Full text of the letter from a group of Chiswick residents to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, 28 September 2020

Letter published in response to Chiswick’s Conservative councillers’ own letter to the minister about the traffic changes introduced in Chiswick in the summer of 2020.

Support for Government Cycling and Walking Policies from Chiswick Residents

25th September 2020

To: The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport
Copy: Steve Curran, Leader Hounslow Council, Hanif Khan, Hounslow Council Cabinet Member, Dr Will Norman, Mayor of London Walking and Cycling Commissioner

Dear Secretary of State,

We would like to offer our strong support for the policies you have announced to put walking and cycling at the heart of transport. We also wish to respond to the open letter sent to you by some of our local councillors earlier this month “The destruction of Chiswick’s community, town centre and retail economy.”

A number of us have been in the front line of public health efforts against the pandemic and welcomed the statement you made on May 9 announcing a £2 billion package to support active travel to help the country emerge from the coronavirus crisis. Given the predicted upsurge in traffic and the virus, the reallocation of road space in favour of walking and cycling is even more necessary now.

Our council (London Borough of Hounslow) has implemented measures exactly in line with your guidelines: pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements, cycle and bus-only streets and modal filters to create low traffic neighbourhoods. We are therefore disappointed that some of our local councillors have failed to back your vision, opposing the measures from our council that are making it a reality.

We are also concerned that their letter misrepresents the situation in Chiswick.

● They claim a Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme is “a massive over reaction (sic) to a problem that exists for only a few hours a day”. Traffic counts show the opposite, with many of our residential streets blighted by rat-running through the day.

● Their reference to the “revival of the discredited Cycleway-9 scheme” concerns a protected bike route that was initiated by the Prime Minister while he was Mayor of London. Construction of the first phase has just been completed and it is now being expedited using temporary measures. Safer cycling on Chiswick High Road is more important than ever given the shift to shopping locally.

● “A hammer-blow to Chiswick’s retail businesses” fails to convey that the shift to shopping locally has triggered a local boom. Shops that were long empty are finally being let. The first ever Flower Market on Chiswick High Road two weeks ago saw over 7,000 visitors with our shopkeepers enjoying their highest sales for years. Notably, an overflow car park was provided for this event but not a single car used it. Traders on two more roads have asked the Flower Market team of local residents to expand to their streets.

We welcome the opportunity to affirm our strongest support for your vision, and the measures needed to realise it by reallocating road space to people walking and cycling, both to encourage active travel and to enable social distancing.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Edward Seaton, DM FRCP, Consultant Dermatologist, London
Professor Jeremy Levy, Professor of Medicine, Imperial College London
Dr Mark Esler FRCA, Consultant Anaesthestist, Imperial College NHS Trust
Kate Frayling, Physics Teacher, Local School
Dr David Game PhD FRCP, Consultant Renal Physician, London
Andrew Hurn, Parent Governor, Cavendish Primary School, Chiswick
Dr Sheila Hunt, General Practitioner (within LTN area), retd.
Dr Radegund Norbury MRCGP, General Practitioner, London
Dr Tran Seaton FRCR, Consultant Radiologist, Imperial College NHS Trust
Dr Anna Wilson MRCGP, General Practitioner, London
Dr Karen Liebreich MBE, Author, Director Abundance London
Peter Murray, Architect, Chair Bedford Park Bicycle Club
Professor Tom Pike, Professor of Microengineering, Imperial College London
Christopher Richardson, Architect
Michael Robinson, M.Eng C.Eng MIET, Engineer
Christopher Blishen, Business Mentor
Paul Campbell, Managing Director, Consulting Business
Andrea Carnavali, Filmmaker
Keith Dickson, Emeritus Professor of Technology Management, Brunel University