More from our car-loving Thatcherite throwbacks at Hammersmith and Fulham – according to the local HammersmithToday website they’ve somehow managed to persuade TfL to stump up £2.5m to widen a road at the Hammersmith gyratory system, in order to speed up cars, along with a bit of traffic light rephasing thrown in and for some reason moving an existing bus gate.

There are number of humourous angles to this

  • the proposed route (used as a low-speed service road to the Odeon) currently has about ten or fifteen bike stands on it.
  • as we’ve seen, Hammersmith and Fulham have removed both their air quality monitoring stations this year
  • LBHF are apparently the last people in the city who still think that widening roads reduces congestion – the rest of us caught on in about 1973

The council’s justifications are also a laugh:

  • ‘avoiding the need for cars to slow to complete a 90 degree turn’ [they speed straight onto the roundabout instead]
  • ‘[LBHF] Council wants to build [the road] in order to ease traffic jams caused by the Western extension of the congestion charging zone’ – [that’s the WEZ they complained bitterly about and persuaded Boris to scrap, so what’s the point?]
  • ‘also avoiding buses exiting the bus station’ – [they’re joining a road with the buses already on it, though]
  • ‘The council also claims that the 25 buses per hour running along Fulham Palace Road will benefit from faster journey times due to the slip road’ – [they’d benefit for active priority measures and weaning people off cars, too, but that’s a bit complicated for LBHF, apparently]

More seriously, this goes to show the main pitfall of allowing the boroughs too much sway – one rogue borough in the wrong place fouls things up across a much wider area than their voters come from.  In this case allowing more, faster traffic onto the gyratory is going to have a negative impact on the attractiveness of the area, particularly to cyclists, which takes on a certain urgency since it’s part of one of Boris’s Cycle Superhighways (Route 9).  Not going to be particularly super if it relies on the goodwill of a council which is spending millions greasing the way for the Clarkson Tendency.  Then there’s the effect on traffic in neighboroughing areas (one of which I live in), the loss of £2.5m that TfL could spend on something useful, the air quality matter, the increased danger to pedestrians and cyclists, the complete antithesis of the ‘green, clean’ city Boris and Kulveer bang on about etc. etc.  Basically it shows again that Boris can’t promise things and then give away the powers and resources he needs to achieve them.  That way madness lies.  Do we really think that if the WEZ is scrapped that they’ll say ‘OK, we’ll manage with less roadspace now, chaps’?  Naaaah.

One intriguing reading of this is that Boris is allowing them to do it as a sop for welching on the deal and retaining the WEZ, but surely not?

I’ve drawn a map of what I think is proposed.

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