You might live in our borough, but not be a regular visitor to Twickenham, but there are some good reasons why you might want to make an effort to tell the council why taking out cycling provision along almost the whole length of the proposed new rebuild/modernisation in Twickenham isn’t such a good idea. (And it isn’t a good idea not just because you might be a cyclist, but for almost any other potential visitor to the area.)
1. They want Twickenham to be a destination shopping area, but they think that people like going shopping with four lanes of traffic driving by. London’s biggest, busiest shopping areas are moving traffic away from the shops, not nearer – why is Twickenham different?
2. Richmond Council wants more people to cycle – they have a stated target of increasing cycling by 40% in the next few years. Yet this provision will *discourage* cycling: survey after survey tells us that people who don’t cycle aren’t going to take it up in order to share space with high-density traffic.
3. Keeping the same level of traffic through Twickenham is just helping London keeps its unenviable status as one of the few cities in Europe unable to meet its targets for emissions from vehicles. Twickenham isn’t going to become a more pleasant place to be by having more vehicles moving through.
4. Even though they’ve done no traffic planning or analysis, they think that *more space is needed* for cars and trucks, so they’re ditching bus lanes and the cycle lane on London Road. Even the Economist thinks that people are trying to get out of their cars, but Richmond seems to want you to drive more.
5. If you want a simple, emotive argument, asked Andrea Dorling, whose father was run down at another poorly designed piece of cycling infrastructure at Bow Roundabout: https://twitter.com/adorling90/status/253121893522087937
6. If you’re a bus user, things won’t get any better for you, despite the often two lanes of traffic, because they want to take out the bus lanes. So you’ll just spend more time sat on a bus behind other people sat in cars.
7. If you do cycle through the area, it’ll get more dangerous, because what little directed provision is there for you will be taken away (London Road).
8. If you choose to cycle through the area during rush hour, the council might give you some advisory cycles lanes (AKA “paint on the road”), but they don’t expect these to be useful during rush hour because of the volume of traffic.
8a. But they do expect these advisory cycle lanes to be useful in somehow keeping cars away from pedestrians. Which implies that they think cars *need* to be kept away from pedestrians. It’s anyone’s guess why cyclists are the chosen tool to separate large moving vehicles and pedestrians …
9. Although the consultation might give you the impression that the council’s thought seriously about cycle parking, it turns out they haven’t. Everyone loves the idea of more cycle parking because – in principle – everyone likes the idea of being able to cycle somewhere rather than use the car. But the TAAP has no space allocated yet for where that cycle parking might be. They’ve been careful to mark out dozens of car parking spaces – mostly inserted into pedestrian zones – but they haven’t got any idea where they might actually put cycle parking.
9a. Which is a sideways nod to the idea that they don’t think any more people will cycle to the area. Because if they did, they might have thought “Ooooh, I wonder where people might put their bikes?”
10. Almost finally, despite a huge amount of paperwork generated, they seem to have produced something that TfL probably isn’t going to be very pleased with.
11. But, worst of all, the plans describe one reality, while all the text and words around them, describe another:
- where the plans have more traffic, the words say “… improve sustainable transport patterns”
- where the plans rip out cycle lanes, the words say “The Transport Strategy [is to] maintains cycle routes throughout the town”
- where the plan is to support more car traffic, the words talk about “reduction of harmful gas emissions”
The Twickenham Area Action Plan has some beautiful ideas for improving the pedestrian realm, but for more than £6m, the borough’s current plan looks more like lipstick painted on a pig than a new Twickenham for the new century.
(For those, incidentally, who think this is too negative, have a look at this junction and ask yourself: “If all the roads through Twickenham have to narrow to a single lane here anyway, why not make them narrow further back, away from the shopping areas, rather than force all that traffic to sit pumping out fumes at this busy pedestrian junction?)