Hounslow Cycling believes that Cycleway 9 along Chiswick High Road is already providing a safer route for cyclists and encouraging more residents to take up active travel. That helps to make London cleaner and greener.
From the 2022 TfL annual Outer Area Cycle Survey (TfL FOI-2904-2223), Chiswick High Road had the highest cycle counts of any location in Outer London.
We welcome the recent improvements and believe that the new route is generally superior to the 2017 plan for both cyclists and pedestrians.
We have no critical issues to raise, unlike the section of C9 along King St in LB Hammersmith and Fulham where we have flagged safety issues created by lack of implementation of some important design features at several junctions, most notably Weltje Road.
Our comments are targeted at improving the overall experience and connectivity of the route for people cycling, specifically:
- Design changes to reduce the need for cycle specific signals at the junctions of Heathfield Terrace, Dukes Avenue, British Grove. We recognise that design changes at Dukes Avenue would be dependent on reducing rat-running on this street so is outside the scope of the consultation.
- Improving connectivity with links to the north and south, specifically Fishers Lane and Devonshire Rd. We recognise that improving connectivity with Devonshire Rd would mean enabling two way cycling on this street and is outside the scope of the consultation.
- Additional signage and way finding.
One of our members analysed road safety statistics for Chiswick High Road using the STATS19 reports from 2005-2017. He calculated that there were 162 cyclist casualties (about one a month) of whom 14 sustained serious injuries (about one a year). In the same period there were 95 pedestrian casualties of whom 20 sustained serious injuries with one fatal injury (articulated lorry). There were no casualty reports from pavement collisions between pedestrians and cyclists but there were 5 collisions in the road, i.e. where pedestrians stepped out into the path of a cyclist.
We do not yet have meaningful statistics for the temporary Cycleway but our members are absolutely convinced that it is safer. Sharing a bi-directional track with other cyclists (and scooters and occasionally horses) is much less dangerous than sharing a bi-directional road with cars, vans, lorries and buses. Pedestrians are more likely to wander into the bike lane than the vehicle carriageway but that feels like a low risk, as the statistics confirm.
The route was only fully open in 2022 during August and September. Some useful data on traffic counts is, however, available. A Freedom of Information request to TfL released data from survey cameras on Chiswick High Road and these showed daily cyclist numbers regularly exceeding 3,000. Comparison with DfT counts show significant increase since the late 2010s when the daily average was less than 2,000. Cycle counts show the AM and PM peaks are ‘tidal’ with commuting into and back from central London. It is particularly pleasing to see the inter-peak and weekend flows are ‘balanced’ with similar numbers in both directions. The increase in cycling outside of commuter peaks is probably influenced by more working from home but also indicates use of the cycle lane for shopping, leisure and everyday purposes. This shows Cycleway 9 is achieving its objective to link town centres in the borough.
Anecdotally, we know of many parents now using C9 to take children to school and drivers who have taken up cycling for everyday use. We have seen videos celebrating c9 on social media. We regularly see bike parking full at key shopping locations along Chiswick High Rd, such as Old Market Place and Devonshire Rd. We recognise that cycle parking is outside the scope of this consultation and have been making separate representations to LB Hounslow on this topic.
We see that the mix of cyclists using C9 and nearby roads has changed significantly. Delivery riders, e-bikes, e-scooters, mobility scooters, child bikes and cargo bikes often outnumber conventional pushbikes on C9 itself. One of our members reported in January that 6 year 1 children of a class of 30 had travelled to school by cargo bike. That particular school is in a low traffic neighbourhood but C9 almost certainly played a part in changing parents’ habits.
We discussed the design of CS9 with TfL during the consultation in 2017. TfL was clear that it had done extensive investigations into different design options and concluded that the proposed CS9 design with bi-directional track achieved the best balance between providing safe, protected space for cyclists and minimising loss of pavement and road space for other users. A design using cycle track on both sides of the road would require far more loss of footway and roadway space than the current design. This would have been a particular issue on Chiswick High Road where the north side has up to nine times more footfall than the south side, where bi-directional track has been proposed. We understood and supported the rationale for this design choice subject to appropriate risk mitigation at the un-signalled junctions.
The design was modified for speed / ease of build during the Covid lockdowns. The main change is that less pavement space has been taken and fewer trees cut down. This has meant more encroachment on vehicle space. The new route is more legible for cyclists, keeps more space for pedestrians and has not obviously affected journey times. The cycle by-pass at the Heathfield Terrace junction was removed, which is disappointing. Overall, however, we believe that the revised design is an improvement.
From the Air Quality Monitoring Station HS4 on Chiswick High Rd, we note that levels of NO2, PM10 and PM2.5 have reduced since 2019 and are all below EU thresholds. This is positive news. Air quality is affected by many factors and it cannot be claimed that the improvements are solely because of Cycleway 9. However, claims from opponents of Cycleway 9 that pollution is worse on Chiswick High Road are demonstrably untrue.
We have no evidence on the impact of Cycleway 9 on bus timings and assume TfL will be providing this data. We note that only some sections of Chiswick High Rd had bus lanes prior to Cycleway 9 and these were only operational in peak weekday times and used for parking on Sundays.
We understand that TfL and LBH want to monitor traffic counts for a reasonable period before considering whether any further design modifications are needed. We accept that this is sensible but highlight four issues that we believe should be high priorities for design review:-
- [map 2] Cyclists joining C9 eastbound at Heathfield Terrace from Chiswick High Road are expected to cross vehicle traffic at the Crown & Anchor to reach the bike lane to the advanced stop line. This is unsatisfactory for inexperienced cyclists and those shepherding children.
- [map 3] The Duke’s Avenue junction is often quite chaotic because of the number and speed of vehicle turning movements across C9 and the southern pavement of CHR. The root cause is that this residential road has become a rat run from the High Road to the A4.
- [map 3] There is no obvious route for cyclists to connect from C9 to Fishers Lane and the Chiswick-Acton bike route. Gaps in the network discourage modal shift from car to bike.
- [map 11] Cyclists do not see the need for bike signals at British Grove, which has less traffic than other unsignalled side roads on C9 and no pedestrian signals. Running the red light has low risk to the cyclist and none to any pedestrians, hence it has become the norm rather than exception. This does not create a good perception of cyclists.
Cyclists who don’t use C9 regularly find wayfinding difficult. Clear and consistent waymarking at the Heathfield Terrace, Turnham Green, Chiswick Lane and Goldhawk Road junctions would help them.
We ask that TfL fund a survey of bike movements on to and off from this section of C9 once travel habits have had time to settle down. We are particularly interested in knowing how many cyclists access C9 from the north and where they choose to do so. We believe that a survey would inform the design of future junction improvements and N-S cycle connections.
Hounslow Cycling is the borough group of the London Cycle Campaign with several hundred local members. We campaign for better cycling facilities in Hounslow. We offer training and rides for cyclists who are inexperienced or less confident. We provide a focus for those interested in cycling locally through meetings and social media.