Myths, mistakes and misleading people: the last chance of the Chiswick councillors

Unfortunately the Chiswick councillors continue to oppose Cycleway 9 while being unable to propose any viable alternatives that would achieve the benefits of the proposed plans.

Their leaflet and press release contain many myths and mistakes and it is highly disappointing they are continuing to mislead the public, who deserve better from their elected representatives.

Here are the flaws in what they are saying – and what they aren’t saying.

What the councillors say
The reality
“devastating plans”A bike lane.
“cycle superhighway”A bike lane with a kerb to protect people from motor vehicles.
“A fast through route along the A4”Detailed information from TfL why the A4 is a worse choice of route (section Route Alignment and Connectivity)
“A local cycling scheme that brings our community together”The councillors have failed to provide any proposals to enable safer cycling along Chiswick High Road.

They provided no input on a "local cycling scheme" for the Borough Transport Strategy.

They did not support a borough Liveable Neighbourhoods bid (Chiswick has subsequently been awarded funding despite this).
“TfL has ignored the clearly expressed views of the residents of Chiswick”TfL has produced responses for the initial and follow-up consultations responding to the views of residents (194 pages in total)
“Seriously damage the viability of Chiswick’s shops and businesses”Bike Myth Number 4.

“Remove the street’s highly prized wide pavements”After CW9 Chiswick High Road will still have the maximum score for walking space in the Healthy Streets scorecard. (Peak pedestrian flows on S side of CHR are <600 per hour)
“Significantly increase traffic congestion and journey times”TfL traffic modelling predicts a reduction in most journey times.

“Reduce this busy road to a single carriage-way at points”Chiswick High Road is already single carriage-way at points.

“Destroy much loved mature trees”Plans are to remove four trees and plant nine trees for a net gain of five trees. One tree has already been removed because its roots fractured a water main.
“Fail to address air quality on London’s most polluted roads”The Chiswick councillors previously claimed that TfL figures showed pollution would increase. This was factually incorrect.

The Chiswick councillors now claim that CW9 “fails to address” air quality. This claim is based upon data in a TfL air pollution report showing no significant change in pollution.

It is important to note the TfL air pollution report assumes no change in how people will travel in order to establish a baseline for comparison. It is a pollution modelling report, not a report forecasting how people’s journeys may change with the new cycle route.

Anyone cycling instead of taking a polluting mode of transport will be helping to address air pollution and we hope the Chiswick councillors will encourage this.

See also Bike Myth Number 1.
“Force pedestrians to cross a high speed two way cycle route”Bike Myth Number 5.

“Drive more traffic onto Chiswick High Road because of road closures”The CW9 plans propose closing Wellesley Road and Stile Hall Gardens to west bound motor traffic.

These streets are afflicted by rat-running traffic and a closure is supported by the majority of residents on these streets.

It appears the Chiswick councillors believe that traffic driving through the area should be using these residential streets instead of main roads like Chiswick High Road and the A4.

The Chiswick councillors have proposed no viable solutions to address residents’ issues with traffic.

“Remove essential parking spaces used by shoppers and businesses”TfL report on surveys of shopping and parking.

“Create a frustrating stop/start route for commuter cyclists”The councillors state that the route will be both “stop/start” and “high speed”. This is contradictory.

CW9 has priority over all side roads (except signalled junctions) and some traffic lights for motor traffic won’t apply to the cycle lane.

Chiswick High Road is already by far and away the most used cycling route in the area and CW9 will make it even more popular.
“Traffic gridlock for up to two years during construction”The councillors should look for ways to support local businesses during construction, such as rates relief.

In addition to what the Chiswick councillors say about cycling, it is perhaps more revealing what they don’t say.

What the councillors don’t say
The councillors don’t say if they are concerned about the current high level of cyclists casualties along Chiswick High Road and they haven't produced any proposals to address this.

The councillors don’t say if they are concerned about climate change and the future of the planet and what their proposals are to enable more zero carbon transport.
The councillors don’t say why Chiswick shops have already been closing at a rate of over one per month. It isn’t because of a bike lane that hasn’t been built yet.
The councillors don’t say what their proposals are to enable healthier choices for people travelling.
The councillors don’t say that pollution has decreased along existing cycle routes.
The councillors don’t say anything positive about the benefits of enabling more people to travel safely on bikes.

Nothing about taking kids to school, getting more people shopping locally, getting fitter while commuting to work or other benefits.

Considering all the issues they could address, it is highly disappointing that the Chiswick councillors are spending so much time and effort just to try and stop a bike lane.

Reference – Ten common myths about bike lanes – and why they’re wrong

  1. Cycle lanes increase congestion (and thus pollution)
  2. Hardly anyone uses them
  3. They’re only used by white, middle-class men/commuters
  4. They’re bad for business
  5. They’re dangerous for pedestrians
  6. Cyclists just break laws, so they shouldn’t get lanes
  7. How do I carry work tools/a fridge on a bike?
  8. We’re not the Netherlands/Denmark
  9. They cost too much
  10. There’s no need

Also see a point-by-point rebuttal of their press release.

9 July 2019