Streetspace FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the Streetspace programme?
The coronavirus pandemic has radically altered how we use our transport network. Local trips, often made on foot or by bike, have noticeably increased. Public transport use has fallen dramatically due to concerns about virus transmission and increased take up of remote working. Trips to and from the airport, which have a big impact on the borough, have reduced in line with a radical drop in aviation activity. The Hounslow Streetspace programme seeks to take action as quickly as possible to:
- Enable safe social distancing, including on public transport
- Support increased walking and cycling
- Avoid congestion levels across the borough if previous public transport trips are instead made by car.
The Streetspace programme is necessary to facilitate social distancing in the interests of public safety, whilst also helping to avoid an increase in the number of journeys made by car. The programme also seeks to capture the positive impacts which have resulted from the transport network changes, such as improvements in air quality and reduced transport related carbon emissions.
Why is the Streetspace programme necessary?
The measures we are taking are an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. They are intended to help our neighbourhoods cope with the effects of the virus by facilitating social distancing in the interests of public safety.
With social distancing requirements still in place, including on public transport, there is a significant risk that congestion levels across the borough would rise if trips previously made by buses or trains were instead made by car. The second key reason is that ‘active travel’ such as walking and cycling provide significant health and well-being benefits. An increase in trips made by car would also worsen the quality of our air and increase road casualties.
Does anyone support these trial measures?
The fundamental principle of Streetspace schemes aims to enable the public to follow Government guidance, including social distancing. The measures by which we deliver these changes, through widened footways, new cycle infrastructure and reduced traffic in certain residential or school areas are a key part of our local transport strategy.
We undertook a borough wide consultation undertaken in May/June 2020, this was accessed by over 800 individuals and received over 4000 contributions. The outcome of the consultation showed 60% of respondents supported steps to introduce emergency changes and over 50% would support the measures becoming permanent over time.
What Consultation has been undertaken?
Programme Phase 1 and 2:
Phase 1 and Phase 2 measures were developed following a borough wide consultation undertaken in May/June 2020. This was accessed by over 800 individuals and received over 4000 contributions. The DfT guidance instructed local authorities to make changes as ‘swiftly as possible’ and recommended that they are brought in using experimental traffic orders which see the trial measures implemented in tandem with consultation.
Programme Phase 3:
Phase 3 of the programme has not started but will be developed following the schemes will be based on data collection for three key areas:
i.a review of all education sites to asses suitability for the ‘school street’ approach
ii.a process of defining all our residential neighbourhoods with a unique identifier and a review of through traffic levels in each
iii.A high-level feasibility assessment into opportunities for rapid improvement of our defined priority cycle network.
It is proposed that measures identified through the three workstreams set out above will form Phase 3 of the Hounslow Streetspace programme, and be taken forward as part of our next three-year Transport Strategy (LIP) Delivery Plan. This will be developed later in 2020/21 for presentation to Cabinet in 21/22 and this will be consulted upon.
Emergency Services Consultation
Under the relevant guidance for making Experimental Traffic Orders, the council is required to consult with emergency services colleagues. In all cases, the proposed trial measures have been circulated to emergency services (ES) colleagues and their feedback taken into account. It is the case that emergency services prefer arrangements where their vehicles can progress unimpeded, i.e. they tend to support camera enforced restrictions and raise concerns about hard barriers. The council has taken that feedback into account and ensured that we provide a mix of approaches to reduce the impact on ES operations.
Why has there not been any consultation on the individual trial schemes?
The Government has requested that Highway Authorities across the country quickly introduce measures to help people socially distance, enabling them to walk and cycle more often, helping our neighbourhoods recover from the effects of the coronavirus. The Streetspace programme is an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic; whilst we undertook an initial engagement exercise to gather general feedback on where changes to the network may be necessary as a consequence of the pandemic, unfortunately there just wasn’t the time or scope to conduct a full in-depth public consultation on each of the trial measures we are introducing.
We know that this isn’t what you’ve come to expect from us. However, we are listening closely to any concerns local people or other stakeholders have; if a person raises an issue and we think that we need to take action to address it, we will do so. We have opened a consultation to gather views on all our Streetspace measures and trials. If you have any feedback on a measure / trial that has already been introduced, we would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to share it with us by clicking here.
How have the council addressed the public sector equality duty?
The Council has undertaken Equality Impact Assessments (“EIA”) as part of the Streetspace Programme. This analysis has helped inform the design approach for schemes, wherever possible looking to reduce any impact on those with protected characteristics. EIA is an ongoing process, taking into account feedback and consultation responses as the situation unfolds.
How will the trial measures implemented be assessed?
The Council has committed to undertake an independent interim and final review of all trial measures implemented as part of the Streetspace Programme.
The following evidence will be taken into consideration when reviewing each individual trial:
- General compliance with national, regional and local transport and environmental policy.
- Feedback received on the scheme from residents and other road users, including those with protected characteristics under the Equalities Act.
- Feedback received from businesses, including an analysis of relevant transaction data, where available, to understand the potential impact of the measures on trade. Dedicated engagement may also be considered where appropriate for impacted premises.
- Recorded changes in traffic flow, journey times and/or speed on the network in the vicinity of schemes taken from GPS data, bus journey data and traffic counts.
- Any recorded evidence of change in numbers of people walking and cycling.
- A review of any relevant road safety implications, including collision data, where available.
- Relevant wider environmental changes, including potential air quality implications.
The report will then be made available to officers to review and provide comment on, and also further circulated to ward councillors for their input.
The final report incorporating all comments and the empirical data, and relevant Equality Impact Assessments and Environmental assessments, will in turn be presented to the council’s Lead Member/Chief Officer to inform decisions on the determination of the individual trails.
When will the scheme reviews be carried out?
As a result of Covid restrictions reintroduced on 4 January 2021 we have decided to delay the next round of Interim, and the Final Reviews, of our Streetspace schemes. This will allow us to complete the traffic data collection required to analyse the effects of the individual trial measures. The government has detailed a phased roadmap out of lockdown, and it is the council’s intention to commission the next stage of data collection once Step 3 has been achieved, the indicative date for which is 17 May 2021. Providing the government’s roadmap progresses on schedule, our revised programme for completion and publication of the Interim Reviews will be the end of July.
The initial Phase 1 & 2 Interim Reviews already undertaken will be published before the end of May. We will also publish, as part of these initial reviews, the independent traffic and air quality data analysis received to date, as well as a summary of feedback received through our consultation survey for the initial phase of schemes.
Will you consider changes to these trials once they have been implemented?
Where changes are identified as being required to improve the effectiveness of the scheme, or to mitigate unintended impacts, then yes changes will be considered. Given the pace of the programme to implement these trials as quickly as possible it is acknowledged that some schemes may require adaptation once they are in place. Feedback from local people and other stakeholders through the consultation portal and our ongoing monitoring help us to understand where changes might be needed, and what changes should be considered.
Why are you introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhood trials as part of the Streetspace Programme?
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are created in order to reduce through traffic or ‘rat-running’ on local streets to make them safer for people to walk and cycle. Where LTNs have already been introduced in London, evidence shows people adjust their routes, the times they travel and the way they travel. Therefore local increases in congestion are unlikely to be permanent. Traffic levels and patterns are also changing for other reasons, often in response to new advice as part of our response to the pandemic, and will not necessarily be as a result of LTNs. However as with all changes we make to the transport network, it takes time for people to adjust to new road layouts.
We cannot know the true traffic impacts until these trials have been in place for a while, which is why we are paying close attention to changes in traffic levels and bus journey times in and around the trial schemes, and comparing them with changes in areas where LTNs have not been introduced.
Responses to questions at the Chiswick Area Forum
Click here for a list of responses to questions raised about Streetspace at the Chiswick Area Forum in November 2020.