Proposed electric car charger on Uxbridge Road will put cyclists in danger

Harrow council s proposing to install an electric car charger on Uxbridge Road, near Hatch End Station. Link to proposal.

This part of Uxbridge Road is proposed to become the ‘Northern’ cycle route. The road is wide enough for safe, protected cycle lanes that meet the LTN 1/20 standard. The existing layout does not meet the standard – the cycle lane is advisory (paint only), with no protection from motor traffic, and cars have to cross the cycle lane to reach parking spaces. People cycling alongside parked cars are sandwiched between parked and moving cars, at risk from both overtaking traffic and opening car doors.

Current layout on Uxbridge Road, where cyclists are sandwiched between the car lane and the parking lane, and cars have to cross the cycle lane to reach parking spaces.

While electric cars have advantages over fossil fuelled cars in terms of local air quality, they are further down the hierarchy of sustainable transport measures than walking, cycling and public transport. Infrastructure for electric cars should not make conditions worse for more sustainable travel options, such as walking and cycling.

Harrow Cyclists commented on the design and the council altered it slightly by increasing the painted buffer between the parked cars and the cycle lane, but these changes do not address the fundamental dangers with the design. Cyclists are at risk from motorists crossing the cycle lane to enter or leave parking spaces, and from car doors being opened. By locating a rapid electric charging point in this location it is likely that usage of these parking bays (and therefore danger to people cycling) will increase.

What does the guidance say?

The summary principles in LTN 1/20 (pages 9-11) include:

1) Cycle infrastructure should be accessible to everyone from 8 to 80 and beyond: it should be planned and designed for everyone. The opportunity to cycle in our towns and cities should be universal.

6) Consideration of the opportunities to improve provision for cycling will be an expectation of any future local highway schemes funded by Government. To receive Government funding for local highways investment where the main element is not cycling or walking, there will be a presumption that schemes must deliver or improve cycling infrastructure to the standards in this Local Transport Note, unless it can be shown that there is little or no need for cycling in the particular highway scheme.

Cycle infrastructure design (LTN 1/20)

Uxbridge Road is earmarked to be part of the ‘Northern’ cycle route in Harrow’s Cycling Strategy, so there is a definite statement of need for cycling along this route.

What level of protection for cyclists is required on Uxbridge Road?

Figure 4.1 on page 33 of LTN 1/20 states the appropriate protection from motor traffic on highways depending on traffic flow. On a road with a 30mph speed limit or more than 4000 cars per day (such as Uxbridge Road), protected space for cycling (i.e. segregated cycle tracks or cycle lanes) is required.

In terms of cycle lane design, the guidance states (page 59):

6.2.40 Providing a cycle track between parked vehicles and the footway provides a much higher level of service in terms of safety and comfort than having a cycle lane on the offside of parking / loading areas; and requires no additional width.

6.2.42 Kerbed island separation or light segregation that provides a buffer zone of at least 0.5m between cyclists and parked vehicles is recommended to minimise risk of collision between cyclists and vehicle doors.

Cycle infrastructure design (LTN 1/20)
Harrow Council’s proposed location of electric charging point in the existing parking lane, leaving cyclists sandwiched between parked and moving cars, and hindering future safety improvements for people cycling.

We suggest that a continuous, protected cycle lane could be accommodated alongside roadside parking spaces and an electric charging place. We suggest that the cycle lane is protected and is located between the footway and parking bays, as per recommended designs in LTN 1/20. This could be achieved by removing the existing footway buildouts and installing light segregation. Alternatively, the charger could be moved to a nearby minor road which does not have or need cycle lanes. This would still enable people to use it to charge electric cars, and would not interfere with the cycle lane.

Suggested design as per LTN 1/20 design standard, with cycle lane protected from motor traffic.

What are the consequences of not correcting the design?

  • People cycling are at risk of collision with motorists crossing their path to access the electric car charger.
  • People cycling are at risk of collision with car doors, and being trapped between car doors and moving traffic.
  • People will not cycle along Uxbridge Road because of the unsafe layout, leading to more car use and associated harms
  • The charger will need to be removed in future to accommodate safe cycling infrastructure, which will be a waste of resources.

Response from Harrow Council

Harrow Council’s response (received on 2 Nov 2021) was as follows:

You will be aware that this is a TfL initiative intended to invest in charging infrastructure that will encourage the use of more sustainable vehicles that do not use fossil fuels and will help to improve air quality. It is one of many initiatives in the Mayor’s transport strategy intended to improve our streets and support sustainable travel.

However, a key theme of the strategy is healthy streets with a focus on schemes considering people and their health. While I can see that the alternative design proposed is intended to improve cycle safety I am unsure of the benefits for pedestrians crossing a cycle lane to access parked vehicles in the road, particularly on vulnerable pedestrians such as those with physical or visual impairment. This will need very careful consideration.

This particular initiative is already significantly delayed and TfL are vigorously chasing progress with delivering the scheme. I will therefore ask the transportation team to review the design risk assessment and healthy streets assessment of the scheme options in light of your comments and to consider the impacts on all road users as well as the LTN 1/20 guidance. They will then provide you with an assessment of their findings and confirm what action we propose to take.