It’s all about the bus

Cllr Caroline ffiske, who represents Avonmore and Brook Green Ward, writes:IMG_1614

Hammersmith and Fulham Council are exploring options for running a bus service along Blythe Road, connecting Hammersmith Road and Shepherds Bush Road.  In an email to me yesterday, an LBHF officer wrote:

The outcome of the informal discussion with Councillor Harcourt yesterday is that we need to investigate the feasibility of a small, low frequency, preferably electric, bus service and the extent to which such a service could meet both the needs of the residents who have asked for a service and the concerns of those who are opposed to a service similar to the C1. This would include an assessment of how such a service could be funded and I anticipate that the investigations would take some time.

This is in response to a local resident-led petition which asks:

We, the undersigned, request that Hammersmith & Fulham Council consider introducing a bus route to link Hammersmith Road and Shepherds Bush Road via Blythe Road.  We believe it would benefit local residents and visitors.

The petition currently has above 100 signatures.

I’ll endeavour to keep local residents informed about the progress of the Council’s investigations and how they can feed into it.

I’d love to hear from residents who support a new bus service, to understand what the exact need is.  And I’ve been inundated with emails from residents who are against such a service.

To date, all of the residents who have contacted me, since becoming aware of this idea last week, are dismayed by the idea of a Blythe Road bus service.  The area surrounding Blythe Road is incredibly well served for transport links.  Here is an extract from one of the many emails I’ve received:

Here in the “Blythe Road area” we are in the middle of a multitude of public transport options with buses, tubes and overground trains: Kensington Olympia overground and tube station, Hammersmith Road bus stops, Hammersmith bus station and tube station, Shepherds Bush Road bus stops, Shepherds Bush Green bus stops, Shepherds Bush tube station and overground station.  

According to Google maps it takes 6 minutes to walk from the corner of Ceylon Road and Blythe Road to Shepherds Bush Road, 7 minutes to walk to the bus stop on the corner of Blythe Road and Hammersmith Road, 7 minutes to walk to Kensington Olympia, 12 minutes to walk to Hammersmith station and 15 minutes to walk to Shepherds Bush. 

Some residents have written to me to point out that say 6 or 7 minutes is too far for a minority of people with serious mobility problems.  So some have asked: what about our Dial-A-Ride service for these residents?  Or – in other words – if a small number of people have serious mobility issues, let’s absolutely look at that and address that directly.

Overwhelming then, to date, local residents are telling me, we don’t need a bus route along Blythe Road.

Well okay, what harm would it do?  Lots, they say.  Child and adult obesity are on the up.  People are not exercising enough.  We are all acutely aware of the problem of air pollution and fumes. The local area is already incredibly congested.   On Blythe Road there is a lovely quiet cluster of local shops.  The local cafes have seats out on the pavements – and people actually sit in them. Governments and Councils of every persuasion pay  “gurus” exhorbitant fees to tell them how to bring back local shops.  How to kill ’em off?  Belch past taking locals to the supermarket.

Here are some arguments I take the liberty of quoting from residents’ emails:

I know that Hammersmith & Fulham councillors are concerned about their residents’ health not least because right now the h&f website is leading with a piece on Health and Fitness. We all now know that we should try and take moderate exercise regularly.

I note that the average age of residents in these two wards is falling and its childhood obesity is rising to an alarming degree. So anything we can do to encourage people to walk or cycle more would be a worthwhile thing.” 

40 per cent of children in that ward are obese by the age of 11 – a heart-breaking statistic.

From a well being and health perspective the government and local councils are right in nudging us all to do more regular daily exercise.  NHS guidelines recommend 150 minutes a week – which is 30 mins a day of vigorous exercise a day. We all have to take personal responsibility for integrating more active things into our day.  Walking to local shops or walking to existing bus stops and tube stations is a simple way of achieving this and should be encouraged by the council.

The health of the newer cafes with tables outside on Blythe Road and the local shops, all of which will take a knock in trade if we make it even easier for locals to go to the supermarket instead.

One small van can cause gridlock round here when it unloads deliveries.

The key problem we suffer from is congestion of large vehicles on small roads – we really don’t need another bus route down a road that is not large enough. There is enough competition for space between road users and cyclists.

Should a bus route be introduced, it would it would impose further traffic onto a road that is already struggling to accommodate the excessive amount of congestion and be an unwelcome hindrance to the children crossing the road every day on their way to the many neighbourhood schools.

The area is full of families with children, bicycles and a generally busy pedestrian life which thrives at reducing the carbon footprint through the use of local schools, shops and other facilities. 

Finally, a major concern for residents is that a tootly little bus route does not take long to become a bigger faster bus route.  Ever driven round the Hammersmith Gyratory anyone?  From a resident:

I think any sort of bus route is a step too far – too short a gap then for TfL to say that since there’s already a route, they’re going to send down big diesel buses in order to avoid Hammersmith Broadway.

I’ve heard this argument from a number of residents: – that a bus route is a bus route – and you can’t stop it from becoming something very different to what you asked for.  I’ll look into this.

And I’ll try to keep residents informed about the wider process, which all agree, needs to be fair, reasoned, and transparent.  Meanwhile, do please be in touch with your views (caroline.ffiske@lbhf.gov.uk).

 

 

 

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