Hammersmith Bridge Closure - June update

Influencing the future of Hammersmith Bridge

It has recently been confirmed by TfL that Hammersmith Bridge will be closed to traffic for up to three years. The BCA is working with the Council, TfL and our local MP to influence plans for the future of the bridge and the impact of its closure. We hope to have a clearer understanding of what will happen to the bridge in the next few months and will keep you posted via this website, our email newsletter Prospect Plus and Prospect magazine.

We know the closure of the bridge is having a major impact on Barnes residents who rely on services to Hammersmith. We are particularly concerned about elderly and disabled residents who currently struggle to get over the bridge. The impact of the closure is also being felt by local businesses, some of which are seeing a drop in sales.

What we are doing

Whilst the decisions about the future of the bridge are completely out of our hands, the BCA is at the heart of the debate. We are working closely with our MP and the Council to ensure that the views of our members are represented in all discussions. We are looking at both practical and creative solutions to get people over the bridge and deal with the congestion caused by the diverted traffic. This issue is top of the agenda at every Environment Group and Trustee meeting and, as a result, we are focusing our attention on a number of issues:

E pedal taxi.jpg

·         Campaigning for TfL to revisit their recent changes to the local bus network, bringing back the 209 to Hammersmith Bridge, extending the 22 into Barnes from its terminus at Putney Common and making the 533 route to Hammersmith via Chiswick Bridge more frequent than every 30 minutes. 

·         We have partnered with Ginger, a local company focusing on clean transport, and the Wetland Centre to offer transportation to Hammersmith for more vulnerable residents and a rush hour shuttle service between Castelnau and Hammersmith tube station for commuters. We are now in the process of recruiting riders and setting up the booking system and are hoping to start a trial service of our e-pedal taxi over the summer.

·         We have been campaigning for the installation of temporary Santander docking stations along Castelnau in order to help commuters complete their journey to Hammersmith tube station. TfL has confirmed that they are looking into this and we are hoping to see some movement on this soon.

·         We have asked Richmond Council to accelerate their plans to reintroduce a dockless bicycle provider. Since the bridge closure, there has been a major increase in the usage of Lime and mobike bicycles in Barnes, although we are outside the companies’ operating areas. Richmond Council is gathering feedback from residents about their experience and usage of dockless bicycles and we are expecting an announcement on service availability in the coming months.

·         We have asked TfL and the Council to look at the phasing of traffic lights at all major junctions. TfL has confirmed they will conduct a review of traffic lights in the wider area.

·         TfL has already responded to our demand to provide a bus service from the bridge to Hammersmith tube station. Residents who can cross the bridge by foot can now board the 72 bus from the junction of Hammersmith Bridge Road and Rutland Grove which is the closest point to the bridge that buses can reach.

We are encouraging residents to contact TfL to share their views on the bridge and on local bus services: yoursay@tfl.gov.uk. TfL may act quicker and are more likely to do what we want them to do if they receive an overwhelming response from Barnes residents.

The impact on local businesses

One of the major impacts of the closure of Hammersmith Bridge is that some of our local businesses are seeing a reduction in trade. We are doing what we can to support these businesses and are planning a shop local campaign and a campaign to promote Barnes to visitors who may want to come and explore our even more uniquely quiet corner of London. Please make an extra special effort to use our local shops. You will be amazed at what you can buy locally! It will make all the difference to the future of the shopping areas that make Barnes so special.

Air pollution

Since the bridge closure, we have all witnessed increased in congestion on the roads leading from Barnes to Mortlake and Putney. This congestion is a particular problem for residents in the White Hart Lane area. While we have all assumed that the long traffic jams will have led to worse air quality in the area, we are reassured to receive data from LondonAir which monitors air pollution across London, showing no increase in pollution levels since Hammersmith Bridge closed. See graphs showing data from monitors in Putney and Chiswick.

Air pollution graph.jpg

The future of the bridge from the residents’ perspective

When it comes to the future of Hammersmith Bridge, people have different ideas of what should happen once the repair is completed. It was interesting to hear residents sharing their ideas in discussions on the street and in online fora such as NextDoor. Suggestions have been made to demolish the bridge and build a new one, to dig a tunnel from Roehampton to Acton with access roads in Castelnau and Hammersmith, to renew the ferry service, to build a temporary Bailey bridge or make the bridge a toll bridge. Every idea has provoked lots of discussion. So we have asked two local residents to share their view on what should happened to the bridge once the work is done:

Local resident, Amir G is in favour of the rapid re-opening of the artery that is Hammersmith Bridge:

“Two months on from the sudden closure of Hammersmith Bridge the full effect has sadly been realised by Residents in Barnes, East Sheen and Mortlake. It is absolutely imperative that when Hammersmith Bridge is finally repaired it must be reinstated fully to permit vehicular traffic. It would be a great injustice if our collective voice, declared at a public meeting held on the 6th June 2019 at St Mary’s Church, Barnes was not heard. The attending audience voted almost unanimously in favour of ensuring vehicular traffic - both private and public - be permitted to cross Hammersmith Bridge.

Since its closure the intolerable traffic congestion has not only detrimentally impacted residents ability to go about their daily commutes in a timely and efficient manner, it has resulted in quite awful increased pollution on roads leading to both Putney and Chiswick Bridges. For those requiring either public or private transport owing to age, disability, or a multitude of other personal reasons a journey from Castelnau in Barnes to Hammersmith tube station, which would have taken approximately 15 minutes, is now at times exceeding 70 minutes. 

We as a community cannot have a major arterial route into central London cut off from use. In addition it is quite clear that the unforeseen closure of this necessary and vital commuter link has negatively impacted business owners in SW13 and for the sake of our community I hope and trust that both Transport for London and Hammersmith & Fulham Council will ensure that, if they opt for repair and not replacement, the result will be full reinstatement of our beloved bridge to its former and full glory.”

JLA, Consultant Surgeon is in favour of allowing buses, bicycles and pedestrians on the bridge once it is repaired:

“As a resident of Upper Barnes since 2005, the recent closure of Hammersmith Bridge has brought about a dramatic change to the local environment. The striking reduction in noise, traffic and the smog of vehicle fumes has sparked a question in the locality regarding whether the status quo of traffic should be restored, along with the eventual repair of the Bridge. As a doctor, I believe there are some extremely pressing reasons why this should not be the case.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that worldwide annually, 4 million people die prematurely as a result of air pollution. In London, this is reflected by an estimated 23,500 premature deaths per year, equivalent to around 59 jumbo jets full of people, crashing every year. Motor vehicles are the major culprit, with emissions producing a dangerous mix of tiny particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and low-level ozone. These are recognized as leading to increased rates of lung, bladder, and urinary tract cancers, chronic lung disease, heart attacks and strokes. Children are particularly vulnerable, as these pollutants can lead to a reduction in lung development and function, increased rates of asthma, and a reduction in ability to concentrate.

This year, a London Coroners Court recognised that the death of a 9-year-old girl from asthma was directly due to traffic pollution. Elli Kissi-Debrah was admitted to hospital 27 times for acute worsening of her asthma, prior to her death. The coroner concluded this due to the close correlation between her episodes of hospital attendance and recorded spikes in pollution near her home, close to the South Circular.

Tragically, the most vulnerable people in society, children, the elderly, the sick and the poor, who are suffer the most from chronic ill health and premature death, are the people least likely to be causing air pollution. The vast majority of car drivers within London are relatively wealthy individuals travelling alone in their vehicle, to their place of work.

The WHO recommends that cycling and walking should be widely encouraged, and since the closure, we’ve started to witness residents choosing active travel and public transport instead of driving. The longer the bridge stays closed, the greater the number of people will stick with their new choices. It’s an opportunity to make a significant change we should not miss. Surely, with the scientific facts related to car pollution being so clear, a point in time had been reached where a new balance must be struck between the rights of convenience for drivers against the rights of the majority of the population to enjoy a healthier and longer life, and to breathe freely?”

BCA Admin