Street scene improvements? For some more than others

The Council’s ideas to improve roads in central Twickenham were generally well received by the residents of this fine town. Of course they were, some good and sensible things got proposed. El Brute has recently published the highlights of its Highways and Street Scene Consultation which showed how many of those motherhood and apple pie recommendations in the plan went down with the locals. Remove unnecessary signage? Tick. Increase cycle parking? Check. Create a 20mph zone around King Street? Sounds alright, doesn’t it? Provide real time information at bus stops? You betcha!!

But the issues that polarised views in the debate a few months ago emerged once again in the actual results. Remove the bus lane outside the station? 47% disagreed (and as we’ve said before, improving and futureproofing the public transport arrangements at the station should have been a key aspect of the station redevelopment).  How about moving the bus stops out of King Street? Only 38% agreed with that. It might help traffic flow and keep car drivers happy but at the expense of convenience for users of public transport.

And, as for removing cycle lanes on London Road? Well, 67% were not at all impressed! No siree. What about moving the cycle lanes from King Street? Well, that’s a bit harder to get a clear picture on because bus lanes double as cycle lanes and it was wrapped up with the whole “widening of the pavements” (a ceremony a bit like the trooping of the colour but in beige and for town planners). This whole pavements thing was generally well supported, after all, what’s not to like about a lovely wide pavement, but one option not included in the survey was maintaining cycle lanes and improving and widening pavements. Not impossible to improve the lot of pedestrians and cyclists, surely?

The Council has indicated that it will look at the results before deciding its next steps at a Cabinet meeting on October 18th, but the word is that it seems set to go ahead with the removal of cycle lanes in the town centre, at peak times at least. The El Brute view is that cyclists will be safe enough when mixed with slower moving traffic. The latest is that there could be an option to keep cycle lanes during off-peak periods, which might help the leisure cyclist but not help workers or any kids wanting to cycle to school. Sounds like a bit of a half way house doesn’t it? With all the other plans being cooked up around the regeneration of Twickenham, getting rid of cycle lanes or having off-peak only lanes feels like a missed opportunity to show a bit of green leadership in improving the lot of cyclists and, perhaps more importantly, getting more people onto bikes in the first place.

* Good stuff from Richmond Cycle Campaign
* El Brute Press Release
* Twickerati: Bye Bye Bike Lanes
* People’s Front of Richmond – Interesting articles on local cycling and other issues

Bus & bike lane, Twickenham


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

23 responses to “Street scene improvements? For some more than others

  1. ‘ • [Oct 15]: RICHMOND Council’s plans to remove bus stops and cycle lanes from Twickenham town centre have been postponed in the face of a growing outcry from cycle groups and bus users, especially representatives of elderly and disabled users. A decision on the proposal had been scheduled for the cabinet meeting on 18th October, but has now been postponed to 15th November. The reasons given for the delay are:

    1. Transport for London (TfL) has not yet come to a view on the removal of the bus stops;
    2. To see how may people will sign the petition against the removal of the bus stops; and
    3. To give more time to “explain” the council’s proposals in regard to the removal of cycle lanes and to “correct some of the misunderstandings that are floating in the air” . . ‘

  2. Angry Motorist is exactly the kind of person we need to make more angry. There is really no need to drive anywhere in London – unless you have mobility issues or are transporting heavy goods.

    As others have pointed out, the major problem with Twickenham is a six-lane dual carriageway through the middle of town. It’s completely designed for the motorist and everyone else has to lump it.

    The People’s Front of Richmond blog makes some great points:

    “Traffic in the area can be re-shaped to remove the need for so many journeys through Twickenham town centre.”

    ” …a rat-run to the A316, a place where people stop for a minimal amount of time to do basic shopping, and a blot on our borough.”

    The whole ‘motorist first’ idea needs to be turned on its head, with prirotiries reversed. Design the High Street for pedestrians, cyclists, buses and lastly cars. Delight in making it hard and time consuming for cars to get through Twickenham. Drivers need to find another way to go, another means of transport or accept long delays if they’re really insistent on driving through in their cars.

    The days of the motorist are well and truly over Mr Angry; you’d better get used to it.

    I hope the council has the vision and the cojones to make a decision that many future generations to come will applaud as brave and far-sighted.

  3. Some interesting stuff on this issue, cycling in the Borough more generally from the Peoples’ Front of Richmond:

  4. Paul

    King Street cycle lanes would be problematic as they would end up on the inside of left turn lanes. If you want to go straight on then you have to move out and face the wrath of “angry motorist” . The London Road lanes don’t have that problem and are thoroughly useful.

    • ruggabugga

      Its the same for all cycle lanes at junctions.

      London Rd and King St cycle lanes are desperately needed to keep cyclists safe.

      Its not much to ask as part of the highways reform.

    • Paul

      Ah; but there is no left turn at the South end of London Rd so no such conflict. At the North end the lane changes to a footway track.

    • ruggabugga

      Ah, but what about the turn left into Arragon Road and the turn right into London Road (at Whitton Road junction)?
      Not so simples is it?

    • Paul

      Sorry this is a reply to your later comment which somehow lost its reply button.
      Arragon Road : OK ish – the bus lane here changes to a left turn lane so by keeping in the same lane and moving a bit to the right you can go straight on. (done it frequently)
      Whitton Road Junction, The recommended way to the right is Cole Park Rd to which an off-road path and toucan gives access.
      turn right

    • Paul

      I am all for cyclists being kept safe but have had the experience of using a LH cycle lane to access a ASL and turn right when the light changed just as I was crossing in front of a lorry. That is not being kept safe but led into danger.

  5. George

    This should not be about cyclists versus motorists but about how to make Twickenham a better environment. Many people are motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and bus users depending on what they’re doing. I am, and although I drive through the town centre more than I cycle thorugh it I would like to see better cycle lane provision, not less.

    Having fewer cars driving through King Street would be great but without a tunnel, a new bridge over the river or knocking down some buildings to create a by-pass this is not going to happen soon.

    On the face of it moving the bus stops is not good for bus users but it would allow the bus/cycle lanes to be used for bikes only and also allow pavements to be widened a bit. Given that cars can’t use these lanes at the moment it would have no impact on motorists apart from buses being in the traffic flow along King Street. Removing the bus stops would also free up pavement space. King Street will never have a pavement cafe society when there are better places nearby (Church Street, the river) and I doubt it’s the width of the pavements that are putting off retailers from moving in to empty shops.

    (Outside Cousins green grocer is the only place where the pavement genuinely gets too narrow, because of the stalls outside.)

    There must be other ideas than what’s currently proposed that can give a better balance between all the different interest groups or perhaps we need to wait until King Street is re-built for those to be viable.

  6. twickerman

    With the Highways and Street Scene Consultation the Council has a fantastic and unique opportunity to improve the bleak and congested environment in the centre of Twickenham.
    King Street, which is effectively an extended crossroads between the main roads to the South, West, North and East, is the town centre’s busiest stretch of road with between 10,000 and 20,000 vehicle movements per day.
    If the Council get King Street right for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles it will play a significant part in the Twickenham Area Action Plan’s regeneration of Twickenham.
    Unfortunately, the Council have missed a great opportunity. They have ignored the needs of the growing number cyclists that have been boosted by the Olympic cycling events in the borough and the desire to lead healthier more environmentally friendly lives.
    The Council have proposed the removal of the bus/cycle lanes along King Street which currently provide cyclists with a safe route through this busy and congested stretch of road.
    While I support the Council’s plans to widen the pavements and add trees to improve the streetscene, they have missed a fantastic opportunity to replace the bus lanes with (much narrower) dedicated cycle lanes along King Street. Doing this would benefit pedestrians, cyclists and motorist alike. It’s a win-win-win solution that the Council have totally overlooked.
    Council cabinet members Morris and Harrison have tried to tell us that it will be safer for cyclists to mix in with the huge numbers of cars, lorries, and buses that use this stretch of road, rather than use a dedicated bus or cycle lane. They have also suggested that advisory cycle lanes may help in off peak hours, but these lanes can and will be used by vehicles and offer cyclists no protection particularly when the road is at its busiest and most dangerous. Advisory cycle lanes are a completely useless sop. There is also little point increasing cycle parking and adding advanced cycle stops at junctions if cyclists are too afraid to cycle into or through the centre of Twickenham.
    In their consultation document the Council stated that ‘most residents have seen making King Street a more attractive place as essential’ and that one of the main objectives is to ‘improve accessibility for ALL USERS. By adding dedicated cycle lanes they will make King Street more attractive to cyclists and will improve accessibility for the growing number of cyclists in the town, while also benefitting pedestrians and vehicles.
    The Council have stated that ‘this opportunity will not recur’ and therefore I urge them to revisit and change their plans to include dedicated cycle lanes along King Street to encourage and protect the growing numbers of cyclists in LBRUT.

  7. Angry motorist

    Simply not enough room to have wider pavements and cycle lanes and keep the traffic flowing. Cyclists represent a tiny percentage of the journeys through Twickenham, there’s no need to pander to their minority agenda. Observations of cyclists behaviour in Twickenham include not using the cycle lanes that are already provided, using the pavements, holding up traffic by cycling in the middle of the road, yummy mummies needing to give cyclists a berth of at least 5m, creating further congestion and holding up traffic.

    • Tim

      The council plans provide for more space for traffic through Twickenham. We’ve known since the 1950s that building more roads just gives us more cars sitting in queues.
      There’s certainly no evidence that cyclists in Twickenham hold up its usually gridlocked traffic (except anecdotal) whereas there’s a lot of evidence that improving a townscape such that it is inviting for pedestrians and cyclists will improve footfall and spend.
      Of course, if you’re to be believed, Twickenham is already gridlocked with bicycles as they’re simultaneously in the middle of the road and on the pavement.
      It sounds like you just want to drive through Twickenham, which means the council’s plans are aimed squarely at you, so you should be happy with them as they stand. Everyone else, who wants to arrive by bus foot or bicycle, and who wants to shop without reducing their life expectancy, will be less impressed.

  8. They can’t be serious! The only way to improve Twickenham is to reduce significantly the car traffic. Apart from Church Street (where cars also have priority most of the time), Twickenham is just a dual carriage way with some miserable shops huddling along it & pedestrians banished to the margins while cyclists struggle with speeding traffic & poorly maintained surfaces. If we can’t get rid of cars altogether, we should reverse the priority: pedestrians first, then cyclists, then buses, then cars. Look at Exhibition Road in Kensington for a great example, or most German towns, large and small. (By the way, I don’t mean the shops have to be miserable – Twickenham could be a really pleasant community shopping experience – but they are completely marginalised by the current road layout.)

  9. j keates

    For me the issues are:
    we should be creating more cycle lanes not getting rid of the few that exist.
    Rush hour is already a nightmare and there are too many cars on the road. This will only get worse as population grows. Getting more people esp school kids onto bikes is the only option apart from the Sinclair c5. Not to mention environmental issues.
    Which councillor is happy to demonstrate how safe being hit by a range rover actually is.

  10. According to Casualties in Greater London during 2011 [TfL June 2012], accidents involving cyclists in the borough rose by 30% between 2009 and 2011 from 99 to 129 and we now have more cycling accidents each year than most other London boroughs.

    However the borough’s ‘Cycling Champion’ Tory Cllr Katharine Harborne is unconcerned; she recently told the Richmond Cycling Campaign: “Sometimes campaigning to improve safety is counter productive. It puts potential new cyclist off. Is that what you want to do?”

    The Campaign says: “We need urgent action to make our roads safer for cyclists, starting with a rapid increase in the number of 20mph zones across the borough. They must also start working with local cycling groups to address safety issues at local accident hotspots. We all want to see a greater uptake of cycling in our borough, but the council must start taking safety concerns seriously and take action to make our roads safer for cycling.”