Two thirds of respondents to TfL consultation call for changes to Cycleway 9

Image above: a bus stop island next to Cycleway 9 on Chiswick High Road; library image

Despite the negative feedback, report concludes the cycleway has not led to a measurable deterioration in road safety

In a recent consultation Transport for London (TfL) about Chiswick High Road’s cycle lane, Cycleway 9, a clear message has emerged – two-thirds of respondents believe that the cycleway has had a negative impact overall, and 69% of them are calling for changes to the existing scheme.

The consultation, which ran from October 4, 2022, to April 3, 2023, received substantial participation, with over 5,292 individuals and 18 stakeholder groups offering their input. Of the those who took part, 78% of the respondents described themselves as local residents.

The predominant sentiment expressed in the survey was that changes were needed to address concerns raised by residents. These concerns ranged from safety issues to effects on traffic flow and accessibility.

Residents’ concerns have prompted TfL to release a ‘Monitoring Report’ alongside the consultation results, which assesses the impact of the cycleway on traffic, bus times, and road safety.

The report concludes the cycleway has not led to a measurable deterioration in road safety and has significantly increased the number of ‘cycle kilometres’ on the High Road.

Image above: Overall opinions about the Cycleway; TfL

Marked increase in cycling on Chiswick High Road but concerns raised about safety

One of the key findings from the survey is the shift in transportation habits among respondents. Notably, 31% stated that they cycle more, while 26% cycle less since the cycleway’s introduction.

Walking emerged as the primary mode of transport for 34% of respondents, followed by cycling at 30%. In contrast, only 20% used personal cars for their trips, with only 11% relying on buses for transportation.

Automatic monitoring cameras installed in 2021 indicate a 23% increase in cyclists using the new cycle lane from spring 2019 to spring 2022. Additionally, ‘cycle kilometres’ have seen a remarkable 47% increase between 2021 and 2023, reflecting the growing popularity of cycling in the area.

While the increase in cycling is positive, concerns about safety persist. The survey revealed that 60% of respondents feel less safe when walking or cycling on the High Road than before. Pedestrian safety, especially at bus stop by-passes, and concerns about dangerous cycling behaviours, such as speeding and ignoring traffic lights, are prominent issues.

Age Concern Chiswick voiced concerns about the safety of older people, stating that “cyclists often do not stop for pedestrians”. Those who are visually impaired also face difficulties accessing bus services due to the bus stop by-passes, affecting their ability to cross cycle lanes safely.

Image above: Cycleway 9; library image

Bedford Park Bicycle Club calls for more signage

Bedford Park Bicycle Club praised the cycleway as an “excellent improvement.”. They suggested adding permanent signage to instruct motorists to look both ways at junctions that cross the cycle lane, indicating that some residents are satisfied with the changes.

The TfL Monitoring Report also shed light on the impact on collisions involving cyclists. While it is too early to draw definitive conclusions, the report suggests that the number of such collisions has decreased since safety upgrades to the cycleway were implemented.

The data indicated that most serious collisions occurred on the King Street section, particularly near Weltje Road, which is not covered in the report. TfL remains cautiously optimistic about the positive trend but acknowledges the need for further data collection.

The report continues:

“We’ve looked at whether there have been any collisions between pedestrians and cyclists on Chiswick High Road since the scheme was originally introduced in December 2020. There has only been one collision recorded that involved a pedestrian and a cyclist and this happened while we were building improvements to the scheme, and when the cycle lane (and therefore the bus stop bypass) was closed. There have been no pedestrian collisions recorded since the full improvements were completed.”.

Images above: Average weekday journey times between 2019 and 2023 (click to enlarge); TfL

Complaints about congestion

Congestion emerged as a significant concern for respondents, with 74% stating that it has increased since the cycleway’s introduction. Only 10% felt that traffic was flowing more freely.

Additionally, the Monitoring Report included data on bus times, indicating that performance had deteriorated, particularly in the eastbound direction on the High Road and northbound on Chiswick Lane. In a recent example, signage at Hammersmith bus station has warned commuters travelling through Chiswick on buses of lengthy delays because of the congestion on the High Road. TfL acknowledges the need for further improvements to ensure reliable bus services.

Regarding the bus gate by Acton Lane, the report states that buses gain an average of 10 seconds every time they use it. Traffic volumes on various adjacent roads also showed no significant changes since 2019.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association expressed concerns that many of its members actively avoid Chiswick High Road due to increased difficulty and stress in their work.

In terms of environmental impact, 18% believed that air quality had improved, while half of respondents felt air pollution had worsened. 55% said they believed noise pollution had increased.

For local businesses, 53% believed that the impact of Cycleway 9 was negative, with only 10% reporting a boost in revenues. Businesses also faced challenges with deliveries and parking, with 44% finding deliveries more difficult and 45% hearing from customers about increased parking difficulties.

The decision on the permanent future of Cycleway 9 lies with Hounslow Council, which will consider the consultation feedback and monitoring data supplied by TfL.

TfL has committed to addressing detailed comments from the consultation in a subsequent report.