Church claims west London cycle superhighway 'will do more damage than the Luftwaffe'

Chloe Chaplain
CS9: the west London cycle path proposed by TfL

Plans for a cycle superhighway in west London would cause more damage to a parish community than Hitler’s Second World War bombs, a church leader has claimed.

Father Michael Dunne, of a church in Chiswick, has urged his congregation to pray that plans for a two-lane cycle path are scrapped after suggesting it would disrupt funeral processions.

He accused Transport for London of proposing developments that would do more harm to the community than German planes during WW2 in a scathing Facebook post.

And he said the “prospective trauma” would disrupt events taking place at The Church of Our Lady of Grace & St Edward, such as weddings, funerals and communions.

TfL is currently consulting on the plans for the Cycle Superhighway 9 (CS9), which would run between Kensington Olympia and Brentford town centre.

Opposition: The Church of Our Lady of Grace & St Edward in Chiswick

Cycle campaigners praised the network – which will run for 5.6 miles and later extend to Hounslow – for lengthening existing paths to parts of London where cycle infrastructure is “virtually non-existent”.

But a statement about the consultation on the church’s website bemoans the plans for reducing pavement outside the entrance to the church to one third of its original size.

A church notice reads: “There is much to pray about for the world and the 10.30am daily public recitation of the Rosary in church will also be praying for success in turning the plans for CS9 away from the High Road and the church.”

It asks parishioners to “consider the impact” on “Sunday Mass congregations gathering on the pavement, the elderly, and families with children vs speeding cyclists.

“Funerals: no right of way for carrying the coffin. No right of way for First Holy Communion and other processions. Weddings: no right of way for Brides in their wedding dresses.”

And Father Dunne wrote in a separate blog post: “We need to highlight how unacceptable it is that the small public space we have needed outside the church to live our community identity for the last 165 years as the Chiswick Catholic parish, should not simply be snatched away from us.

“While clearly TfL do not intend us any ill, it’s nonetheless depressing to reflect that their state-sponsored, tax- payer-funded plans would do our community more harm by removing our capacity for a bridal procession, funeral procession and every other public expression of our Christian identity than the Luftwaffe managed with its wartime bombs,” he wrote.

If the proposals get the go-ahead, it would be the first cycle-superhighway in west London.

The route includes 20 pedestrian crossings and five new traffic light junctions.

It would link with already announced plans to enable cyclists to bypass the Hammersmith gyratory and diverts riders off Chiswick High Road at Turnham Green and onto residential streets, which will be closed to through traffic. Cyclists will also be able to bypass the busy Kew Bridge junction.

The consultation closes on October 31.