Councils playing for time over flawed “cycle superhighway” plan

Controversy continues over the flawed plans from Transport for London for a “Cycle Superhighway” from Olympia to Brentford. The Hammersmith Society has come out against the scheme. There are a range of objectors – motorists concerned about traffic congestion being made worse, bus users (especially the elderly and disabled) who would find getting to a bus stop hazardous. Local churches and shops worry that it would be harder for people to visit them. There are also objections from slower, gentler cyclists who find the idea of “cycle superhighway” rather intimidating.  The £70 million could be better spent in ways that provide genuine cycling improvements without harming others.

So there is no surprise that opposition is considerable. In order to proceed Transport for London would need permission from both Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Both councils seem to be dithering.

Hounslow Council says  “reservations have been raised about some elements by significant numbers of people, particularly around proposals for Chiswick High Road.” It adds:

“TfL is currently analysing responses to the consultation and considering in detail the issues raised.  Although we await the final report, it is evident that some elements of the scheme will need to be revised for it to be acceptable to our residents and businesses.

These include, for example:

  • A review of options to reduce the impact on the southern footway of Chiswick High Road for pedestrians, particularly outside the Our Lady of Grace church;
  • Access arrangements for some side roads off Chiswick High Road;
  • Loading provisions for businesses along the high road;
  • Consideration to wider parking and traffic management measures if the scheme is implemented to deal with likely knock on impacts from the scheme.

In order to ensure that TfL and the council have time to analyse and interpret the huge response received, and give consideration to all the issues raised, a decision on the revised scheme will not be taken until the summer, when the newly elected administration will review the revised scheme and determine the council’s position on it.”

In a report Hammersmith and Fulham Council says in a report to a meeting taking place on January 29th:

“TfL is currently analysing responses to their consultation and considering in detail the issues raised. 1.5. The council submitted to TfL initial technical comments on the proposed route and continues to collect the views of its residents and business owners along the route.

Hammersmith and Fulham council is the Highways Authority for the roads used for this route in the borough, and a decision to allow any scheme to be implemented lies with the Cabinet.

The Cabinet will make a final decision over whether or not the proposed scheme is to be allowed after considering all the responses from its Residents and Businesses and any revised changes proposed by TfL.”

It adds:

“The council will ensure that the views and opinions of its residents and businesses are carefully considered in the development of any proposed scheme, to enable the administration to review any revised scheme and determine the council’s position on it.”

Come off it.

The TfL consultation closed on October 31st. How long does “analysing responses” take? Surely they would managed to come up with an initial tally of how support and opposition there is by now.

I understood the Hammersmith and Fulham Council report to the meeting on January 29th was going to tells us the level of support for the scheme both from responses to TfL and later responses to the Council.

There are five rules of Dodgeball – “Dodge, duck, dip, dive and…dodge.”

Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham councils don’t wish to defy the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Nor do they want to defy their residents – at least not before May 3rd. Thus they are keen to avoid taking an unpopular decision – until after the local elections.

The difficulty for these councils in not that the consultation responses are inconclusive. It is that the message is loud and clear – that the CS9 scheme is not wanted. So a few tinkering changes are proposed and until May their great rallying cry will be that they and TfL are currently analysing responses”.

What should the response be? To keep up the opposition. Urge all those who haven’t yet done so to sign the petition.

6 thoughts on “Councils playing for time over flawed “cycle superhighway” plan

  1. More misinformation from an opponent of the scheme.

    The consultation response isn’t just “analysing responses”, it it? It is also addressing genuine issues raised in the consultation and coming up with solutions, which may mean redesigning aspects of the scheme, re-running traffic modelling and so on. That is the whole point of a consultation, isn’t it?

    The people who do the technical work are skilled resources and are in demand for lots of projects.

    Also, the process of “analysing responses” means identifying genuine issues from the large number of responses containing crap, misinformation, errors, misconceptions and hyperbole as a result of the “project fear” tactics adopted by some.

    Then, once TfL issue their report, borough officers then need to go through the borough’s own processes of review before decisions are made – this in itself will likely take at least a month. My understanding is that TfL simply ran out of time to get the information to the boroughs so they could make a decision before everything shuts down for the May elections. Realistically, the last month the borough could make a decision was February (in Hounslow this was cabinet on 6 Feb) as nobody will make a major decision in the final month.

    So timescales on a major engineering project were understimated and the project slips. Disappointing, but hardly the first time that has happened, is it?

    I’d wait and see what the consultation results are before judging the scheme is unpopular. In my experience, supporters of the scheme just supported it without making a big song and dance.

    It is a consultation, not a referendum, People replying with “more harm than the Luftwaffe” like responses will be placed on the “nutjob” pile.

    • I think it’s actually less complicated than this. There is overwhelming opposition to the scheme in its current form. That is a problem for a council that spends a lot of money on consultations and prides itself on listening to residents and putting them first, unless they come up with an ideologically incorrect answer.

      • Except I’ve heard that there isn’t overwhelming opposition – a majority of responses were in favour.

  2. I am visually impaired, Since the bike lane has been introduced at the Elephant and Castle and Blackfriers road, I and my Blind friends can no longer access the buses. The bus stops are in the middle of the road. It is impossible for us and some elderly people to navigate the bike lane safely. After much campaigning TFL refuse to recognise the problem.

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