Work is due to start shortly on the construction of a temporary version of Cycleway 9 along Chiswick High Rd and Heathfield Terrace.
The two way segregated cycle track was approved in September 2019, but the impact of Covid-19 on the finances of Transport for London has meant that instead of installing the Cycleway as planned, TfL and the local council have agreed temporary measures, using cheaper materials and methods.
Instead of a concrete curb segregating cyclists from traffic there will be ‘traffic cylinders’ placed at four metre intervals to mark out the three metre wide bi-directional track on the south side of the road. To reduce cost, the track, all the way from Goldhawk Rd to Heathfield Terrace, will be created entirely on the road rather than taking space from the pavements.
This meets many of the objections of Chiswick residents who did not want to lose pavement space to make way for the cycle track and it also means that no trees will be cut down.
It does however reduce the space in the road for vehicles.
Less space for cars and buses
‘In effect this means removal of a significant proportion of bus priority in the High Road’, according to a written statement by the Council’s Chief Officer for Transport, Mark Frost. But he thinks the effective closure of Turnham Green Terrace, meaning less traffic on the High Rd, will mitigate the effects and help reduce delays to buses.
In a couple of places, access to alleyways will be blocked off. Drivers will no longer be able to turn down Bleak House Lane beside the Lamb pub, or turn into the car park opposite George IV pub. Access to the car park will be from the Devonshire Rd entry only.
According to the statement, other key differences between the temporary scheme and the scheme as it was approved last year are:
– Removal of two lane approaches to signalized junctions, except Goldhawk Road
– Zebra crossings retained, rather than replaced with signalised crossings.
– A number of additional traffic and refuge islands will be removed.
– Closure of the central access to the car park, opposite Windmill Road.
– Waiting and loading restrictions altered to suit amended layout, whilst retaining suitable loading facilities for all businesses.
Construction of the Cycleway is due to start ‘late summer / early autumn’ and the cost will be entirely borne by TfL.
‘More congestion and air pollution’ says Leader of Conservative councillors
Cllr Gerald McGregor, leader of Chiswick’s Conservative councillors on Hounslow Council, says that the implementation of these changes is within the Council’s mandate but it is not a good idea.
He told The Chiswick Calendar there is already added congestion caused by the Council’s “wild and unsustainable” traffic management schemes, with “traffic backed up all the way to Askew Rd” because of the closure of Turnham Green Terrace.
“Buses will not be able to make progress down Chiswick High Rd and all this will add to the already high levels of air pollution.
“The council is not listening”, he says, to residents and the lack of enforcement of the recent measures in Turnham Green Terrace and Fishers Lane is making both Ealing and Hounslow councils look “ridiculous”.
“If you’re going to do it, then enforce it properly and responsibly”.
The councils are “hiding behind the Covid emergency”, he says, to introduce these traffic schemes.
Mark Frost’s statement references statutory guidance by Department for Transport on 9 May to local authorities instructing that changes be made to the network to accommodate social distancing and increased numbers of people walking and cycling and such changes be made ‘as swiftly as possible’.
It also cites the Mayor of London’s Streetspace programme and the inclusion of Cycleway 9 as part of his proposed ’emergency strategic cycle network’.
Traditional consultation process ‘broken’
Hounslow Cycling campaign told The Chiswick Calendar that the COVID emergency has made these plans more important than ever, given the reduction in public transport capacity.
They welcome the plans for the temporary protected cycle lane along Chiswick High Road, saying:
“The government expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians and the plans are aligned with this guidance. With more people now working from home, the protected cycle lane will enable people in the area to shop and eat locally on Chiswick High Road, and get some exercise at the same time.
“The temporary plans mean no loss of footway space, no impact upon trees and faster construction times so address concerns that some people had to the permanent Cycleway 9 design. It is now three years since the original Cycleway 9 consultation, a hugely unnecessary length of time for just a bike lane, demonstrating that the traditional consultation process is broken.