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.