Forum Topic

There is a danger of getting into an argument about semantics rather than transport here.There has undisputedly been a change in modal share but this is primarily down to the effects of the pandemic rather than C9. Like so many traffic measures undertaken during lockdown it is very difficult to reach firm conclusions about what is going on.What modal shift is taking place is difficult to know but WFH has driven down both car use and public transport use. Not sure whether a change from a form of transport to not using any transport at all is classed as modal shift but what we don't know is, going forward will this be a temporary or permanent change. As for cycling it has held up better as a proportion of trips than other forms of transport. Quibbles about whether the numbers have risen or fallen are pointless at the moment other that we can now say with some certainty that TFL's trumpeting of a 72% increase in cycling due to C9 was misleading. That said I do thing cycling in Chiswick as opposed to cycling on Chiswick High Road has increased significantly because commuter cyclists are diverting away from C9.I don't think anyone can sensibly argue that C9 hasn't brought with it extra congestion particularly west of Acton Lane and east of Chiswick Lane so the disbenefits of its installation are clear. I'll repeat, that if the claimed benefit of C9 is that it has significantly increased cycle journeys that will fail the most cursory review which will occur when Andrew Gilligan is no longer running transport policy for the government and C9 will be ripped up. The argument in favour needs to be recalibrated to stress the increase in the number of people in Chiswick cycling and how this has been above the increases seen in other parts of London. I believe this has happened but unfortunately no figures seem to be available to prove it is the case.

Mark Evans ● 31d

I don't normally post on this forum, but since you’ve decided to involve my name in this debate, allow me to set the record straight on a few points.
Firstly, yes I’m a member of the One Chiswick Facebook group - along with c.2,000 other people who disagree with the ill-considered schemes being inflicted upon Chiswick by Hounslow Council.
However I don’t have any other connection to the organisation, and I’m certainly not in a position to influence what information they do or do not publicise.
Secondly, as a resident of Chiswick High Road, I’m one of those most impacted on a day-to-day basis by Cycleway 9. Like many others, I’m sick of the spin, the misleading use of statistics, and the overblown claims made in support of this scheme.
I’ve therefore made several FOI requests on my own initiative to find out whether some of those claims stand up to closer scrutiny. All of these requests (and the information released in response) are in the public domain and freely accessible to anyone.
Lastly, the data that TfL supplied in response to this FOI request comes from a new digital camera monitoring system installed at several junctions along CHR. There were some inconsistencies in the data which I had asked TfL to clarify before drawing any conclusions from it.
TfL have responded today with those clarifications - you can see the full details here:
They have stated that only data from the “cycle lane” sensors should be used to count the numbers of cyclists, as the sensors monitoring the carriageway near the junction with Turnham Green Terrace are “not currently optimised for counting cyclists”.
The data from the 2 “cycle lane” sensors indicates an average of 1,795 daily cyclists per weekday on Chiswick High Road (TGT junction) between April and August 2021 - 6% fewer than were recorded in the DfT count in 2018.

If the number of cyclists has not increased, how can these figures provide evidence of "modal shift"?

John Balmond ● 32d

Tom, you do seem to be determined to get TfL off on a technicality. While the number they gave earlier for the increase in cycling due to C9 may have been true in the narrowest sense they were bogus because they gave a deliberately misleading impression that it compared before and after for the cycleway. Big increases in cycling on Chiswick High Road because of C9 were reported uncritically by some of the media including the Evening Standard.We now know this isn't true and cycling may actually have fallen. I've been saying since before these numbers were published that it would be mistake to focus on the top line cycle journey numbers. As far as I can see the success that C9 is having is encouraging an increase uptake in cycling including mainly for leisure purposes. This may yield longer term benefits as people progress to making more regular work related journeys but it will take time.Modal shift is not the same as change in proportions of vehicle type. There is no evidence of a modal shift from bikes to cars. There will have been a modal shift from public transport to bikes because of people wishing to protect themselves from catching Covid but not enough to bring about an overall increase in bike use in the area.The point Michael is missing about travel cards is that if you own one there is no marginal financial benefit from cycling to work but if you don't you save on the pay as you go fare every time you do. Buying a travel card isn't really worth it if you are not commuting daily so hybrid working should have provided an extra boost to a modal shift from public transport to cycling.We don't know yet whether these changes are permanent but hopefully irregular cycle commuters now become daily commuters when they are back in the office full-time.

Mark Evans ● 33d

I think the shift to WFH can be overstated - the latest ONS figures show it is only 7% higher than it was pre-pandemic. It may be that the kind of jobs done by people who might cycle to work are more likely to be hybrid working but even then there will still be a significant number travelling to work. Andrew makes an excellent point about travel costs which suggests hybrid working should boost cycle commuting because the cost per day of using public transport goes up if you are not using it every day.It may be that much of the change in the numbers is down to unrecognised depopulation rather than changed working patterns. London notoriously had some of the lowest vaccination rates in the UK but now is well below the average for Covid infections. That probably means lots of people have left the country due to Brexit but remained registered with a GP.What ever the cause we can all now agree that the 72% growth claims made by TfL were bogus. This new nonsense about modal shift also seems a bit desperate but even if you accept most elevated claim for proportion of bikes going down Chiswick High Road there will still be at least 50 people doing the same journey on a bus for everyone of them.Overblown claims for the success of C9 are likely to be counterproductive. When a less supportive regime is in charge at Westminster there will be more scrutiny of how well it is achieving its aims. If the objective is to deliver a significant and immediate shift to cycling it is failing therefore it would be better to make clear the objective is not to increase the number of cycle journeys but the number of cyclists and it does this by providing infrastructure that makes people feel safe. Success by this measure will not be achieved this week but will take years so patience would be needed.

Mark Evans ● 34d

Andrew, Pointing out that commuting numbers are down compared to before the pandemic is hardly a surprise.  A graph showing numbers of people using public transport before and after the pandemic would show exactly the same. April 2018 numbers are from a DfT survey on Chiswick High Road which is the best publicly available data from before the pandemic. The 2021 numbers are from a Freedom of Information request, you should be able to find it on the FOI section of TfL website.  The FOI request was done by a member of OneChiswick.  Funnily enough, OneChiswick hasn't publicised the data.  Perhaps a revelation that the pandemic has affected commuting numbers was not even news to them. What perhaps is more interesting is the increase of people using the cycle route during the "inter peak" period. This perhaps shows more people WFH and using the cycle route to visit CHR during the day. It is a mistake to concentrate on commuting anyway given this only represents a minority of journeys in London. Separating out weekday and weekend figures shows good usage at weekends. 
Another interesting point is modal share of bikes and cars.  Even in 2018 this was 20% (1 bike for every 4 cars) while in 2021 some monthly averages have reached 33% (one bike for every 2 days) and daily averages reached 40% on some days.
Given the lane on Chiswick High Rd is only 1.2km and doesn't have a good connection yet to the east, numbers should further increase when the route is extended in Hammersmith and Fulham.  It really won't be a surprise next year if there are days when bikes outnumber cars. Good news.

Michael Robinson ● 35d