Hammersmith and Fulham is a borough with many fascinating statistics. The last council would often make reference to it being the 4th smallest borough in the country, and also noted that it suffered 2.1 million hours lost in traffic per mile of road per year with some of the most congested roads in the country.
Clearly a lot of traffic – especially motorised traffic – is trying to squeeze onto a contended network. Hammersmith and Fulham is also seeing a rise in population (up 12% since 2001 to 145,552 in 2011) and the number of households (up 7% since 2001 to 80,590 in 2011).
So where do we find the space to make things better for those who are on foot or cycle? Surely the space we might need is and will always be full of this traffic? We don’t think so, and recent census figures show the way things are going:
There are fewer cars or vans in the borough than there used to be and a declining section of the population have access to them. Indeed, where in 2001 49% had no access to a motorised private vehicle, now it’s 55% and in some wards as high as 65%. This also means that there should be some space available for some of the things we’re asking for which may depend upon converting car parking into cycle parking or restricting car movements or parking to help provide safe space at junctions.
Fewer vehicles then, but does that equal less traffic? Nothing as comprehensive as the census exists to know, but we can see similar declines in the regular counts on main roads. Note that although cycling shows a growth it isn’t consistent and it seems plausible that some of the growth that was on main roads is now avoiding them, perhaps due to conditions, or is poorly counted.
More robust is the trend in motor vehicles. Buses are the only real growth, and they are striking, growing about 20%. Meanwhile both cars and goods vehicles have declined.
The decline in car traffic in Hammersmith and Fulham is particularly striking at 18%. Surely the borough needs more of a strategy for those who cycle and walk? This is why we ask for Space for Cycling. We are not asking for trends to be changed, rather for them to be understood, catered to and encouraged where they help broader goals on health and wellbeing. If those who are happy to cycle as things are today are cycling more often, surely there are many more who would join them if cycling were an experience more like that our continental neighbours experience.