Huge public support for Cycle Superhighway CS9 despite bikelash

The numbers are in, and nearly 60% of the 5,388 responses to the Cycle Superhighway 9 (CS9) consultation supported the proposals, despite a furious bikelash from ward Councillors, some retailers on Chiswick High Road and some residents.

The plan is to put cycle tracks from the edge of Brentford to Olympia, a route that will be the first of its kind in West London, creating much needed protected space for cycling.

Fran Graham, Campaigns Coordinator, LCC, said: “It’s fantastic to see huge public support for Cycle Superhighway 9. Alongside tackling several dangerous junctions, CS9 will take the Mayor another step towards fulfilling the commitment made to LCC members and all Londoners to triple the amount of protected space for cycling on our dangerous main roads.”

Although the formal decisions to approve CS9 are unlikely to be made before the local elections on 3rd May, the consultation results are a clear indication that CS9 is likely to go ahead. Designers at TfL will now be working on amendments to the scheme based on the detailed feedback received at consultation – and hopefully fixing some of the concerns about pedestrian space and a few of the junctions that LCC and others raised.

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “It’s great news that our plans to improve walking and cycling in west London have been backed by Londoners. Cycle Superhighway 9 will improve safety for cyclists and make the area more attractive for pedestrians, providing real benefits to the whole community. I look forward to working closely with the borough councils to consider all of the responses and develop our plans further.”

Bikelash kicks off

Conservative London Assembly members immediately criticised the consultation announcement and plans for CS9, with Tony Devenish suggesting that Mayor Sadiq Khan must listen to the “wishes of local residents” and Tony Arbour saying the consultation had been “undermined by people who live nowhere near the areas affected.”

However, TfL has revealed the response rates to the scheme and demonstrated that 75% of respondents were local residents, compared to just 17% who commuted through the area, 14% who visited and 13% who were employed locally. And TfL separated out 941 responses from our supporters who emailed in a form letter, so those numbers don’t reflect the London wide support and interest in the plans.

The scheme has clearly divided the local community, however. Most local community groups who sent in a response opposed the scheme (with common responses for CS9 to be rerouted onto the  A4 and worrying about speeding commuter cyclists). However, of the respondents, 65% of those who did respond said they cycled in the area. Which shows that, despite what the residents associations think, there are clearly a lot of local people who cycle and want CS9 to become a reality!

Chiswick High Road – the area which was most controversial during the consultation process – unsurprisingly received the lowest overall approval – 59% (but the highest number of people strongly supporting). Every other individual section of the scheme saw support and strongly support responses totalling 60% or over.

The scheme was supported by LCC of course, but also by Ealing Council, Hammersmith & Fulham Council, London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, Middlesex Association for the Blind, Wheels for Wellbeing, Living Streets, Holy Trinity Hounslow, St Paul’s Church (Ealing), Hammersmith London BID, West London Business and businesses including Glaxo-SmithKline, Heathrow Airport, L&Q Housing Association, Olympia and Sky.

It was opposed by some of the usual suspects (Alliance of British Drivers, Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, Road Haulage Association etc.), and there were some unusual concerns amongst the responses.

Turnham Green ward councillors, according to TfL, claimed CS9 would cause an “increase local crime (cycles used for snatch thefts and for planned heists from high-value retailers such as jewellers)” while one response, according to TfL, said “Cycle Superhighways were the sole cause of slower motor traffic journeys in London … objected to reducing bus lanes to provide space for cyclists, as cyclists do not pay to use the road… called for cycling to be banned on roads away from CS9…”.

The full consultation report is available here.