Bye Bye Bike Lanes?

Bye Bye Bike Lane?

With medals galore for Team GB’s cyclists at London 2012 you might wonder what Wiggins, Pendleton, Hoy, Armitstead, Rowsell and the rest of the gang would make of a town centre improvement scheme which got rid of cycle lanes rather than improved them. OK, so the velodrome is not a street and it’s even got a roof, for Pete’s sake, but despite their cushy number we reckon Hoy & Co wouldn’t be impressed. But getting rid of some key cycle lanes is what will happen under El Brute’s “Street Scene and Highways Scheme”. It’s a piece of work linked to the Twickenham Area Action Plan but which is being covered by a separate consultation.

Everyone (or every sane person) agrees that improving King Street is an important part of making Twickenham town centre a more attractive and vibrant place. The idea of moving the bus stops to nearby roads and getting rid of the bus lanes in King Street has met with a mixed response. It should dispense with the steady flow of buses clogging up the road as they collect and drop off passengers but will also inconvenience people needing to change buses. Widening the pavements by getting rid of the bus/cycle lanes will certainly improve the look of King Street but we’ll still have the same number of vehicles driving through it, just in fewer lanes than before.

And what of the cyclists? They’ll now be thrown into the mix with the rest of the traffic, although under current arrangements many King Street cyclists are forced into the main lanes rather than do battle with the buses. But surely any plan to get rid of bus/cycle lanes could easily see the introduction of dedicated bike lanes and still have scope to increase pavement width?

The same goes for the changes in London Road. Getting rid of cycle lanes near the station doesn’t smack of a plan that will encourage people to get on their bikes as part of their commute. It’s more likely to have a deterrent effect.

Although some bus/cycle lanes will remain and the scheme does provide for cycles to stop in front of cars at junctions, with the profile of cycling in the ascendant, plans to reduce rather than increase cycle lanes seems counter-intuitive. Perhaps the consultant who came up with it knows a lot more than we do. Or perhaps they’ve never actually cycled through Twickenham Town Centre. Or anywhere.

The street scene plan is currently in consultation mode and so if you have a view on reducing cycle lane provision in the town centre then you’ve got until 31st August to tell LBRuT about it.

* LBRuT Street Scene Consultation
* Richmond Cycling Campaign

Bus & bike lane, Twickenham


Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan

42 responses to “Bye Bye Bike Lanes?

  1. SGdB

    I don’t like the idea of cycle lanes going against one-way traffic, so please don’t go that way. We had one in Richmond, and it simply didn’t work. However, cyclists still like to think that they can come down the road which I find very disturbing when driving up it and not expecting a vehicle (which is what bicycles are) racing down towards me.

  2. Paul

    I suspect that some sort of default legal liability is needed to get the rogue 10% of motorists (and, OK, the rogue 10% of cyclists) to exercise care for more vulnerable road users or go round via the A316.

  3. Paul

    Note that the loss of the southbound cycle lane in London Rd is to allow the pavement to be wide enough to park cars on it – bad for pedestrians and cyclists. ( and so much for the Twickenham Plan’s claim to be reducing the impact of motor vehicles. )

  4. If you oppose the removal of all bus stops from King Street, please sign the online petition on the Council website: . Closing date: October 20.

    • Yvonne Hewett

      Thanks, Chris. Done.

    • Simon H

      Why do you oppose this? Not saying you’re right or wrong, but would like to know your reasons.

    • The petition offers these reasons:

      ‘The current consultation does not emphasise sufficiently the impact that the proposed relocation of bus stops away from King Street would have on bus users. The present location offers an interchange between routes merging at King Street, and is convenient for mothers with children, the elderly, and the disabled. If the bus stops are moved these groups will be inconvenienced by having to walk between the bus stops which are located at the fringes of the Town Centre.’

    • Yvonne Hewett

      It would also cut down on the options for bus users, who – depending on where they live – can now choose between different routes.

      And, it will cut the footfall to the shops in King Street.

      Finally, where would the bus stops be located? Would the westbound 33 and 68 go around the corner in Cross Deep, in place of the only short-term parking in the area? Or would buses from/to Richmond stop in York Street, narrowing the pavements on the westbound side? Or at the bottom of the London Road, for the 267 and 281?

    • Paul

      The only neat solution would be a dedicated bus station. Aragon Rd under Regal House with diversion of buses from York St seems the only possible place. Expensive though.

    • ruggabugga

      I think there should also be a petition supporting the relocation of the King’s Street bus stops in order to facilitate pavement widening and landscaping.

    • If you want one it is up to you to set it up: it’s no use expecting others to do it for you. See:

    • Paul

      Lipstick on a pig – unless most of the through traffic is diverted this will not be an area for enjoyment. .

  5. twickerman

    Please see Richmond Cycling Campaign’s website for their views on El Brute’s thoughtless proposals to remove cycle and bus lanes:

  6. I’ve just noticed the best proof that there’s no intention for this really to be shared space: pedestrian countdown timers. AKA “Get the hell across the road now, cars are waiting for you!” If anyone has some alternate universe where an area is welcoming for pedestrians and also has countdown timers, please tell me.

    • Mike

      So how does one get them to do it properly? Is there a shared space consultation organisation or architects who would take up the cause? I can see the council might not be getting it right on the grounds you and Adam mention, but if they did get it right it would be better than the current situation, wouldn’t it? (Though not as good as an underpass, obviously). It would be nice to see some constructive views from the pro-cycling lobby here as well – what do “shared space” proposals need to offer to work for cyclists bearing in mind a raised cycle lane wouldn’t work in that context?

    • Tim

      Mark, I don’t honestly think this area is appropriate for shared space without extensive efforts to cut down on traffic volumes. There are elements to applaud in the existing plans, but they fall into the problem Richmond so often faces – not being prepared to say “We’d like people to drive less” and the corollary “In order to have people drive less, we’re going to build them inviting and safe infrastructure to cycle and walk on”.

    • Mike

      Tom, I agree. They need to make extensive efforts to cut down on traffic volumes – or accept them and build an underpass.

    • Spoke

      Mark/Tom/Tim/Mike – are you boys being a bit kindergarten here?

    • Angela

      No one takes any notice of bike lanes anyway because they are not actually bike LANES – they are just a few splodges of paint on the road that cars and buses drive over or park on. They offer no protection to cyclists using them and then dump the cyclist in the middle of nowhere anytime there is a junction or narrowing of the road. Some are no more than a few feet in length and overall they are a complete waste of paint. Cyclists need proper lanes (with concrete walls that separate bikes from traffic) otherwise Richmond Council may just as well put their paint pots away and admit they cannot meet their cycle lane quota which is all the paint seems to be about anyway.

    • Anonymous

      I total agree. Count down timers, our any light controlled crossing is sending the message that the road belongs to the cars. A much better solution would be several zebra crossings, where legally, pedestrians have right of way. This would be a much more pedestrian friendly solution (but it doesn’t help the bikes!)

  7. twickerman

    If you look closely at the Twickenham Action Plan and the Highways Plan IT IS CLEAR what the Council are proposing:
    -remove bus and cycle lanes from London Rd and Kings St
    -move bus stops from Kings Street.
    As a result cyclists will be mixeld with all vehicles on these very congested and dangerous roads.
    The pavements will be widened, but unfortunately this will encourage even more cyclists to cycle on pavements because of the lack of cycle lanes.

  8. Mike

    Just for info, although it’s not quite clear that this is what LBRUT is proposing, there’s a decent and fairly balanced article on mixed use road schemes here:

    I’d still prefer an underpass, but it might work…

    • But they daren’t call it shared space, because it isn’t. In shared space, you need to reduce traffic volumes so that pedestrians actually believe that the road is their space too. This has no change to traffic volume, and to suggest that two lanes each way of traffic could allow space to be shared is, frankly, deserving of nice white coat with very long arms that can be tied behind your back.

    • Adam

      If this is to work, I think they’d need to reduce the speed limit to 10 mph (and enforce it with cameras), remove the landscaping down the middle of the road, and remove the pedestrian crossing. Then people, bicycles and cars would be able to share the space. I don’t think the current scheme will be good for pedestrians or cyclists, and cars will dominate Twickenham high street even more than they do today.

  9. Angelina Jolly

    It is never a good idea to put cycles in with cars on purpose, no matter what mph is. In the other parts of Europe pedestrians have pavements, cycles have their own lanes with raised curbs on either side, so pedestrians and cars cannot enter them, and cars have roads. Wider pavements under this new Twickenham proposal could easily accomodate raided-curb cycle lanes; and all modes of transport get the space they need to move around albeit at a slower pace!

    • Mike

      But that wouldn’t work in a mixed use area of the type proposed. I haven’t looked closely enough so it might be planned already but maybe a cycle route that bypasses the whole mixed use area would be a decent idea, along Holly Road on one side and the Embankment on the other? It is never a good idea to put cycles in with pedestrians on purpose 🙂

    • If you have a cycle route that ‘bypasses the whole mixed use area’, then what you’re saying is: “I’d prefer you to drive into Twickenham please, because if you cycle, you can do a different, less direct way.”

    • Mike

      No I’m not, I’m saying give cyclists an alternative to using the proposed mixed use area in central Twickenham (with proper cycle lanes that go around it) in the same way car drivers already have an alternative for most routes through central Twickenham (the A316).

    • Adam

      In other, other parts of Europe, these mixed use areas are successful. I’m not sure about this one, but it can work if planned correctly. My fears on this scheme are firstly that the road carries a lot of through traffic and secondly that the landscaped strip running down the middle of the street will make it far less friendly for pedestrians to use the road space. Cars only slow down and show “mutual respect” to other road users if there are sufficient numbers of them. Otherwise there is real risk of accidents.

    • Paul

      Twickenham is a crossroads – so cyclists on a pavement cycle lane would need to cross roads as do pedestrians. Even in the Netherlands town centres typically mix pedestrians, cyclists and cars. But this is only the cars who have business there as there is no through route. Low speeds AND reduced traffic volume might work but the council finds it impossible to consider the latter.

  10. Adam

    Isn’t the plan to simultaneously reduce the speed limit to 20 mph in the town centre? I’m not saying that this makes removing the cycle lanes a good idea, but it should be mentioned. I’m guessing this is a half arsed attempt at a mixed use area where car drivers are meant to drive more carefully because they fear a pedestrian or cyclist will suddenly leap/roll in front of them (normally these areas remove all curbs/tarmac so it actually appears that the cars are driving in a pedestrianised zone, but that would cost more money). This half-way house seems a very bad idea.

    • Mike

      As far as I can tell this is indeed the idea – raise the road surface so it’s on the same level as the pavement and encourage all users of the space to show mutual respect. It will slow traffic down at off peak times and obviously a cycle lane in the middle of it would defeat the object. I think I’m quite in favour of the scheme over all – giving Twickenham more of a town-centre focus with pedestrians at its heart has to be a good thing, surely.

    • Simon H

      They’ve got a similar system near the museums in S. Kensington and it works pretty well. I cycle through it most days.

    • Adam

      The “central landscaped strip” seems an odd idea if they are aiming for an area like that near the South Ken museums. It looks like it would force everyone to cross the road at the new straight crossing, and leave little reason for pedestrians to enter the “road space” even with the raised road surface.

  11. Evan

    I agree that there must be more to it. Removing bike lanes through Twickers town centre goes against all current thinking about mixed mode transport.

  12. lindelljones

    This does seem to fly in the face of reason. The Times’ campaign on safer cycling has drawn praise from the Government for its drive to increase cycle lanes. Local tories seem to prefer more space for private cars which would probably speed up traffic flow but I’m not sure that’s what we really wanted from this exercise. The other slightly bonkers proposal unless I have misunderstood the plan is to remove the bus stops that are outside the station. Isn’t that precisely where you want bus stops?

  13. Ed

    Some joined-up thinking is required.
    Few of the bike lanes across the borough are properly joined up routes, the instead form a disjointed hotch-potch of subsidiy-attracting paint to meet some quota.
    Try cycling (with kids, of course) along the lane that follows the A316 from St.Margarets to Twickenham. It’s great until you get to London Road roundabout where a sign reads “Cyclists dismount” and the lane unceremoniously ends, dumping you on your own.
    Or perhaps you might want to cycle from North St.Margarets to one of the schools – Orleans (Park or Infants) or St.Mary’s – no lanes at all, Crown Road and its junctions are quite dangerous.
    Now go to France for a week with your bikes, St.Jean de Monts would be a good example. Lanes are often separated from roads altogether. Where the lanes do run along the road they are separated not by paint but a sloping raised kerb, or sometimes even a wooden barrier – and that includes on roundabouts! You feel very safe. Plus they follow _routes_ which actually take you somewhere you want to go. Sure, they have more space to play with, but a fine example of what can be done with careful thought and planning.

  14. twickerman

    Hear, hear twickerati

    The Council’s claims, made by Cllr Virginia Morris, that mixing cyclists in with the rest of traffic in narrowed roads will be safer is, of course, total and utter nonsense. This woman clearly hasn’t a clue about cycling. Perhaps she should have consulted the Council’s ‘cycling champion’ Cllr Harbourne before making such a foolish statement.

    The London Road cycle lane shown in the pic above is actually TOO WIDE because cars and even buses try to squeeze through it endangering cyclists. By narrowing this cycle lane and converting the bus lane on the other side into a cycle lane the road can be made safer for cyclists and the pavement widened for pedestrians. Simples.

  15. Simon H

    There might be more to the council’s plan than meets the eye. I hope there is, because removing cycle lanes is plain weird.

  16. This is disgusting Twickenham – going back to the Dark Ages are we – making room for more cars? The best plan is to reduce car dependency by increasing bike lanes, and thus increasing cycle safety, encouraging more short journeys on bikes, and reducung polution damage – it all makes economic sense as well, with reduced hospital costs for obesity and heart related diseases. Do the right thing Twickenham!!