What do residents think of the Staveley Rd barrier now?

We had an email from a Mrs Frost who lives on Staveley Rd in Grove Park, about the diagonal barrier introduced on 1 October at the intersection of her road with Park Rd, designed to stop commuters using Staveley Rd as a cut through. At the time of its installation there were daily protests by residents of Park Rd against the installation of the barrier.

Mrs Frost writes:

‘I’m reading a lot about the Park Road residents and their disgust at the barrier on Staveley Road. However, as a Staveley Road resident I would like our view point put across. It’s the best thing that has ever happened. The road is quiet (and this includes Park Road) and there is very little traffic. Please come and take a look’.

Chiswick Calendar survey

We wondered how many other residents felt as she did, so we’ve taken up her invitation to go and have a look and carried out a Chiswick Calendar survey. Our reporter Matt Smith has spent several days over the past week going door to door asking as many residents of Park Rd and Staveley Rd as possible what change it had made to their road now that things have had a chance to settle down, nearly two months on from the barrier’s installation.

This is not intended as an in depth analysis, merely a snapshot of public opinion at this point. The results show overwhelming support for the barrier from the Staveley Rd dwellers, and less opposition than the Park Rd Residents Group claims from the residents of Park Rd.

A divided community

23 November, 2020 / by Matt Smith

If you’re driving down Staveley Road from Sutton Court Road, you’re met in the middle by a red and white plastic barrier. You are redirected up Park Road towards the A4. If you’re coming in Staveley Rd the other end, from Chiswick School, you are directed left at the barrier down Park Rd towards Chiswick railway station.

This, the traffic planners at LB Hounslow council say, is to stop motorists using Staveley Road as a rat-run from the A316 to and from the A4 and to lower pollution levels in the area as a whole.

Two pedestrian islands have also been removed and replaced with a set of temporary traffic lights and a temporary pedestrian crossing. The changes are part of the wider ‘Low-traffic Neighbourhood’ schemes which have been introduced in various places across Chiswick.

Days of peaceful protests by angry residents delayed the implementation of the measures for nearly two weeks, culminating in Hounslow Highways beginning their work early in the morning on 1 October to install the barrier when most people were asleep.

The residents who were protesting, who identify as the Park Rd Residents Group, have been highly vocal in their opposition to the changes. They have described the barrier as “monstrous” warned it would have a harmful effect on Park Rd and the surrounding area.

Between Wednesday 18 and Monday 23 November on three separate days, I knocked on all the doors in both roads and spoke to residents, who gave their answers anonymously. I asked them whether they thought it was better or worse to live on the road since the introduction of the barrier and why.

Staveley Road

Images above: Staveley Road, a pie chart showing the results of The Chiswick Calendar’s survey 

92% say it’s better

Of the 66% of households which took part in the survey on Staveley Rd, 92% of respondents said that living along Staveley Road was better since the barrier was introduced. 5% said it was worse, and 3% said they were neutral or had not noticed a difference.

When asked to describe in a few words why they felt it was a better road to live on, the most common follow-up answer was that the road is now much quieter, due to a significant reduction in traffic. One resident, who works from his living room, said that before the changes were introduced the road was “gridlocked” at times and his impression was that there was now “ten times less traffic than there was before”.

Respondents said that far fewer cars were speeding down the road too.

One woman said she has seen two accidents in the past two years, both of which were at the intersection with Park Road which she said used to be “a death trap”. Another woman told us: “people aren’t living in fear any more”.

Another said:

“The road used to be like a motorway and extremely dangerous. I have photographic evidence of three road accidents since living here and I have voiced my concerns to the council about the safety of children going to school on many occasions. I am very pleased they finally listened and hope they make the measures permanent”.

Images above: an accident on Staveley Rd in recent years

Whilst the vast majority of Staveley Road respondents said it is actually better to live along the road, some were conflicted and critical of LB Hounslow’s traffic changes in other areas of Chiswick.

One man said that the entire scheme is a complete waste of taxpayer’s money and he thought it would have been better to just put up speed cameras instead. He also said that ambulances found it difficult to navigate.

Park Road

Images above: Park Road, pie chart showing the results of The Chiswick Calendar’s survey.

57% say it’s worse

The figures show a stark contrast between Park Road and Staveley Road residents. Of the 63% of people who took part in the survey on Park Rd, 57% said they felt it was a worse road to live on since the implementation of the changes. 26% said they were neutral or had not noticed a difference and 17% said the road was better.

Common follow-up answers as to why the road was a worse place to live included that it was inconvenient for residents to get to their homes, that there has been an unsafe increase in traffic flow towards the A4 and that there are now lots of heavy duty vehicles driving up Park Rd from Burlington Lane.

These heavy duty vehicles drive into Park Road and realise they cannot go any further once getting to the barrier, and either make a three-point turn in the road or reverse back out onto Burlington Lane, which respondents said was completely unsafe and wasn’t something that had been an issue before.

One resident said the road is in “absolute chaos, motorists don’t know where they’re going and sometimes it’s like having Lewis Hamilton drive down the road because of how angry people get when they realise they get to the barrier and have to drive back out in a hurry.”

An elderly respondent, who has lived on the road for 45 years and said that the changes meant she couldn’t get to the Co-op and said everyone working for the council “are completely rubbish and brainless.”

Image above: a lorry carrying a forklift reversing out on to Burlington Lane from Park Road (Credit: Jane O’Gorman)

Nearly half are neutral or happy with changes

Whilst a majority of Park Road residents indeed think it is worse to live on the road now, close to half of respondents along the road are either neutral about the changes or thought they actually make the road a better place to live. This is a different perspective from the one given by the Park Road Residents Group and One Chiswick, which cites LB Hounslow’s “Have your Say” survey showing 98% want the Staveley Road diagonal barrier removed. That figure reflects those who felt sufficiently energised to go on to the council’s website and leave a comment.

Of those who took part in The Chiswick Calendar door to door survey, among the 17% on Park Rd who told us the introduction of the barrier made their road better, the most common follow-up answer was that the road was now quieter because there has been a reduction in traffic generally, as people have got used to the changes. This might in part be because we are currently in lockdown.

One man, who has lived on the road for decades, was glad of the changes even though they inconvenienced him personally, because he thought they encouraged people to use their cars less and as a result he said fewer people were speeding down the road. He lost one of his dogs several years ago to a speeding car, and he said he has felt safer since the changes were introduced.

Another respondent who said she was neutral, told us she was glad that the survey was anonymous, saying that she would “get lynched” if anyone knew that she wasn’t opposed to the changes. She was joking, but I think the comment showed just how heated and divisive the debate has been over these last several weeks.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: John Cleese swaps cricket stories with Peter Oborne & Richard Heller

See also: Labour rebellion on Streetspace initiatives in LB Hounslow

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