United Kingdom

Timelapse video shows barely any cyclists using low traffic cycle lane in Chiswick as motorists rage

A timelapse video shot on a busy London road has left motorists furious as a newly installed cycle lane remained largely unused for more than an hour. 

Shot in the affluent suburb of Chiswick, the hour-long footage condensed into less than a minute shows traffic piling up on the Chiswick High Road as a bi-directional cycle lane remains largely unused.

To add to the fury of motorists, the road was only recently transformed from a three-lane thoroughfare to a two-lane road with the accompanying partition for cyclists.

The new layout of Chiswick High Road, given the green light by Hounslow Council in 2019, forms part of London Mayor Sadiq Khan's controversial plan for a 'cycle superhighway' in the capital.

Residents in the leafy London suburb have also hit out at the disruption caused by Cycleway 9, which was given the green light by the Labour-run council two years ago.

Previously, similar videos have shown emergency service vehicles or elderly and disabled people facing challenges with the introduction of controversial low traffic neighbourhoods.  

And Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick has previously added her voice to the debate, saying how LTNs delay her force's response times.

Chiswick High Road used to be three lanes wide but has gone down to two since a new, permanent bi-directional cycle lane was installed

The video footage shows frustrated motorists forced to sit and wait as a largely empty cycle lane on Chiswick's Cycleway 9 remained unused for over an hour. 

Many of the controversial new cycle lanes form part of Transport for London’s government funded Street Space scheme, which is designed to encourage people to walk or cycle to work and school as an alternative to public transport following the easing of lockdown. 

But tempers in the leafy suburb of Chiswick reached boiling point after the main road was transformed into a two-lane carriageway with an accompanying cycle lane in 2019.  

The result? Chaos for motorists who have been squeezed into fewer lanes and left raging as they can see a largely ignored route for cyclists.

The video comes as the BBC's Jeremy Vine tweeted about the area earlier this week, causing a backlash for those who oppose the pro-cycling measures. 

Furious Chiswick residents and business owners have hit out at the LTNs, with one popular petition launched by a local seemingly on the way to the High Court.

Met chief: Lanes are slowing down police 

Dame Cressida Dick has said low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) delay police response times.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said yesterday the schemes make it 'harder' for officers to 'get through the streets'. One officer said LTNs would stop him 'chasing four people with machetes'.

Speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari radio show, she said: 'I absolutely accept that it is really getting quite difficult for them in some places and our response times will suffer. And that's frustrating for them.

'On the other hand it may be other people's deaths are reduced . . . trying to make our cities safer for cyclists, pedestrians and less pollution.'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants to press ahead with traffic reduction plans, but a High Court ruling in January found his guidance to town halls was 'unlawful' and 'irrational'.

Margie Frew of One Chiswick, has found 10,000 supporters who are helping her to fight back against Hounslow Council's anti-car measures - as she also hopes for a judicial review at the High Court. 

Another resident, Lorraine Nepstad, emphatically referred to the lanes as 'the rape of Chiswick'. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has planned for 160miles of 'safer cycle routes' as part of his controversial 'cycle superhighway'. 

Across the country, councils have been using emergency transport powers launched last May: a £250 million initiative to encourage people to travel on bicycles and minimise public transport during the pandemic. 

Nationally, more than 200 so-called 'low-traffic neighbourhoods' (LTNs) have been implemented. 

Amid accusations the schemes only cause more congestion and polluting tailbacks on main roads, plans for similar zones from Brighton to Tyne and Wear have been scrapped.

In these LTNs, roads have been closed to motorists with permanent bollards and planters.

The emergency services have also struggled to navigate through them, and elderly and disabled people face new challenges in doing something as simple as trying to board a bus. 

Public transport now has to stop on the inside traffic lane, meaning passengers have to cross the cycle lane to reach the pavement.

Meanwhile, parking spaces on key shopping streets have been removed to accommodate the cycling route. 

Cycleway 9 was plunged into controversy this week as BBC broadcaster Jeremy Vine tweeted about the safe cycling measures in the area.

But in his hasty tweet about the curious incident of the tulips in the night-time, Vine unleashed a wave of fury for those on the other side of the debate.

An animated video posted online shows a heat-seeking missile being launched at the Outsider Tart Bakery and cafe on Chiswick High Road, whose owner has been a vocal opponent of the new cycling scheme. 

David Lesniak, the owner of the Outsider Tart Bakery and cafe said debate with pro-cycling groups was not an option.

He added: 'It is harassment and bullying. We need to hold these people to account.'

Broadcaster Jeremy Vine tweeted last week to his 760,000 followers about the abuse pro-cycling campaigner Karen Liebreich had received 

After the broadcaster shared a picture of the ruined flowers, a JustGiving page was set up to raise £100 so Ms Liebreich could replace the flowers

Sally Price, who runs local interior design shop Insider Dealings, told us it now takes her 25 minutes to drive along Chiswick High Road, adding: 'That is going to be off-putting to my customers.' 

Muriel Langley lives in Home House, a 100-flat residential complex for elderly people close to Chiswick High Road. 

'Since the cycle lanes were put in, I've found it almost impossible to walk across the road with my walker,' she told the Mail. 

'I used to be able to walk across slowly and then stop in one of the refuges. But they've gone now — to make way for the bikes. It's very dangerous.'

Dame Cressida Dick said low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) make it 'harder' for officers to 'get through the streets'

Hounslow councillor Hanif Khan told the Mail the LTN scheme is now under review, adding: 'Once the review has considered all the feedback and evidence, we will decide which Streetspace [LTN] trials will be made permanent and which removed or amended.' 

But this isn't an issue that's unique to Chiswick.

Nationally, pop-up cycle lanes set up as part a £225million plan to get Britain moving again are lying empty while traffic is squeezing onto narrowed streets.  

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