Living close to the Lower Richmond Road in Thamesfield Ward and its approach to Putney Bridge, it has become increasingly evident that since Hammersmith Bridge was closed, to both vehicles and more recently pedestrians and bicycles, that there has been a substantial increase in the volume of traffic.
Given the capacity constraints of local roads, the lack of an alternative routes to cross the Thames and, the partial closure of Wandsworth Bridge, the increase in traffic on the roads leading to the Putney Bridge has led to localised gridlock, extended journey times and an inevitable increase in pollution. The prospect of this continuing for another six and a half years is deeply depressing.
Whilst, Putney residents are seriously inconvenienced, spare a thought for the residents of Barnes whom used to be able to move freely across Hammersmith Bridge, on their way to School or appointments and now face a long circuitous route to their destinations North of the River.
To find out exactly what is going on, the Putney Liberal Democrats have looked further into the data. Has this situation however, led to a change in people's behaviours? Are there more people taking to their bicycles or using public transport ? Or are they taking to cars to avoid enclosed public occupied spaces and therefore exacerbating the congestion and leading to greater journey times for all and increased pollution for the areas they pass through?
Local campaigner, Paul Benton submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Transport for London to find out the answers. He tells us that “Unfortunately the nearest automated traffic counter is located on the Upper Richmond Road and the data produced is not geographically relevant to reveal the volume of traffic queuing to cross Putney Bridge.” However, we can see that for the Upper Richmond Road, the results of a comparison of a week before and a week after the Bridge was closed to vehicles only shows a clear increase in journey times.
The FOI revealed that a journey from A3 Kingston Road to Putney High Street increased by an average 33% for the five days of 21-25/9/20, using a baseline comparison prior to the bridge closing. Whilst, using the same time frame and comparison, a journey from Shepherds Bush to Putney Bridge on average increased by 26%. The Putney Liberal Democrats are calling for greater monitoring of the traffic and air quality of the roads that lead to Putney Bridge including Putney High Street which a known ‘hotspot’ of pollution in the capital. Paul Benton has made a request to the Highways Department of Wandsworth Council to request traffic flow monitoring be installed to measure the flow across Putney Bridge. We are awaiting a response.
Paul Benton commented that “While it is important to ensure that Hammersmith Bridge is restored to be able to carry pedestrian, bicycles and vehicles in the shortest possible time frame, Wandsworth Council needs to remain vigilant and monitor the impact that this closure is having on local residents in Putney not just on journey times, but also the health impacts of an increase of pollution in the area.”