has agreed with TfL to introduce a Cycle Highway along the A4 and a Safer Cycle Pathway along King Street and Hammersmith Road.
As you know, from the start we have called for CS9 to be on the A4 in Chiswick, for through-route cycling, and for a better local cycling scheme for Chiswick including travel to/from Chiswick High Road. The new plan for LBH&F is potentially remarkably similar to our long-called-for recommendation for Chiswick.
Indeed, if CS9 is re-routed on the A4 from Hammersmith Gyratory to Chiswick, then through Chiswick to Brentford, that could be a remarkable win for LBH&F and Hounslow residents as well as for people passing through.
Clearly, whatever happens along King Street and the A4 in Hammersmith will impact on what happens in Chiswick. It is essential therefore that councillors who represent Chiswick should be involved in discussions with LBH&F about the scheme including, for example, how its Safer Cycle Pathway joins Chiswick High Road and how its Cycle Highway would work along the A4 in Chiswick.
It is unclear at this stage what LBH&F’s plans might be so I have written to Cllr Steve Cowan asking for clarity and collaboration with us, Chiswick’s councillors, to ensure the LBH&F schemes for King Street and the A4 are compatible with what is needed along Chiswick High Road and the A4 in Chiswick.
We have welcomed LHB&F’s plans to consult local residents’ groups, disability groups and schools. This demonstrates that LBH&F is taking local consultation more seriously and that it wants to hear local voices and views itself, rather than rely on TfL’s analysis of its flawed consultation. We have stressed the importance of consulting retailers, too, to make sure the voice of local business owners and entrepreneurs is heard. This is markedly different from, and better than, what happened in Chiswick.
Indeed, the importance of local consultation was recognised by London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, who said, as quoted in the LBH&F announcement, that “it was important to take the time to get the scheme right”. We agree.
We ask you to reflect hard on the reasons for LBH&F’s decision, made by a Labour-controlled council, and to recognise the significant and broad-ranging local sentiment against CS9 along Chiswick High Road.
We ask you to work with us to develop a route on the A4, for more confident cycling, and a sympathetic cycling scheme on Chiswick High Road (as well as on roads to/from the High Road) and to ensure that whatever is developed in LBH&F from the Hammersmith Gyratory to the boundary with Chiswick at King Street and the A4 is compatible with what is needed in Chiswick. Issues such as space for walking, driving, parking and loading are obviously crucial, as are bus lanes and the impact of the scheme on pollution and congestion. All must be taken seriously. We also urge you to act as Cllr Steve Cowan has done by announcing that CS9 is no more in Chiswick.I trust you will agree to this reasonable request and look forward to hearing from you.