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Some random thoughts about cycling in Chiswick (and beyond)

Simon Hayes had a good post on the bike theft thread, and since continuing on that one felt a bit like derailing the topic I thought of opening up a new one. After all, it's Chiswick's most popular past time, isn't it?Here are some random thoughts from myself about how to make the coexistence between human-powered and engine-powered vehicles a bit easier in town. I should point out that my point of view is of an adult man who cycles for pleasure and to/from work, averaging 200km/week. So my needs and requirements aren't the same as, say, a young teenager who cycles to and from school, or a person just nipping to the shops. Cyclists, much like motorists, come in different shapes and sizes.I think life is a matter of giving and taking; there are rights and duties, so I'll split my thoughts on cyclists' 'duties' and 'rights', taking some of Simon's ideas along the way if that's OK.DUTIESLike Simon, I think registration plates for bikes is a solution in search of a problem. Say you implement them... then what? You put in speed cameras for bikes? Well, how does the speed camera tells a bike from a car... or where do you fit the registration? Insurance is a good one. I get why the occasional user might not need it, but if one uses a bike to commute, or for work, then insurance is definitely a must. Not only bikes can be expensive (especially those for deliveries or to stuff kids into on the way to school), but it's also in the rider's interest. I'm fully covered in case of accidents, because it's all but guaranteed that if I'm hit by anything I'll have the worst. A test on how to ride wouldn't be bad; sometimes I see some behaviours that are just puzzling. Simon also talks about a licence, but as far as I'm aware drivers aren't required to carry theirs (I might be wrong?) so why the double standard. I'm not sure an MOT-like activity is required. A bike, in its simplest form, has very few moving parts and in the event of a malfunction what happens is that you become stationary. Lights and helmet, though, are a must in London, and I think they should be on at all times. It's just too bloody dangerous here. It just is. I think there must be a need for some more enforcing of the rules too.  I'd be inclined to say that little Polly, aged 5 and a half, should be able to ride on the pavement, and that in some cases an argument can be made about red lights - how many pedestrians jump the red, or jaywalk, when no one's around?. And, obviously, filtering through a queue of cars is totally legal. If you're stuck in a jam in your car and you see a cyclist pass by on your right then you shouldn't throw a cigarette butt at him (as one lovely gentleman did) but perhaps you could copy said cyclist. But there must be better enforcement and fines against a lot of the most egregious scenes I often see - like crossing through busy junctions with a red, overtaking from the left, mounting on the pavement at speed, and more. RIGHTSHere's a loose list observations of behaviours I constantly see in Chiswick and upper parts of Brentford. I cycle to the Heathrow area and it'll be surprising to many that a lot of the problems I encounter in Chiswick do not, with a few exceptions, get replicated in Hounslow or Isleworth.Overtaking: please give some space. It's rather terrifying to be almost-clipped, it really is, especially when a driver attempts the maneuver before a traffic island and then realises there's no space. Over time I found that lorry drivers, bus drivers, van drivers and Uber/Bolt drivers are amongst the most considerate road users. Black cab drivers, instead, almost clip me with incredible regularity, even when there's no need, and I've had to have a word with some more than once. I'm not an angry cyclist, I tend to live and let live, but it feels as if they're doing it on purpose. In Chiswick, I find that big SUV or Audi drivers tend to almost scrape me.Giving right of way: be it at a roundabout, or when turning into a road, it feels as if I'm either invisible or irrelevant. I've had cars pull in front of me, missing me by a metre, and yesterday on CHR at the corner with the Clayton Hotel I was almost hit by a man with a black Mercedes who said "I have the right of way" as he cut me to join the queue of cars trying to reach Chiswick Roundabout. Bottom line: I know you don't want to have to overtake the cyclist, but by cutting through in front of him/her you risk killing that person. This applies to turning into a street, or a roundabout, or at a junction... I might have less wheels than you and a 0.5hp engine, but I'm still a vehicle!Not checking when crossing the road/stepping into the bike lane. This is a normal occurrence on C9 on the A205. There's a school nearby, I think, plus the footfall from the train station; it's normal for people not to cross on the zebra crossing, or to casually saunter into the bike lane without checking. Please watch. Or, if not, listen. I know some have complained, on this forum, about cyclists shouting at them: I do it too, and it's for a simple reason. No one, literally NO ONE, reacts to a bell and, secondly, if I'm using the bell I don't have both hands on the breaks. I'd rather shout 'watch out', break and stop than ring a stupid bell like it's Liberation Day and hit you.That's it, hopefully this triggers some positive conversation.

Francis Sheehan ● 19d57 Comments ● 14d

Plans for Chiswick High Road, not Old Market Place

Plans for Chiswick High Road, not Old Market Place.Monday 10 October, Robbie Williams 2nd night at the O2, but according to local media there was an event held to discuss proposals for Old Market Place at George IV pub, Chiswick High Road.  Robbie was brilliant.From reading the write up, more like minutes, in the Chiswick Calendar, it seems as though some initial decent thought had gone into modernising the area, which is to be welcomed.  It is quite clear that the Chiswick Flower Market has largely been positively embraced. It is less clear, that this is the case for the Cheese market and in particular the Antiques market. In looking back to the 1920s when a street market moved indoors before closing, getting the balance right between street markets and shops needs to be carefully thought through.  From the Chiswick Calendar minutes there does seem to be two points of clear frustration from the write up that stood out.  Firstly, proper inclusive Chiswick wide consultation is required, alternative points of view and ideas need to be heard and acted on.  There is a clear sense from the note that this has not been done yet, but the Resident Associations are willing to help.  A fair question for example is should there be weekends off, or a market every weekend? Second, is that Old Market Place does not exist but for some reason street signs have been put up.  From anyone who attended the event, it would be useful to know where and why these signs were put up?  From the write up it says Cllr Gerald McGregor pointed out that it was illegal to have done so.  At least there is recognition that they need to come down, but evident frustration expressed in the phrase” The trouble with public consultation is that you do get some ludicrous results” and reference to “Boaty McBoatface”.  The same is true if no proper consultation happens ask Liz Truss.  It appears quite clear that proper process needs to be followed.  Why anyone would potentially ignore, not know or want to get round these processes seems very odd.  From reading the report the lesson from the evening is clear: a good start but going forward consultation is important and needs to be done properly and in deference to Robbie’s former bandmates a little “Patience” will be required.

Jonathan Mabbutt ● 52d182 Comments ● 16d

Yu (seless) Energy

Has anyone else had the misfortune to deal with the cowboys at Yu Energy? We let out an area of a building to a small amateur football club as changing rooms, whose electricity usage is, by its nature, infrequent and relatively low. When our previous supplier went belly-up last November we were devolved onto Yu Energy, who since then have refused to accept actual meter readings that did not agree with their wild over-estimates (even when backed up with photos of the meter), taken direct debits twelve times the actual amount due, and in their latest scam, have increased the daily charge from 19.36p per day to £6.49. Obviously I have queried this increase with their misnamed Customer Care department, who promised an explanation ten days ago. Instead, I was woken up this morning by a call from their Credit Control department asking why I had not paid their October bill. I explained and was told I needed to call their Sales team. The first call I was cut off as I was explaining why I was calling. This happened again on the second attempt. At the third go I finally got someone to listen and was told it was not a matter for Sales I needed to contact Customer Care, but all their lines were busy. Instead I have e-mailed them again and wait to see if I get any sort of sensible response this time round. I am posting this as a warning - if anyone suggests Yu Energy to you as a supplier of electricity, my advice is to scream and run the other way.

Richard Greenhough ● 20d3 Comments ● 19d

HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE FUTURE OF CHISWICK

I recently attended the meeting in Chiswick Town Hall regarding Hounslow's 'vision' of Chiswick. What a sham their half baked attempts at consultation are. The meeting was attended by various officials including Kate Hall. Enclosed below a letter from her to a friend and my response. Note in the letter from Kate there are links to subscribe to their mailing list as well as comment on the online consultation (another sham that doesn't really explain very much). Please have your say.
Dear Kate, I recently attended your event with a friend at Chiswick Town Hall and just wanted to respond to your e mail below.
I am sorry to say I find your letter empty and insincere. We discovered last week that Hounslow's Vision is based on a ‘consultation’ which none of us received or completed, on which we were not leafleted, although you as Head of Economic Recovery and Regeneration claimed we were, and the ‘results’ and vision are based on 1,600 responses. Dubious at the very least. When you were questioned regarding the leafleting you insisted it had happened … how would you know anyway … were you omnipresent in every residence in Chiswick and saw the leaflet drop on the doormat?
No you weren’t and I repeat the residents of Chiswick were not informed, and yet you press ahead insisting that it’s all about what ‘we’ want. A very healthy dose of B/S I would say. Regarding your comments in your letter:
Thank you for the reminder but you’re just ticking boxes. You haven’t checked back with the Chiswick community, you have merely spoken to a handful of people who miraculously found out you were meeting at the town hall. Furthermore what real relevance does your 2021 engagement have? I think you mentioned around 1,600 respondents. This is not checking back with the community, it is a sham just so you can say you have, but you have not. You have failed to reach out to the community you claim to represent, you have not bothered to make sure you reach out to us - you pretend you have and make wild claims such as taking into account the community’s view when the reality is it’s just a mere fraction of the community.
You didn’t even put me on the mailing list for this letter, I saw it through the grapevine! Evidence again or your appalling due diligence.
You say you want to understand the community’s views but if you really wanted to do this you would make sure you engaged with us properly. It is merely an empty comment that ticks your boxes. 
You say you want to ensure residents, visitors and local businesses all have the opportunity to review the vision document and the proposals. Honestly Kate this is truly pathetic and an emtpy comment with no value. If you really wanted to make sure all residents, visitors and businesses have an opportunity to respond you would therefore MAKE SURE it happens. This is called accountability Kate. I’m not sure you understand the concept of accountability but If you want to make sure something happens then you create e mechanism that MAKES SURE it happens. It really is that simple … but instead all you do is employ empty phrases with no action behind it. 
Kind regards, Anthony Letterese




From: Tom Brooks <Tom.Brooks@hounslow.gov.uk> 
Sent: 11 November 2022 17:26
To: Town Centre Management <TownCentre.Management@hounslow.gov.uk>
Subject: Re-imagining our town centres - Chiswick Vision - Autumn 2022   Hello    Thank you for your time at the in-person conversation on the Chiswick Town Centre Vision last week at the Town Hall and for leaving your contact details so we can keep you updated and involved. We were really pleased to see so many people passionate about the future of their town centre.    As a reminder the purpose of this phase of engagement is to check back with the Chiswick communities on the Chiswick Town Centre Vision document and the proposals put forward during the 2021 engagement and which are compiled in it under the themes that were important to the community. We want to understand the community’s views on which of the proposals are the most important and could be the most impactful for Chiswick and delivering the vision.  From this we will compile a delivery plan based on those priorities, and identify partners to work with on the proposals.    An online survey is now available HERE. This survey takes you through the same prioritisation process carried out at the in-person event so you do not need to complete again if you responded on paper. However please do pass on the link to friends, neighbours and colleagues, we want to ensure residents, visitors and local businesses all have the opportunity to review the vision document and the proposals within it. We will be promoting it via all our usual channels.    Many of you were not aware of the weekly council e-newsletter that goes out.  This link allows you to sign up for that, as well as any other e-bulletins that interest you -  Sign up for email updates | Get Connected | London Borough of Hounslow .  Once you click through the link, you will be asked for your email address and then you can choose which topics of interest you want to select.    Next steps: all the in-person and online responses will be compiled over the next couple of months into a draft vision delivery plan.  This will take into account the Chiswick communities’views on the prioritisation of the proposals and put them into a phased plan to secure investment.    If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch   Kind Regards   Kate    Kate Bull  Head of Economic Recovery and Regeneration  Housing, Planning and Economic Regeneration  London Borough of Hounslow 3rd Floor, Hounslow House, 7 Bath Road, Hounslow, TW3 3EB Tel: 020 8583 3729

Anthony Letterese ● 22d46 Comments ● 20d

Who do the ruling elite of LB Hounslow represent?

One has to doubt that the Council leadership and officers of LB Hounslow have any ability or desire to understand the people of Chiswick and how they wish to live their lives. Time and time again they decide what is best for residents and businesses while claiming to ‘listen” (do you remember Councillor Khan) yet consistently do no such thing and ignore feedback and majority opinion. I understand that a typical example of this took place earlier today when the traders of Devonshire Road met an officer from the traffic department to request that the three weeks of works on the C9 cycleway that require Devonshire Road to be closed, and severely disrupted, be delayed until after Christmas. Now, any sensible person who has a basic understanding of both the retail and hospitality businesses knows that the two months leading up to Christmas are very important for all traders, many of whom are struggling anyway at present due to the cost-of-living crisis and their own energy costs. Hence, you would feel that the request for a delay in the works by our local traders, which they have carefully considered as being justified in terms of protecting fragile trading conditions, would be sympathetically understood by the officers of LB Hounslow. But no, the officer at the meeting, faced by traders who by all accounts were getting rather angry, consistently refused to consider a delay and do you know what a core part of his reasoning was? – to delay the works would confuse the cyclists using Chiswick High Road!!  A clear statement about where the Council's priorities lie?  Basically, the ruling elite of LB Hounslow, who have been made aware of this emerging problem for many weeks now, continue to display little regard for Chiswick or the people within the area and continue to act with impunity with their self-serving, narrow agendas and without local accountability.  The people of Chiswick deserve better.

David Kerr ● 26d57 Comments ● 22d

We must kerb the Scallywags shoplifting,fare dodging and thieving.

Its seems that shop staff and others are afraid to challenge shoplifters for fear of receiving injuries or more.I observed a scuffy chap..with no socks...taking food and drink from Marks and Spencers shelving... then pretend to settle his bill at the self service check out and then proceed to leave by the back exit. I told three hefty male staff at the back of the Store to curtail their chatter and to chase the scalleywag."Oh no ,we're not allow to apprehened shoppers. I reported the matter to the Manager. He too said we mustn't challenge them. Call the Police? (Waste of time?).So businesses on OUR HIGH STREET ARE HAVING TO TOLERATE THESE SCALLEYWAGS. At Chiswick Park Station I observe a chap crash through the double sized exit barrier without showing his ticket.I asked the Station chap.in the small cabin .next to the barrier and he reported that such crass behavior happens all the time...maybe 20 plus a day. Loss of income to the Tube?Earlier I had watched a scuffy lady jump on a 91H.bus at Lampton.She used the side intentionally.She also was consuming an open can of alcohol. I told the bus driver..but unlike some..took no action. When I challenged the girl as she got off at Clayponds Lane...her utterances were the usual.Bicycle thefts are another bain of peoples lives. Our Police Commander says "Things will get worse"Cllr MacGregor reports.on the headaches of such behavior.Hounslow town is bad enough. Is there a creep towards Chiswick? Creep? The scalleywags are already here.

Jim Lawes ● 24d30 Comments ● 23d

Good progress on Hammersmith Bridge

Below is an informative article from The Barnes Village Bugle.After a period of silence, this month there is much to tell about progress with the works at Hammersmith Bridge.The pedestals have been stabilised with bespoke concrete, a planning application is being prepared for the double decker temporary bridge-within-a-bridge solution and the suggestion of a toll to drive across the bridge is being forcefully opposed by Conservative councillors in Wandsworth. As ever, we have provided links for those people who want to get a more in depth understanding of the latest developments, but we’ve given a quick summary of the main points below. Stabilising the bridgeThe key problems with the safety of the bridge are twofold. Firstly, the cracks that have been discovered in the four cast iron pedestals which bear the weight of the structure and, secondly, the seizing up of components in the chains themselves. A major milestone has been reached in making the pedestals safe this month with the pouring of a specially formulated concrete into the pedestals’ hollow centres. As anyone who has ever watched Grand Designs knows, concrete pours are tricky. And this particular concrete pour had no margin for error. The specialist magazine New Civil Engineer has given a genuinely fascinating account of the operation and you can read it here. The magazine’s article also revealed that the next stage of the process - the attachment of steel reinforcements – requires a consignment of steel, the shipment of which was delayed by the Ukraine war.For an even more in-depth explanation of what’s happening with the bridge stabilisation project there’s a handy 20 minute video to check out. The double decker temporary solutionThe same magazine, New Civil Engineer, (we’re big fans) has also given much more detail of the proposed double decker bridge-within-a-bridge temporary solution. The temporary structure running above the existing deck of the bridge would allow pedestrians and motorists to cross while permanent repairs are carried out to the bridge both on and off site. Elements of the bridge, like the decking, that need repair, would be lifted away using the temporary bridge as a works platform and transported by barges to an off-site facility for safer and easier repair and restoration. The temporary bridge would have a pedestrian and cyclists span and a vehicle ramp above. At first, pedestrians and cyclists would use the vehicle ramp to cross while the lower level was used by workers removing the decking. Once the deck of the bridge has been safely removed the lower level will be used by pedestrians and cyclists. Cars would then be able to use the upper level. The next question is when will work start on this solution? Well before anything happens the planning hurdle needs to be jumped and the Hammersmith Society reports that before work can begin a gas main will need to be diverted at the cost of £5million. The society’s newsletter concludes after outlining the next stages that “an apocryphal story floating around social media that the bridge will be open to motorised traffic by Christmas seems rather wide of the mark.” Toll fee rumblingsThe website Putney SW15 reports that Conservative Councillors in Wandsworth have “slammed” Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s plans to charge drivers a toll to use the bridge once it is repaired. H&FC have repeatedly said that raising funds via a toll is the only solution to getting the bridge repaired. The government has said that the council must fund a third of the repair costs leaving it to find between £33 and £47 million. It can’t raise council tax to do this (there are legal constraints on what it can do) so the council contends its only option is to charge a toll. The most controversial element of the toll plan is that H&FC only wants to charge a toll to those people who don’t live in Hammersmith and Fulham.  H&FC council tax payers will apparently get to cross the bridge for free.

Adrian Irving ● 27d14 Comments ● 23d

@standardnews peddling Kremlin talking points

The Evening Standard has published a story today about what they call Joe Biden's 'latest gaffe' in which he said 'Falluja' when he should have read Kherson.The article doesn't mention that Biden was giving a press conference after the mid terms in which he answered questions for about half an hour. I watched it from start to finish. He addressed every question fully and articulately without notes making complex points in way we never see from British politicians. He did so with grace and good humour. This came at the end of what would have presumably been a gruelling few days.The Falluja mistake was the only substantive error duing all this time and he immediately corrected it. It is almost definitely the case that he made the reference because he would have recently received a briefing of the possibility of the Russians leaving units not wearing uniforms inside Kherson to bog the Ukrainians down in brutal urban warfare.Otherwise he spoke with a fluency and exactness that few of us would be capable and which certainly bears no comparison to the spluttering incoherence of Trump.It is obviously not ideal that the best candidate the democrats can put forward at this stage for President is a man in his eighties and no one can say what his condition will be in six years time when he would still be president if he got a second term but, right now he appears on top of his game.The false claim that Biden has dementia is a line that is being pushed aggressively by Russian troll farms and their bots on social media. The Kremlin wants Biden out because of his robust support for the Ukrainians. It therefore should be of profound concern to all of us that London's main newspaper is picking up and running with this. It is worth remembering that it is owned and operated by the Lebedevs. Lebedev senior is a former KGB agent and confident of Putin and his son, the preposterous Baron Siberia, is the one who subverted our government by compromising Boris Johnson at parties at his Italian villa.There should be no doubt that these agents of a hostile foreign power are hiding in plain site but still doing the bidding of their masters and funders in Moscow to manipulate democratic processes in the west. If the police aren't going to investigate them then a public inquiry should be held into their activities.

Mark Evans ● 24d3 Comments ● 24d