Hounslow Cycling wholeheartedly supports the Streetspace vision, we are heartened by the success of the majority of the schemes and we appreciate the efforts of all those who have helped to deliver the programme in such difficult circumstances. We intend to provide a considered response on all schemes in due course. We understand that Cabinet intends to make an early decision on Turnham Green Terrace so submit this interim response addressing that particular scheme.
We recognise that there are issues with the Turnham Green Terrace design and can understand why Cabinet might wish to make an early decision. We are, however, concerned that the decision will be based on “who shouts loudest” rather than evidence.
Responses to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and Cycle Lanes follow a well-established pattern. They attract noisy opposition in the early stages from motorists whose journeys are disrupted during the roadworks and the period that follows as travel patterns shake down. A groundswell of positive opinion then grows as the benefits become apparent to residents generally. That support tends to be quiet but very powerful. Grant Shapps amplified this point in the latest DfT guidance.
The Turnham Green Terrace scheme has simply not been tested. Cycleway 9 and Thames Water works have caused traffic chaos in the area. Government advice to avoid public transport has had a huge impact on the street as it provides the main route to the tube station. The data from businesses is ambiguous as the impacts of Covid, reduced use of the station and increase in online shopping outweigh changes to parking provision. There has not been any time for people to try out alternative routes or ways of travelling. This has not stopped a great deal of shouting on social media from those who are unwilling to change their travel habits. It has prevented any rational assessment of hard evidence.
We fear that pulling the scheme without testing will encourage noisy (but ill-informed) opposition to the programme as a whole: it will appear that Cabinet will always back down if the volume is loud enough.
Turnham Green Terrace
We do recognise that there are issues with Turnham Green Terrace, notwithstanding our general comments on the programme and consultation process.
We believe that the scheme has been beneficial to cyclists and would, over time, encourage residents from north of the railway bridge to use active travel to reach the High Road instead of driving. We have no sympathy for those drivers who failed to see large yellow reflective signs and incurred fines: they should drive more carefully. Many of our members do, however, have reservations about this scheme from a wider viewpoint as local residents. In our view the design has been compromised by the need to address two different problems. In the short term, numbers using the tube station are low and wider pavements are essential for social distancing of shoppers. In the long run, the priority will revert to the use of buses, walking and cycling to the tube station.
In the short run, we are minded to remove more parking spaces (this being a low value use of scarce space) and permanently widen the pavements. Parklets and kerb levelling should be considered and the redundant telephone box removed. We would not, however, persist with the access restrictions.
In the long term, we would be very disappointed if the council allowed this street to revert to the noisy, congested and dangerous state that it was in before lockdown. The works near the station were starting to bear fruit but much more needed to be done. Many ideas were generated at the Turnham Green Terrace Workshop on 6 November. These included the imaginative use of ANPR cameras to allow different access at different times and proposals for timed closures and delivery slots. Adoption would improve the balance of the interests of shoppers, businesses, commuters and traffic in this crowded public space. We would like to see commitment to change and full consultation on these ideas as a first step.
Hounslow Cycling is the borough group of the London Cycle Campaign with several hundred local members throughout the borough. We campaign for better cycling facilities in the borough. We offer training and rides for cyclists who are less experienced or less confident. We provide a focus for those interested in cycling locally through meetings (usually over a drink but currently on Zoom) and social media.