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Anti-cycleway West London councillors drove to Clean Air Day leafleting stunt

Councillors who opposed cycle route along Chiswick High Road get pulled up on Twitter

Two Conservative councillors who have been vociferous opponents of a planned cycleway through Chiswick in West London have been accused of hypocrisy after it emerged that they had both driven their cars to a publicity stunt they were holding to coincide with last week’s Clean Air Day.

Patrick Barr and Joanna Biddulph are two of nine Tory councillors sitting on Hounslow Council, with all the Conservative seats located in three wards in the east of the borough – Turnham Green, Chiswick Riverside and Chiswick Homefields. The other 51 seats on the council are held by Labour.

Both the councillors, and their Conservative colleagues on the council, opposed the Chiswick High Road section of the proposed Cycleway 9 from Brentford to Kensington Olympia when it was open for consultation last year, claiming it would increase congestion and air pollution and endanger pedestrians, as well as destroying the village atmosphere.

The pair joined fellow Conservative councillors on Thursday’s Clean Air Day to give leaflets to idling drivers asking them to switch off their engines.

According to the local news website chiswickw4.com, leaflets were distributed at various locations in the east of the borough, including on the planned route of Cycleway 9.

So when it emerged that both had driven there, they were quickly pulled up about it on social media.

Councillor Barr revealed that he had been driving last Thursday when he posted a tweet – subsequently deleted – that the driver of a 237 bus had driven into the back of his car, with road.cc reader Michael Robinson, who alerted us to the story, observing that he had “shot himself in the foot.”

Patrick Barr tweets screengrab (via Twitter)

In another tweet, the councillor said that his agenda that day meant he had no option other than to use a car to get around.

Councillor Biddulph likewise sought to justify her use of a car on Thursday in a series of tweets, saying her choice of mode of transport was based on “thoughtful decisions” – leading Hounslow Cycling to [point out she could have got around very easily by bike .

Local resident Ruth Mayorcas, who is on the organising group of Stop Killing Cyclists and stood as a Labour candidate in the Turnham Green Ward at last year's local elections, drew a parallel between her trips by bike last Thursday with those of the councillor.

The thread also caught the attention of local resident, the broadcaster and cycle commuter, Jeremy Vine.

Another Twitter user also highlighted that building Cycleway 9 would make it quicker, easier and safer to get around by bike.

The London Borough of Hounslow is expected to make a decision on the section of Cycleway 9 that passes through it later this year.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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