Cllr Caroline ffiske writes
Residents in Avonmore & Brook Green have expressed concerns about the results of the TfL CS9 consultation – found here. With 59% of respondents supporting the scheme it appears to be a slam-dunk to go ahead.
Yet this does not resonate with local feeling about the scheme where supporters seem to be few in number. So where do we go from here? There are number of things that could and should happen quickly:
H&F Council needs to publish the results of its consultation on CS9
Anyone who follows politics in H&F will know that the Labour administration claims to do thing “with” residents, not “to” them. In November last year the Council agreed to accept residents’ comments on the cycle superhighway. This year, in late January, it held a “PAC” meeting which looked at the CS9 scheme and which the public could attend. The report tabled is here.
Despite the huge interest in this matter, the report provided no information whatsoever on the results of the H&F consultation. This is not doing things “with” residents – this is keeping information “from” them. It would have been entirely possible in late January to make public the headline results from the local consultation. It would be even more possible to do so now. This should happen quickly.
TfL needs to publish its consultation results at a more granular level
Firstly, we need to see the responses broken down by postcode. Within Hammersmith, CS9 would run through W14 and W6. Only 18% of the respondents were from those areas – about 660 respondents. (This leaves out those who did not identify their postcode.) TfL should make visible the results broken down by postcode so we can see what people who live near the proposed route think of the scheme.
Secondly, we need to see the responses broken down by those who cycle and those who don’t. 65% of the respondents to the consultation said that they cycle. This is against the fact that fewer than 5% of all road users are cyclists. This is therefore a hugely biased response, and all credit to the cyclists for responding. But TfL needs to weight the responses so that they are proportional to the road user population – and then make that analysis publicly available.
H&F need to make public some of the more detailed objections to the scheme
I have found in Avonmore & Brook Green, that most people would like to see more cyclists on the roads and fewer cars; less congestion and cleaner air. Who wouldn’t? But when I meet people who have studied CS9 closely, they usually have grave concerns. This includes many cyclists.
I quote someone (not an ABG resident) here below. I want to see H&F’s and TfL’s responses to concerns like this:
…It must be understood that a design of this nature is unprecedented in this country. There are very few examples of two-way cycle tracks with priority over turning motor traffic, and even fewer on two-way streets with frequent side road junctions. There have been schemes on one-way roads, where junctions and turning movements are simpler … but these have suffered the safety problems experienced in other countries. There are also one or two examples of substandard junctions on the recent Cycle Superhighways in London, but generally at very quiet side roads, and certainly nowhere near the 28 side roads on the CS9 two-way track proposed for Chiswick High Road and King Street.
… I strongly urge the Council to work with TfL to re-explore the possibilities of one-way tracks on either side of the road, that are more carriageway based, possibly with light segregation from motor traffic. This is likely to be the only real way of resolving side road junction safety. The alternative is to introduce five metre long waiting areas between the cycle track and road at each junction and to ensure good visibility particularly of “wrong way” cyclists by drivers emerging from side roads. Given that this entails finding at least an additional 4-5 metres road width at each side road junction, it is unlikely to be feasible and is in any case only a mitigating measure, with some risk remaining. It also does not deal with issues of pedestrians being able to safely and intuitively cross the track on these busy high roads.
If a two-way scheme is to be progressed, I strongly urge the Council to insist that TfL fully explain why the public consultation design diverges from their own safety standards and provide a full safety analysis and risk assessment prior to any further design work. … This is particularly pertinent on King Street because over 90% of cycling collisions occur at or very close to the junctions.
Surely one of the reasons why the consultation “does not resonate with local feeling about the scheme” is the way in which its report fails to balance individual responses with those from local interest groups.
Of the 27 local interest groups which responded to the consultation, 24 were opposed or strongly opposed to the proposal.
If you are a member of a residents association or other local interest group, and you understand that your group’s response echoes your own, then you will surely feel no need to make a further, individual response.
TfL seem to have had no regard to the number of individual local residents and businesses represented by each of those groups – and hence the imbalance in the response figures.
I am going to make a related point to Paul’s. The problem with this method of counting votes in a consultation is that it makes no allowance for the degree of standing in the matter a respondent has.
So the vote of a shopkeeper on the affected highway, whose entire livelihood may be threatened, counts equally with a cycle enthusiast living in another part of the capital who may never actually use CS9 but just likes the idea of it.
This cannot be right or just. But more importantly, by treating the consultation response as a simple one-person-one-vote plebiscite, you risk making the wrong choice, and that is a big and real risk here.
I am very keen on CS9 but the Tory mood music is deeply negative when, in fact, you are (if I understand the argument) merely quibbling over whether the two bike lanes are on the same or opposite sides of the road. The best parallel for the latter is Green Lanes where residents and retailers were also goaded in to objecting to the scheme. Now, takings are up, pollution down and folk are happy to live in a place where the balance between cars and people is reset.
Whilst encouraging cycling sounds good, the details of the plan to build a cycle superhighway from Olympia to Hounslow, through Hammersmith, Chiswick and Brentford are very bad, for the following reasons.
Unfair to 95% of road-users
Giving a very large proportion of road space to a tiny minority (less than 5%) of road users, many of whom don’t even need it, in a way it can’t be used by others, is not fair and not sensible.
The current proposals will make roads that now carry two lanes of traffic single file and will place bus stops bang in the middle of the new single file road! Single file traffic in both directions, with bus lanes eliminated, is bound to lead to crawling speeds and gridlock. Even TfL’s own models predict congestion and severely increased journey times, for everyone, including bus passengers.
Discrimination against the less able
The plan discriminates against all other road users, including pedestrians who will suffer from narrower pavements and difficulty accessing numerous bus stops on the far side of the cycle track.
TFL says that it will fulfil its obligations under the Equality Act but the elderly, the disabled, expectant mothers, mothers with small children, shoppers with more than a small bag, those not able to ride a bike and all other road users except for cyclists, will be disadvantaged if CS9 goes ahead.
As crawling traffic is more polluting than flowing traffic, the scheme will likely damage the environment.
Inefficient use of road space
Judging by other parts of London where there are similar schemes, for most of the day, traffic is jammed whist the cycle highways are empty and unusable by anyone else. That is self-evidently extremely bad management of precious road space.
Tragic unintended consequences
There will be some tragic unintended consequences, for example when emergency vehicles are inevitably delayed, leaving victims of incidents, who need the urgent assistance of the emergency services, stranded without help, in their moment of greatest need.
Finally, one has to question the competence of Transport for London (TfL) which is proposing this flawed scheme and here’s why. If you look at official statistics for traffic in London’s boroughs (www.dft.gov.uk/traffic-counts/area.php?region=London), you will see that in nearly all of them (and particularly those closer to the centre of town), traffic, as measured by vehicle miles driven, is on a long-term decline. For example, traffic in Westminster in 2016 is 20% less than it was in 2000. In such circumstances, the traffic should be flowing better and average speeds should be higher but they are not. The average speeds on the roads are getting ever slower. The problem is NOT (as TfL would have us believe) the traffic; it is the MANAGEMENT of the traffic, or more correctly, the MISMANAGEMENT of the traffic. And who is responsible for managing the traffic? Transport for London! So, if ever there were evidence that TfL is not interested in delivering the best possible experience for the majority of road users and it does not worry about creating congestion, this is it.
I’m not sure where the figure that cyclists are less than 5% of traffic comes from. Based on the DfT counts it is 10-15% on the Avonmore stretch of the A315 – and this is based on 2010 data.
How many more might cycle on the route if it was safer?
The consultation responses to CS9 have indeed been biased by lobbying/campaigning by cyclists. See my analysis here which gives the source of the data on cyclists numbers: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/cycle-superhighway-9-consultation-results-biased-by-cyclists/ . I have complained to TfL about this with no result, but the same thing has happened on the consultation on CS4 which has recently been published.
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One problem is that cycling lobby groups don’t just want improved conditions for cyclists, they want motorists to be actively penalised at the same time – hence they actively welcome the longer traffic waiting times that will result in Fulham Palace Road. That and their persistent flouting of all traffic rules (for example ignoring red lights at pedestrian crossings and riding the wrong way down one-way streets) makes me disinclined to support schemes to improve their lot. They are an elite who get a disproportionate amount of public spending and it makes them disliked.