Saturday 30 May 2020

Emergency Cycle Lanes on Uxbridge Road

(30 May 2020) 

Today Ealing Council installed two short sections of segregated cycle lanes on the Uxbridge Road in Acton. The emergency cycle lanes are part of Ealing's plans to meet the travel demand when lockdown is relaxed. Due to social distancing, public transport is unable to operate at its full capacity. TfL estimate it can only carry 15 percent of the usual numbers. To fill the gap, the government and the Mayor of London are encouraging people to cycle. What that means for Ealing is that the Uxbridge Road and Cycleway 34 alongside the A40 will have to carry a lot of the journeys that used to be made on the Central Line, District Line, Heathrow Connect, other western mainline trains, plus the 607 and 207 buses. Even if many people continue working from home, that's quite a challenge. TfL have published a map showing new emergency cycle routes - marked in purple - in relation to the Underground lines. It looks like Cycleway 34 will run all the way to King's Cross along a lane of the A40. The new Uxbridge Road Cycleway is shown starting in Acton near Morrisons, and running as

far as Shepherd's Bush. TfL have identified the whole length of the Uxbridge Road through Ealing as a top priority cycle route, and Ealing Cycling Campaign have asked the council to extend the emergency cycleway along the whole route. While the sections installed today have good width - they are 1.7m wide to the base of the flexible reflective wands - they are very short. The west-bound lane runs for 100m between Bromyard Avenue and Larden Road. The east-bound lane stretches for 140m between Vale Grove and Centre Avenue. A letter from the Department for Transport to local councils makes it clear that the government is looking for big changes: "You will need to show us that you have swift and meaningful plans to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians, including on strategic corridors", it states. "The quickest and cheapest way of achieving this will normally be point closures. These can be of certain main roads (with exceptions for buses, access and disabled people, and with other main roads kept free for through motor traffic): or of parallel side streets, if sufficiently direct to provide alternatives to the main road. 

Local authorities have until 5 June to apply to the Department for Transport for funding for emergency walking and cycling schemes. From the time they receive the money they have 4 weeks to start constructing the schemes, and once they've started construction, they must finish the schemes in 8 weeks.

Why cycling fills the gap
 If everyone who previously travelled on public transport got in their cars, the Uxbridge Road - and many others - would quickly become clogged. In terms of logistics, the authorities had no option, but to turn it into a cycleway. It will be the only way to get everyone to work.  A typical 3.5 metre wide lane can carry four times as many people on bicycles as in motor vehicles.
Priority Routes in Ealing
Although the Uxbridge Road is TfL's top priority cycle route in the borough, four other routes are marked as high priority: Whitton Ave in Sudbury Hill, South Rd to Merrick Road in Southall, Boston Road in Hanwell, and Gunnersbury Avenue to Gunnersbury Lane in Acton. We don't yet know what measures are planned for these roads.