Tempers Flare as Chiswick High Road Grinds to a Halt

Roadworks and strikes combine to bring traffic to a standstill

Pedestrians were moving more quickly along Chiswick High Road than motor vehicles
Pedestrians were moving more quickly along Chiswick High Road than motor vehicles

Traffic in Chiswick ground to a total standstill this Saturday afternoon (20 August) in the worst congestion seen since the roadworks on the A4 began a fortnight ago.

There appear to have been several reasons why the day was particularly bad, with traffic levels surpassing those seen the day before when there was a tube strike. Saturday marked the commencement of utility works on Acton Lane which has led to that road being closed northbound at the junction with Chiswick High Road. In addition, there was a national rail strike, which affected South Western Railway (SWR) services, and many of the buses serving the High Road were not in service due to a strike by bus drivers.

Previously westbound traffic had been the worst affected with drivers seeking to avoid queues on the A4 as it has been reduced to one lane westbound between Hogarth Roundabout and Chiswick Roundabout, but this Saturday saw queueing traffic eastbound as well.

The westbound queues appear to have been caused by delays for vehicles trying to get back onto the A4 at Chiswick Roundabout. It is understood the phase to allow vehicles to cross onto Chiswick Roundabout from Chiswick High Road has been shortened to reduce queues on the A4 and the North Circular.

At the same time queues of southbound vehicles on Sutton Court Road were reaching back to Heathfield Terrace and causing traffic back up along Town Hall Avenue.

Cyclists were not immune from the problems as side road junctions constantly had vehicles blocking the cycleway as they attempted to join queueing traffic on the High Road.

Traffic queueing near the junction with Acton Lane
Traffic queueing near the junction with Acton Lane

With temperatures reaching 26 degrees Centigrade there were many angry altercations between frustrated road users.

One man observing from a High Road café said, “There was a confrontation between a guy in a dark sports car and another in a white car. The white car was coming out of Duke Road but was making an illegal right turn across the cycleway and got stuck stopping some cyclists getting past. The sports car had blocked his way and the driver of the white car shouted something disobliging about his mother. Unfortunately for him the sports car driver was quite young, clearly loved his mother and wasn’t going anywhere because the traffic was shut. He got out of his car and started banging on the door of the white car very hard returning a couple of times to do so and demanding the other driver, who was considerably older than him got out. Then a real hero turned up, he calmly told the white car driver to stay in his car and indicated to the sports car driver there was now space for him to move ahead defusing the whole situation. I think he was just some random passer-by but when they reflect the two other parties should be very grateful to him. Despite that the white car driver seemed to berating him when he finally completed his illegal turn into the High Road.

“Literally within a minute of this, another driver was stuck in the same position coming out of Duke Road. There was a big queue going back down this road as far as I could see. This time it was the drivers behind him who were giving abuse as they clearly felt he wasn’t being aggressive enough in pushing his way onto the High Road and they were getting out of their cars to call him names.”

Confrontations between motorists broke out during the day
Confrontations between motorists broke out during the day

Another person who was on the High Road on Saturday afternoon said, “It wasn’t a very pleasant place to be, blaring horns all the time and lots of angry raised voices. Drivers at the junction of Chiswick High Road and Turnham Green Terrace were getting shouted out when they hesitated, quite rightly, to move into the yellow junction box. I walked from there to Heathfield Terrace and overtook a bus which was travelling westbound and had a two hundred yard start on me. Traffic was hardly moving in both directions.”

Google Maps showing the level of traffic in Chiswick on Saturday afternoon

Further up the High Road, bus drivers at the Stamford Brook bus garage were picketing their depot although buses from other companies that were operating were making very slow progress.

There was a service on the District line branch to Richmond despite Network Rail signallers taking industrial action and four trains an hour were running on the Hounslow Loop.

Bus drivers' picket outside Stamford Brook Bus Garage
Bus drivers' picket outside Stamford Brook Bus Garage

However, it is hoped that conditions will be better this Sunday (21 August) with only residual effects of strike action on buses, tubes and trains. The first three days of next week are expected to be challenging due to the continued closure of Acton Lane northbound.

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August 20, 2022