Image above: TfL Overview map of Cycleway 9 Streetspace scheme
Transport for London has announced it would like to make changes to the part of Cycleway 9 which comes through Chiswick High Rd, as a result of consultation with people who have contacted them.
Amongst other improvements, they now plan to add bus shelters at stops along the High Rd and to introduce more places for taxis and other vehicles to pick up and drop off passengers. It will be up to LB Hounslow to decide whether these changes will go ahead and whether they should be delivered as part of a new trial.
Conversations with Transport for London
People with an interest in Cycleway 9, who had previously contacted TfL about Cycleway 9, were invited to take part in 15 minute, one on one conversations using Microsoft Teams in February. They invited 655 people to apply for an interview slot, of whom 48 were successful. The sessions were recorded so that TfL could:
‘Listen to the views of the community about the scheme. Gain useful feedback which could help us make short-term improvements to the scheme and gain insight which could influence the potential long-term future of the scheme’.
TfL say the exercise was not intended:
‘to act as, or substitute for, a public consultation, or to act as a referendum or provide definitive decision-making guidance on the potential long-term future of the scheme’.
Changes to be made as a result
‘Listening to local people through these Community Conversations provided a valuable source of local insight and feedback, some of which has already resulted in positive changes to the scheme’ say TfL.
These are the changes they plan to make:
Junction of Chiswick Lane and Chiswick High Road
Reinstate a left-turn filter lane to improve traffic flow and bus journey times
Between Holmfield Road and Netheravon Road
Introduce an eastbound bus lane to improve bus journey times
Between Airedale Avenue and Netheravon Road
Introduce a westbound bus lane to improve bus journey times
Between Chiswick Lane and Heathfield Terrace
Install bus shelters at bus stops
Between Chiswick Lane and Heathfield Terrace
Introduce more places for taxis and other vehicles to pick up and drop off passengers
TfL consulted on proposals for a permanent version of Cycleway 9 in 2017. It was signed off by Hounslow Council in September 2019. Before that could be constructed the pandemic hit, the Government gave local councils emergency powers to install Streetspace schemes and TfL installed a temporary version of the cycle lane, which differs in several respects from the planned version. OneChiswick Ltd are challenging this decision in a Judicial Review which is expected to be heard in the autumn.
Image above: Cycleway 9 in Chiswick High Rd; photograph James Willcocks
Positive feedback on Cycleway 9
TfL has given a summary of the ‘positive’ feedback they received in these 48 conversations and also a summary of the ‘constructive’ feedback. The key themes of supportive comments made were:
- Cycleway 9 has encouraged me to take up cycling for the first time, or start up again
- Cycleway 9 is safe for children and families to use
- General support for our Active Travel programme
- General support for the scheme and want to see it made permanent
- General support for the scheme with enhancements suggested
- Believe many people are supportive of the scheme but are drowned out by those who are opposed
Constructive feedback on Cycleway 9
Choosing to characterise issues of concern raised as ‘constructive’ rather than ‘negative’ feedback, TfL summarise the key themes of constructive comments as:
- Cycleway 9 has made congestion and air quality worse
- I’m worried about the impact on emergency services
- Cycle track is too slow due to there being too many side roads and traffic signals
- Turnham Green Terrace junction layout is confusing for motorists
- Goldhawk Road junction layout is dangerous for cyclists
- General snagging issues (e.g., drainage issues, defunct road markings still visible, signage not visible enough)
- Buses are less attractive now (bus-stop bypasses confusing and unsafe, longer journey times, lack of shelters)
TfL Responses to issues raised
Their response to each of these issues is:
Cycleway 9 has made congestion and air quality worse
We acknowledge during the construction of the scheme – which completed just before Christmas 2020 – that journey times along Chiswick High Road were temporarily impacted. However, changes to traffic flow in the area were caused by a combination of the construction of the scheme and additional works being undertaken by utility companies, including emergency works by Thames Water.
A road’s capacity is a combination of available road space and the amount of time given to vehicles at signalised junctions to progress. We have now installed our adaptive traffic light system – known as Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique (SCOOT) – at the junctions along this stretch of road. SCOOT uses detectors in the road’s surface to optimise the flow of junctions in real-time based on the number of vehicles detected on each approach to the junctions. When a greater volume of vehicles is detected on a particular approach, SCOOT automatically increases the amount of green signal time that approach receives. Similarly, when fewer vehicles are detected on a particular approach, SCOOT reduces the amount of green time this approach receives.
In spring 2021, we completed a review of all the signals operating on the SCOOT system along Chiswick High Road. As a result, we made some tweaks, including giving traffic on Chiswick High Road more green signal time than on some side roads. We will continue to closely monitor this.
Road vehicles like cars and vans cause around half of London’s air pollution. The choices people make about how they travel, such as using public transport or turning off car engines while stationary, affect the safety of the air we all breathe. That is why we are doing all we can to encourage more people to choose walking and cycling over driving. Encouraging this mode shift will help us to clean up London’s air.
More information about how TfL and the Mayor of London are working to reduce the impact of polluting road vehicles can be found at: tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/air-quality
I’m worried about the impact on emergency services
The cycle track is designed to be wide enough for all emergency service vehicles to use it if necessary. We are aware that there have already been occasions since the track opened when they have done so safely. We continue to liaise with emergency services at regular meetings held with TfL and will respond to any concerns raised directly by them.
Cycle track is too slow due to there being too many side roads and traffic signals
Despite the provision of a segregated track some people may still choose to cycle in the road. The cycle track is not mandatory nor is it designed for speed. It is designed for safety.
No new signalised junctions have been added as part of the scheme. We have only modified existing junctions as proposed in design for the permanent scheme, which was consulted on in 2017 and 2019.
All junctions with traffic signals are needed for safety purposes. Their operation has been designed to ensure people in the cycle track can travel across the junction in their own time and space without the risk of conflict with other vehicles. Providing this significant benefit requires us to balance the needs of all road users when designing junctions. This means it may not be possible to provide more green signal time for specific traffic movements without negatively impacting on other road users.
Turnham Green Terrace junction layout is confusing for motorists
Additional signage has been provided and a cycle logo installed on the bollard to make it clearer to drivers that the track is only for cyclists’ use.
Goldhawk Road junction layout is dangerous for cyclists
When cyclists receive a green signal, they cross this junction in their own stage completely separate from all other vehicles. This allows them to safely make all turning movements without the risk of conflict. The amount of green signal time given to cyclists has recently been increased.
Guidance markings and signage are provided to help cyclists crossing the junction eastbound to safely merge back into the road (note: this is where the London Borough of Hounslow scheme ends and the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham scheme starts).
The above is a temporary arrangement. The issues at this junction will be alleviated when London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham’s section of Cycleway 9 is built.
General snagging issues (e.g., drainage issues, defunct road markings still visible, signage not visible enough)
These will be picked up as part of the ongoing snagging work. Some of this will also be picked up as part of the TfL Road Safety Audit process.
Buses are less attractive now (bus-stop bypasses confusing and unsafe, longer journey times, lack of shelters)
Bus stop bypasses
Bus stop bypasses have been introduced to allow cycle tracks to be continuous, without cyclists needing to move into the path of general traffic.
They are in place at several locations across London. While they can take a little getting used to they have been shown to work successfully and safely. When bus stop bypasses were first introduced in 2014 they did raise concerns from older and disabled people’s organisations. In response we assembled a working group with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, Guide Dogs, Transport for All, Age UK London and the London Cycling Campaign. As part of that group we commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to conduct research to understand how people walking and cycling interact with each other, the comfort of disabled people using bus stop bypasses, and to test alternative designs.
Following the research, we agreed to install mini zebra crossings at all bus stop bypasses to make it clear that people walking across the cycle lane to access the bus stop have priority. Zebra crossings are present at all bus stop bypasses on Cycleway 9.
While older and disabled people’s organisations do still have some concerns, they also understand the need for them as they support safer cycling. The TRL research showed that people walking and cycling do safely navigate each other, and that they slow down and make changes to ensure collisions do not happen.
During the build of Cycleway 9 along Chiswick HighRoad, from September – December 2020, there were increases in eastbound and westbound bus journey times. This was caused by a combination of lane restrictions and junctions being on temporary traffic lights to facilitate the works. When the highest increases to bus journey times occurred, there were up to four junctions along Chiswick High Road operating on temporary traffic lights at the same time.
Since we completed the build in December 2020 bus journey times have generally been above prescheme levels. This is down to three factors: the loss of bus lanes along Chiswick High Road, the fact that many of the new traffic signals now also service dedicated signal-controlled cyclist movements, and the lack of our adaptive traffic light system SCOOT which optimises the traffic signals based on real time vehicle demand.
In addition, since the start of 2021, there have been various emergency and utility works in the area.
Through our recent review of the traffic signal timings along Chiswick High Road we have installed SCOOT and implemented Bus Priority at four key junctions. This work was completed in late-May. Initial data appears to show that both eastbound and westbound bus journey times along Chiswick High Road improved throughout May, even while we were still in the process of making timing changes to the traffic lights.
At the time of writing (2 July) SCOOT has also yet to be installed at the Turnham Green Terrace junction, which may be negatively impacting bus journey times through this junction. Once SCOOT is installed at this junction, we anticipate journey times will improve further.
We are proposing to install bus shelters as part of the next phase of works on the scheme.
Image above: Cycleway 9 in Chiswick High Rd, showing bus island; photograph James Willcocks
TfL says it believes the best way forward is to make these changes as part of a new trial:
‘This would allow us to test the effects they have as London continues to recover from the pandemic. It would also enable us to hold a public consultation, giving the local community the opportunity to tell us their experiences of the new trial scheme and help shape its future’.
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