OPINION: Plans for new Twickenham cycle route don't go far enough

By The Editor

13th Aug 2021 | Opinion

by Jack Fifield

As someone who cycles both for leisure and transport in the Richmond borough, I welcome the council's plans for a new protected cycleway along Strawberry Vale.

Growing up in Twickenham but going to secondary school in Ham, I took the bus for an hour each way every day when cycling would have taken a third of the time.

Yet with the perceived threat of serious injuries or even death, my parents were not happy with me even trying to cycle there.

Since growing older, I now have the confidence to ride on my own - but I know that many people don't.

According to a 2017 Government survey , 62% of adults in England agree that "it is too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads".

Combined with the fact that 40% of urban car journeys are under two miles, this perceived lack of safety leads to a lot of journeys where people feel they have to drive or be driven, even if they don't want to.

This is why The Strawberry Vale cycle route will be momentous.

Finally, there will be a way for those of all cycling abilities to travel between Strawberry Hill and Teddington Lock safely, giving people of all ages the freedom to independently explore their own area on one of the healthiest and greenest modes of transport invented.

However, some of the compromises made in the current plans fall short of what we should be aiming for in 2021.

Moving parking spaces onto the pavement, where drivers will have to cross both the cycle lane and the footway, is just not on. Pedestrian space should not be sacrificed.

While some parking has been removed, we really must ask why so much needs to be retained on a street where so many households have large driveways with enough room to store multiple cars.

The planned width of the two lanes – a minimum of 1.5 metres – is too narrow to comfortably overtake other cyclists without going into the main carriageway.

One 3-metre-wide two-way cycle track would double the route's width without sacrificing any more road space than in the current plans, allowing for a less cramped ride.

If placed on the east side of the road, a two-way track would allow cyclists to avoid most side streets too – making it safer and more convenient for all road users.

In addition, extending the cycleway into Twickenham town centre is a must as current plans have the cycleway bookended by the Teddington Lock intersection and the Radnor Gardens mini roundabout.

Extending to Twickenham town centre would allow for more people to choose a greener, healthier mode of transport.

And more schools, homes, and businesses could be linked by extending the cycleway to Kingston Bridge at a lower cost through implementing a Low Traffic Neighbourhood - where streets are closed to through-motor traffic, but access to all properties is retained - on Broom Road/Lower Teddington Road.

This would prevent dangerous rat running and encourage drivers to use the adjacent A305.

We must go further if we are to tackle the climate emergency, the air pollution crisis, and the inactivity pandemic threatening our health and our future.

Click HERE to fill in the Council consultation on the plans.

Related stories

- Cyclists applaud "ambitious" proposals for cycle improvements in Twickenham as council encourages residents to have their say

- Residents express concerns over "expensive and controversial" cycle improvement plans in Twickenham


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