Note: we have now posted and sent our final comments on this scheme.
A consultation opened on 9th September 2013 and will close on 6th October 2013 for regeneration scheme for an area the council terms Shepherd’s Bush Town Centre West. This is a project to regenerate the public realm focussing on part of two main roads (Goldhawk Road and Uxbridge Road) and one residential street (Lime Grove) in an area to the west of Shepherd’s Bush Green. These main roads are to some degree paralleled by the A4 and the A40 so traffic is by far local rather than long distance.
As a public realm project most of the changes are focussed on pavement space and pedestrian experience, especially around Shepherd’s Bush Market. There is currently a public inquiry into plans to redevelop the market itself. There are gains for cyclists here as well, but they are not all that they could be, and they do not seem to plan for the future envisaged in the Mayor’s Cycling Vision. It’s worth noting that a priority for the council is partly for this to be a project to utilise SuDs (Sustainable Urban Drainage Solution) and also from council papers it appears that TfL (Transport for London) have selected it to be showcased in their Public Realm improvements website. Cost is £3.5m which is £2.5m from TfL Major Schemes budget, £500k from Section 106 (local developer contributions), £200k council flood risk management and £300k from TfL LIP (Local Implementation Plan) funding for the coming financial year. The Council hopes to begin the works in early November 2013 and it is expected that the scheme will be carried out in phases and completed by March 2015.
Two further things are worth noting before we assess the value of the scheme. One is that the intention is to produce this public realm of a quality to last twenty years. This means we must not only ask if the cycle provision makes sense in 2013 but also 2033. The target London wide is to double cycling in the next ten years, to de-lycra-fy it and to encourage those groups who do not cycle (partly due to fear) to do so. Does the scheme fit into that picture? Secondly, much attention is placed on reducing accidents. It is considered vital that the scheme reduces them by 35%, assuming even distribution this means a fall overall from 22 cyclists to just over 14 in the three years after the scheme is implemented. However as most of the interventions are for pedestrians that may be optimistic. We shall have to monitor this as it is a key driver of the scheme.
The headline list of improvements the council lists are:
- De-cluttered and widened footways
- Feature paving at the front of the Bush Theatre
- New and revised pedestrian crossings
- Cycle lanes
- Upgraded street lighting
- Tree planting, Sustainable urban Drainage schemes (SuDS) and pocket parks
- Road improvements, including raised tables and removing unnecessary signs
- New pavements
- Improvements to the bridge facades in Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road
- Potential feature shared space at the front of the University of the Arts London College of Fashion.
You can sense how much this is really a public realm project first and foremost. However the decluttering is welcome, and it is true – especially on Uxbridge Road but also around the market on Goldhawk Road – that the pavements can be crowded. Perhaps not at the levels seen in places like Camden or in Central London, but still at a level that makes bus stop placement troublesome. Speaking of which two bus stops are being relocated, one on each of the two main roads affected.
There is also a summary of improvements for cycling as follows:
- Install two-metre wide cycle lanes in both directions on Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road
- Allow two-way cycling in Lime Grove and Pennard Road
- Install additional cycle parking in the area
So, we get cycle lanes on both major roads, sounds good. Two-way cycling on Lime Grove and Pennard Road which actually isn’t the first such scheme in the area, but helps in making the area more permeable. Each of these roads are being given special entry treatments.
Above is just one example of the entry treatment for the road (you can download all plans for this scheme from the consultation page). The blue is space being given to the pavement from the road. You’ll note that as you can see even in this small snapshot the cycle lanes are advisory and non-continuous. Whilst the side road is being given a raised entry (and exit for cyclists) and the kerbs are being realigned to drastically slow vehicle speed entering and exiting the side roads which is good.
However there is an element of Dutch design not being copied here, in many places they would have the pavement continuous over that raised entry and only make the side road black and like a normal road from a few metres away from the junction. It is interesting that the council do believe in the visual aspects of design changing behaviour to slow speeds but don’t want to try that design element. If this is to be an example of the best in London why aren’t pedestrians getting the best of Dutch design?
Turning to the main roads themselves, as we’ve already noted the cycle lanes are both advisory and non-continuous. Now, by advisory we don’t mean that cyclists may not have to use them but that vehicles may enter them as part of their path along the road.
The overall plan is for what was two lanes each way to become a 3.5m wide lanes and a 2m wide cycle lane each way. This does mean that a bus lane is being relinquished and cycle lanes are replacing them. There are some challenges this design needs to conquer to make the new widths work.
The first is parking, and there is provision made for both parking bays and loading bays on the pavement. These are placed over the cycle lane, so entry and exit would be over the cycle lane. Depending on how these bays are marked there is also a potential risk of ‘dooring’ as car doors are opened by parked vehicles onto the bike lane. This is a problem particularly as delivery drivers may park on the offside of the road to try and avoid Shepherd’s Bush Green Gyratory (at the far eastern end of Goldhawk Road). However, it is true that parking on the pavement is better than being in the course of the cycle lane and where there are not parking bays there are double yellow lines and we are promised some CCTV to help enforce them.
A rather larger problem interrupting the cycle lanes are the bus stops. On Goldhawk Road especially those near to the tube are also used as lay-bys for buses either entering or leaving service and those whose crew are changing. It seems likely that the eastbound advisory cycle lane will have buses in it sometimes as seeing three buses waiting here is not uncommon.
How well do we expect traffic, cyclists and buses at stops to mix, would it not make sense for a centre like this to consider something like a bus stop bypass?
And of course, a bus stop bypass would be best as part of a protected cycle route, a route for cyclists which took them directly and continuously in safety that everyone could understand. There is the example of Royal College Street of what can be acomplished today, but hopefully even better solutions will be available once trials at TRL for TfL complete. Again, a reminder that things are changing such that a plan that is thinking about lasting 20 years on two of the most used east-west routes for cyclists must consider the highest quality that it can deliver.
There are two strange things about Goldhawk Road just as it approaches Hammersmith Grove westbound, first is that the cycle lanes disappear in the plans as you reach the junction. The existing lane is narrow and perhaps dangerous, but without a lane and instead a shared left turn lane the risk of hooks may increase. Also if the trees and narrow roads of this scheme are meant to slow drivers won’t they be speeding up here? How is this design handling this? It looks missed.
And the other is that cycling is not permitted into Richford Street, we have observed a number of cyclists turning into this road against the no entry sign. And can understand why, as whilst it involves some conflict it avoids the busy junction at the top of Hammersmith Grove and the pressure of traffic following you from that junction down that street. Allowing that may at least alleviate the issues at the junction of Hammersmith Grove and Goldhawk Road, but perhaps best handling the conflict there.
And there are surely the kind of cyclists on these roads that transport planners, councillors and our cycling czar often tell us they want. There are parents taking their children on these roads. There is a core to the cycling in this area from which a successful mass cycling culture could be developed, but the provision will have to improve.
So here’s a summary of our concerns – we haven’t put in our group response to the consultation as yet, but the deadline is Sunday so we encourage discussion here and for you to look at the plans and write your own response.
- There is progress here but it is limited and accompanied by some facility removal.
- No continuity in provision for cyclists on two roads which carry a large proportion of East-West cycle journeys
- All cycle lanes though 2m in width are advisory. Protection of double yellows is backed up by CCTV, would prefer genuine protected space for cycling.
- Parking and loading bays over cycle lane, due to proximity of gyratory high risk of drivers parking offside
- Junctions in particular a concern. No improvement has been made in turns off the major roads.
- Risk that this design is maintained for 20 years and falls far behind others in London and along their corridors
- Quality of entry treatments may be high but unless pavement appears continuous pedestrian experience and safety less than ideal
- Unclear where parking provision for cyclists will be focussed. Seems sensible given existing on street provision to deliver a hub style
- Safety aspects of bus depot based by Goldhawk Road Station unaddressed. Similar bus depot on Chiswick High Road has signalled entrance and exit for buses, why not here?
Thanks to Andrew Jones of the hfcyclists email group for his own submission summary on the email group, John Griffiths for his notes from early sight of the plans and Mark Treasure for spotting the council minutes. If you have comments and ideas of your own, leave a comment. If you want to be involved in what we do in Hammersmith and Fulham come and talk to us at our next meeting or the Flyunder Summit next week. Though if you can’t make either of those follow us on here and if you fancy discussion on email join our group. We’re trying to get more active members and aim to be as welcoming as possible.