Consultations, improvements and going Dutch with Alice. Oh yes, it’s all happening in Twickenham. We’ve got three issues to assist with your enlightenment and spiritual wellbeing so please read on, dear reader, read on…

Twickenham to Become a Mini-Holland?

Some bikes, but not Dutch ones
Some bikes, but not Dutch ones

Yep, skin up, sit back and relax whilst also supporting a football team that plays an attractive game but which never quite delivers the silverware. Oh, and get on your bike too. Putting the lazy stereotypes aside for one moment the “mini-Holland” thing is El Brute’s bike-focused bid submitted to Transport for London. Apparently TfL and Boris have cash to splash on cycling provision and the Council have put an ambitious set of proposals into the mix. To be fair, the mini-Holland is the theme of the whole shebang rather than El Brute’s own creation but we digress.

If it all comes to pass we’ll be cycling along railway lines (or at least near them), cycling over the river at Twickenham (or at least on a new bridge over it), using quiet routes, routes linking local centres and fast routes into London, and enjoying improved road junctions for cyclists. In other words, more and better. It all sounds impressive. They might even provide you with a free basket to hold your freshly baked scones as you cycle from the rectory to the village fete. Splendid! It’s also a long way from the cycle lane provision contained in the original Twickenham Area Action Plan (aka the TWAP) but that’s a good thing.

The bid is a vision of how things could be with a lot of external funding to make it all happen. And the bridge over the Thames at Twickenham? This idea has been promoted for a while in the form of a crossing from Radnor Gardens to Ham, although in the mini-Holland document 4 options are proposed. New bridges are also one of the suggestions in the Greater London Authority press release about the bidding process. Funny dat. True, a Twickenham crossing would provide extra options for walkers, cyclists & joggers and, although it doesn’t feel like there’s a burning demand for it, it could certainly be a ‘nice to have’.

The bid is very much a vision for the future rather than a detailed blueprint – or should that be Blue Baron Print? – and there are many issues to resolve, such as actually building a bridge across the river, putting cycle paths on land that the council doesn’t actually own, etc but it’s good to see some longer term ideas being put forward. Perhaps some of that grand vision could have been brought into the TWAP where early iterations did away with cycle routes in central Twickenham rather than expanding them. The Council has relented on some of its bike lane removal ideas. And with a little hint of irony (perhaps), the mini-Holland bid includes an image of dedicated cycle lanes by Twickenham station separated from the road by a raised kerb. Avid readers will recall that the TWAP proposed the removal of the existing painted cycle lanes here. Anyway, this new found focus on making Twickenham more attractive to cyclists (present and future) is welcome even if it does seem quite distant at the moment. Let’s see if Boris and TfL can cough up some cash.

* El Brute mini Holland
* Mayor of London press release on mini-Holland bids
(the very brief window for comments has expired)

TWAP Improvements and a Pocket Park?

Pavement improvements, York Street
Pavement improvements, York Street

Things are moving forward on the TWAP front. Yes, and all that traffic disruption in York Street is part of it too. If you get held up there, just think of it as taking one for the team. The TWAP plan has now been approved by the Independent Planning Inspector (who he?) and is now the law! It’s the bloody law, so don’t mess with it or you’ll feel the full force of the iron fist inside the tweed glove of you know who.

And, because we all love a consultation there’s one running at the moment on the following proposals:

  1. No right turn from King Street into Church Street and Water Lane during morning and afternoon peak hours Monday to Friday. We’re not sure if this is about traffic on King Street itself or about traffic in Church Street and Water Lane. Either way, it doesn’t feel like a huge problem to be grappled with. Under the plan, to drive down either of those during peak times, coming from Heath Road / King Street would require, errr, what? Driving along King Street, down York Street, turning left into Arragon Road, left onto London Road and then accessing Water Lane via a left turn from King Street. Other equally complicated options exist too. Seems like a major hassle for a bit of a non-problem.
  2. The introduction of a 20 mph zone within Twickenham Town Centre. Our view: Probably a good thing in the central area although 20 mph is generally about the speed of the traffic through there anyway, if you’re lucky.
  3. The creation of a ‘pocket park’ in Garfield Road, near Twickenham library. Two ‘plaza’ type options have been proposed. Seems sensible, so why not? Something which reduces pigeon numbers too would be good, thanks.
  4. The section of Holly Road between Grosvenor Road and London Road would be converted to one-way westbound for cars but two-way for cyclists only. This is about 10 metres long, isn’t it? Best ask the rozzers for their view as it’s right next to them. Again, it’s not clear what problem this is solving but someone out there probably knows.

Given that we’re getting all bikey, some cycle lane provision, advance cycle stops at lights and more bike parking also form part of the plan but it doesn’t feel as if we’re going fully Dutch just yet.

* Council Consultation
Deadline for comments: 12th August

York House Gardens to Get Mad Hatter and Giant Rabbit?

York House Gardens
York House Gardens
According to Richmond Council, “the formal York House Gardens has a wilderness/natural area at rear of site which lends itself to an enchanted garden trail with a variety of carvings along the route, with a magical or Alice in Wonderland feel as a suggested theme”. Oh really? Why? Apparently, there’s a dearth of children’s playgrounds in the area. They do have a point. What with just the Holly Road playground, the Diamond Jubilee Gardens playground, and playgrounds in Radnor Gardens, Cambridge Gardens, Orleans Gardens, Kneller Gardens and Moormead, it can sometime feel as if there simply aren’t enough facilities around for young children. Add to that the permanent installation of a Viking longboat / playbeach at Champions Wharf just across the road from York House and the point is clear, isn’t it?

The proposal is for a ‘garden trail’ with wooden carvings in this secluded part of the gardens. An Alice in Wonderland theme has been suggested. So the plan is to add some man-made structures into this ‘wilderness/natural’ area? Correctamundo! Call us miseries if you will but this space actually feels like one of the few that doesn’t have some kind of play park attached? And of course, children can still use it free of charge. Encourage its use by all means, maybe even add some signs to explain the plants or history of the Gardens, but do we really need a carved wooden rabbit or a Mad Hatter to make that happen? We’re not convinced.

* The plans
* The consultation
Deadline for comments: 2nd August