Masum Choudhury (Head of Transport), introduced the report and noted that levels of walking and cycling had increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, after the Government issued rules and guidance instructing people to avoid public transport and to stay at home to control the spread of the virus. On 9th May the Government announced that Councils should reallocate road space to accommodate significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians.
It was noted that following the Governments advice and to ensure that a prompt response was delivered in response to the crisis, the Council installed temporary cycle lanes in the borough. More than two miles of pop-up cycle lanes had been marked out with barriers from King Street at the border with Chiswick, around Hammersmith Gyratory and down Hammersmith Road to Olympia, using more than 3,500 barriers. In addition, new temporary cycle lanes had been installed on Wood lane and at Shepherds Bush Green. The existing policy context for transport, climate change and public realm remained a key driver for change both locally and regionally. It was noted that a report (Appendix 1) was presented at the GOLD meeting and to the Senior Leadership Team on 5th May 2020 and 11th May 2020 respectively. This report set outlined the Council’s transport response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the revised delivery approach.
SolomonCastillo (Highways, Parks and Waste), provided a presentations of cycle route 9 (along King Street and Hammersmith Road) and cycle route 10 (along Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush Green and Wood Lane). He showed slides that outlined some of the detail that went into designing the temporary cycle routes. Feedback from members of the public and businesses, was being used to make changes to temporary schemes such as alterations for accessibility, loading or bus stops. These would continue to be reviewed and design changes incorporated before installing semi-permanent materials.
Councillor Iain Cassidy (Walking, Cycling and Healthy Streets Champion) noted that there had been a significant increase in the number of people cycling in London and the rest of the UK since the lockdown measures were put in place. This had been supported by anecdotal data and many bike retailers had also reported a spike in sales. He asked what could be done to monitor the number of people cycling in Hammersmith and Fulham. Masum Choudhury agreed that there was currently a lot of anecdotal information on the uptake of cycling. Officers would need to review options on how a monitoring strategy could be implemented. This would include carrying out hard traffic counts in the borough to produce data driven evidence to support the reported increase in cycling.
Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler said that many people in the borough chose not to cycle and were not supportive of the temporary cycle lanes. She felt that the temporary fixtures were not appropriate for car users, causing traffic issues and restricting accessibility into the borough. In addition, she felt that those who were shielding and were at higher risk were more likely to revert back to using cars instead of public transport when returning to work. Therefore, car usage in the borough would be expected to increase and this also needed to be factored into the planning and implementation stages.
Masum Choudhury (Head of Transport) explained that the Council was not intending to restrict people from making essential car journeys. However, this was an opportunity for people to have the option to use other modes of travel particularly when making local journeys if they were able to do so. However, it was important for the Council to consider how the elderly and disabled people would be impacted by this. Therefore, feedback was being gathered from all stakeholder groups around accessibility issues and this would be reviewed and factored into the plan.
Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler asked for clarification to be provided on the Council’s plan for semi-permanent fixtures and when the traffic order for the temporary cycle lanes was due to expire.
Councillor Wesley Harcourt (Cabinet Member for the Environment) explained that as the pandemic took effect, the volume of motorized traffic decreased whilst the number of cyclists increased. As a result, this had improved air quality and reduced traffic in the borough. The Government was keen to increase the number of people cycling and walking across London and urged Council’s to support this policy to maintain the reduction of carbon emissions and improve public safety. The temporary cycle lanes were implemented as a response to this and the measures were introduced on a temporary basis, although depending on their success could become semi-permanent.
Masum Choudhury (Head of Transport) explained that the traffic orders were applied under the Council’s existing emergency powers within the Traffic Management Act 2004 on a temporary basis (between 6-18 months). The Council also had the authority to extend the traffic orders should this be necessary.
Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler requested that full details be circulated to Committee members explaining, under what powers the temporary cycle lanes were installed and the Council’s plan to making these semi-permanent.
Councillor Iain Cassidy commented that a charity called Wheels for Wellbeing which provided adapted bikes to people with disability, had reported that many disabled people were able to safely access cycling when the appropriate measures were in place. He felt that overall the installation of the temporary cycle lanes had a positive impact on the way disabled people moved across the borough, noting that when you build good quality infrastructure people were more likely to make safer cycle journeys.
The Chair noted that there were some concerns around the travel direction of the cycle lanes and asked if improved signage would be put up to ensure members of the public were using them correctly. Masum Choudhury said that the cycle lanes did go up very quickly, however since then, improvements had been made and additional signage and markings had been put up along the entire route.
The Chair asked if Officers had consulted all groups representing the visually impaired and blind residents in the borough as some groups reported that they had not been contacted when the temporary cycle lanes were put up. Masum Choudhury said that he would need to check with the relevant officers to ascertain which resident groups had been contacted. The Chair said it was important to ensure that these resident groups were notified of any changes, particularly if these took place within close proximately of their home addresses and impacted them directly.
The Chair asked if there had been any reported accidents since the temporary cycle lanes were erected. In response Masum Choudhury noted that he was not aware of any incidents that had taken place. However, this was actively being monitored by Officers.
Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler requested for the Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) figures for the last 6 months along the cycle lane routes within the borough be circulated to Committee members for review. Masum Choudhury said that the Council did not currently have access to the KSI figures and would receive these later in the year from the Police. However, would circulate the causality data that had already been submitted to the Council.
THAT the Committee noted and commented on the report.