The Richmond Society sought feedback around several current infrastructure concerns using a survey on the Society’s web site. The survey ran for three weeks from June 1 to June 21 and consisted of 10 questions with respondents having a free text response. Its initial promotion was via a Chairman’s email to members followed by periodic mentions using our social media channels.
In total 89 responses were received of which 49 were from members (55%) and 40 from non-members (45%). Some of those non-members joined the Society immediately after completing the survey.
Responses were anonymised before evaluating how the answers addressed the specific theme(s) pre-determined as underlying each question. This evaluation was confirmed using a panel of three Trustees members and two sub-committee members. The anonymisation of responses coupled with a panel review helped to reduce personal preferences being applied to the interpretation of responses.
The aim of the survey was to seek broad reactions and, because the methods and small sample size do not offer statistical assurance, the analysis is presented only with a commentary. The detailed results will however be used to guide the Society’s Executive Committee when forming policy and responding to council consultations.
Please comment as a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian about the effectiveness of the social distancing measures currently in place and any problems you have encountered with them.
To establish whether respondents felt the council’s temporary COVID-19 measures had been effective.
There was the entire spectrum of responses ranging from “fantastic” to “not working” but, on balance, the views were positive with more than half of members who answered the question supporting the measures. Negative comments tended to suggest that people’s individual experiences might be affected by how seriously other people that they encountered were (or were not) applying the social distancing guidelines.
Several people commented that the one-way arrangement on Richmond Bridge was often not followed and a few cyclists observed that the barriers on George Street had forced them into the traffic stream in a dangerous way.
To what extent would you support pavement widening/road narrowing on George Street once social distancing is no longer expected? How might your views change if traffic volumes are not sufficiently reduced and the measures led to more congestion in the town, or displacement to Richmond Green and/or residential areas around Richmond Hill? Do you have suggestions for managing this?
To gauge the level of interest in wider pavements and less traffic through the town.
If wider pavements carried no repercussions for traffic, we would expect most people to prefer more space to walk. If a respondent qualified their support with concerns about the impact for traffic displacement and/or increased congestion, they were recorded as preferring to retain the pre-COVID-19 situation.
After applying this criterion, the majority view was opposed to pavement widening due to the concerns about the traffic repercussions. A few people felt that creating a more difficult passage for vehicles through the town might reduce traffic volumes and bring improved air quality while others noted that a single traffic lane could cause traffic hold ups behind buses at their stops.
The council is evaluating different methods for reducing the overall traffic volume passing through George Street. This will seek to encourage vehicles to bypass the town on alternative routes with cameras used to enforce restrictions on certain types of town centre traffic. Those restrictions are not published but may initially be based on levels of exhaust emissions.
As a stakeholder member of the council’s Town Centre Advisory Group (“TCAG”) the Richmond Society has not opposed traffic reduction measures for the town provided traffic is not simply displaced somewhere else and provided business servicing requirements are accommodated. If the planned measures to reduce traffic prove successful and traffic volumes fall significantly, then some people who gave their qualified support for wider pavements are likely to become outright supporters.
Should controls be introduced that would require vehicles to give way to pedestrians wherever they choose to cross George Street? If not, do you think additional crossing points are needed and where should they be located?
To assess the extent of concern about the perceived ease of crossing and whether this was considered enough of a problem to endorse any pedestrianisation initiatives.
Over half of respondents did not indicate problems crossing between shops on each side of the road wherever they wished. Partly this is because there are sufficient gaps created in the traffic flow due to it being “pulsed” down George Street thanks to the formal crossing outside House of Fraser. There were several comments opposing anything that would require more street clutter and a number along the lines of “leave it alone”.
A couple of people specifically highlighted the dangers crossing Eton Street at The Square. The Society has long flagged this location as a high priority for attention and more recently has supported ideas from the council’s consultants for a road treatment and new layout that would indicate this is shared space where vehicles have a lower priority relative to pedestrians.
Do you have suggestions for relieving pavement overcrowding (most especially around the bus stops near Waterloo Place and outside RBS)?
Free form answer to see what suggestions materialise. Common themes were grouped together.
Nearly 40% of respondents either did not answer this question, or offered no suggestions. Of those who did give a view, most members suggested moving the bus stops while most non-members suggested wider pavements.
Neither solution is straightforward because TfL sets minimum and maximum distances between bus stops which limits the flexibility for moving them and widening the pavement is awkward where the road width is constrained. However, a few suggestions about moving the Waterloo Place stop to Eton Street might be achievable and remain within the distance limitations if this can be safely included into a redesign of The Square.
Perhaps the most practical suggestion as suggested by three members would be to mark up the pavement with hatching and/or a suitable message e.g. “don’t wait here” or “keep clear”. Coupled with the removal of street clutter and some A’ boards this could provide an easy win.
Do you think the right amount of space has been allocated for waiting taxis? If not, should there be more or less space? Are additional taxi ranks needed anywhere else in the town?
To assess the strength of feeling behind frequent complaints about the space given over to taxi ranks.
Many people did not answer this question or did not have a view but, of those who gave a view, a small majority was unhappy with the current arrangements and there was no support for increasing the space given over to taxis. Some people commented that formal taxi ranks seem anachronistic in the days of Uber.
Does the balance between pedestrians and cyclists on the towpath feel about right? If not how and where should priorities be changed?
To ascertain the imperative for change given comments about cyclists increased use of the towpath.
Virtually all respondents answered this question which clearly struck a chord. People tended to show a preference for either the cycling or walking viewpoint with many comments related to behaviours which were often forthrightly expressed.
A strong majority of those who gave a view indicated concerns with the balance of interests between pedestrians and cyclists using the towpath. Complaints were levelled by both cyclists and pedestrians with evident frustration at the current situation expressed by both groups.
Several respondents commented that co-existence on the towpath worked acceptably when cyclists adopted an appropriately low speed in the presence of walkers and there was mutual respect and courtesy. A few people pointed out that the situation was more difficult during lockdown due to cyclists being barred from Richmond Park. Exercising cyclists were therefore having to compete for space with recreational and family cycling groups and with more walkers too.
The tow path is narrow in many places and a few cyclists commented on the danger arising from dogs, while pedestrians referred to being “bullied” and “frightened” by aggressive and rude cyclists (and the risk of injury to their dogs). There were some calls for dedicated cycle lanes and several suggestions that pedestrians should be asked to keep to one side or the other of the path. This latter idea might help to reduce conflict if walkers predictably moved over to the same side of the path until a cyclist has passed and it could allow cyclists to take a safe position earlier instead of trying to negotiate a route through pedestrian groups.
While there were many requests for emphasising pedestrian priority over cyclists, someone did point out that actions tended to be directed AGAINST cyclists and rarely do they seek to remind pedestrians of the need to exercise caution in shared spaces.
After this survey had closed, a petition was started on July 1 asking the council to erect “cyclists go slow shared path” blue signs along the Richmond to Teddington Towpath. The Richmond Society is not in favour of adding signage to the towpath itself, but signage at the entry points to the towpath might be acceptable. The ownership of the towpath is unclear in several stretches and, while it has the status of a public footpath throughout its length, cycling on a footpath without the owner’s consent is not permitted. The council has in the past therefore not wanted to erect signage that could appear to condone cycling where it does not have authority and potentially also give it a liability for maintenance and safety.
A secure cycle parking hub is due to be installed in the car park at Richmond Station with significant benefits for cyclists who also commute by train. Given that George Street is one way, are the cycle routes to and from the station adequate? Would you support cycling contraflows – for example on King Street, Duke Street, Richmond Green, or Clarence Street, to enhance connectivity of the town’s cycle network? What measures would you expect to enable these contraflows to operate safely?
(a) To understand how people perceive the current provision of cycle routes (with a particular interest in the issues for cyclists wanting to travel west from the station).
(b) To collect views about cyclist contraflows given that the council is considering installing these to facilitate connections with Richmond Green and a possible contraflow through The Green. Enabling connections to Richmond Green avoids the need for cyclists to follow the one-way system up Eton Street and it might mitigate against cyclists adopting the George Street pavements as the alternative.
Nearly half of respondents did not answer the first part of the question about the adequacy of cycle routes to and from the station. Those who did respond supported better provision.
The second part of the question to collect views in response to the council’s emerging ideas for cyclist contraflows elicited more responses than the first part. Among all those who gave an opinion most were opposed to contraflows. A concern commonly expressed related to the inherent danger for both cyclists and pedestrians particularly when narrow road widths reduce the margin for accomodating human error.
Do you think the provision of segregated cycle lanes around the town is too little, too much or about right? Would you be willing to see on-street vehicle parking reduced to release road space?
(a) Segregated cycle facilities in the town are extremely limited and this question seeks to capture perceptions around the standard of provision.
(b) Given that most roads around Richmond are relatively narrow the second part of the question seeks to understand whether respondents are prepared to trade off the provision of segregated cycle facilities with the loss of roadside parking.
The views for and against having more segregated cycle facilities were mixed, with members who gave a view opposed.
People largely did not respond to second part of the question but, of those who did, the loss of parking to install segregated cycling facilities was accepted. Members who tend to visit the town on foot might be less concerned about the loss of some parking.
The Council has suggested locating lockable on-street bicycle parking units on the highway at four places around the town. Up to six spaces inside the locker could be rented by cyclists who do not have secure parking at home. The locker itself will use less than one car parking bay. What are your views about the concept and its design?
(a) To ascertain support for the principle of having on-street secure parking for bicycles.
(b) The council’s proposals for Bikehangars around Richmond would locate them all in conservation areas and a planning consent would therefore be expected. Residents’ views about the design are therefore of interest.
There was support for the Bikehangar as a concept, but with concerns regularly expressed about the risks of the Bikehangar attracting theft, vandalism and graffiti and some suggestions that car parks would offer a better and more secure location.
Members mainly avoided the second part of the question relating to the Bikehangar’s design but those who did give a view were deeply opposed to its utilitarian appearance. Several specifically commented that it would be an incongruous addition to the street scene around Richmond Green.
Would you support the provision of an electric shuttle bus operating a circular route linking the station with Richmond Park via Richmond Hill? This could help residents with shopping locally and also assist visitors to Richmond Park. To what extent do you think it might ease traffic or parking congestion in Richmond? How should it be funded in the long term?
This question simply seeks to understand the level of support for an idea that has been mooted before but is not currently in active consideration. Facilitating a link into Richmond Park has gained added relevancy now that the Royal Park’s has announced plans for reducing traffic.
An electric shuttle bus was the most strongly endorsed idea in the whole survey with more than three quarters of respondents who gave an opinion supporting it. Opposition mainly arose from concerns about the extent of demand, particularly where the route might overlap with bus route 371.
Suggestions for funding a shuttle ranged from the council using parking income to provide a subsidy to a user pay as you go system.
After the survey had closed a Twickenham resident has promoted the idea to the Twittersphere where it also received positive feedback.
The council’s recent action to remove parking on Kew Road prompted some suggestions for extending the route to enable a link for visitors between Richmond Station and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Bus route 65 does of course cover this route with reasonable frequency.