TfL's financial difficulties meant it might no longer contribute to cost
The A4 near the centre of Hammersmith. Picture: Google Streetview
Hammersmith and Fulham Council has vowed to stump up money for a new cycle lane along the A4, after TfL’s financial problems made it unlikely to be able to pay.
From 2019, TfL and Hammersmith & Fulham Council had been consulting on the idea of having two new cycle lanes, along the A4 and a route through King Street.
The King Street route will still be delivered by TfL and will become part of its Cycleway 9 scheme from Brentford to Kensington.
Residents and cyclists had argued that the A4 would be a better route, as cyclists already use its wide pavement, and because it would be less disruptive to traffic.
In August 2019, the council announced it had negotiated with TfL to pursue both options, and that a cycling commission of local residents would be consulted on the fine details.
But on 22 February, commission members were told by council officials that TfL had effectively walked away.
One commission member, Nigel Walley from Stamford Brook, left the meeting believing the A4 scheme had been scrapped altogether, leaving only the controversial King Street option.
However, a message to commission members from councillor Iain Cassidy explains that the council will take over the A4 scheme.
Cllr Cassidy wrote, “I fully appreciate that it is a core part of the whole scheme and the council remains committed to implementing a cycle route along the A4.”
Cllr Cassidy added, “Given TfL’s financial situation we are going to have to be creative as a council to get this scheme built.”
Meanwhile, a statement from TfL appeared to contradict the council’s suggestion that it had backed out of the scheme, and instead explained it could pay depending on its next round of Government funding.
Helen Cansick, TfL’s head of healthy streets delivery, said, “We have had to pause the work we were funding for Hammersmith and Fulham Council to explore a possible route along the A4 due to the financial pressures we face as a result of the pandemic. We will look to restart this again subject to securing a good funding settlement from the Government.”
Mr Walley, 57, said suspicions about the A4 route being dropped were raised by the apparent lack of planning that had been completed by the council or TfL.
“It was already tense because, after a year of meetings, no one had produced any designs for anything, and it was meant to be a four-month project starting last May,” he said.
It remains unclear how much the A4 scheme will cost and where along the road the cycle route will begin and end.
TfL’s finances were an issue before the pandemic hit, but the last 12 months saw its fare revenue drop by more than 90 per cent.
It received Government bailouts of £1.6 billion in May and £1.8 billion in November. TfL chiefs are thrashing out the terms of its next deal, due to be announced by April, the new financial year.
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
March 2, 2021