That's because what was a cycle lane, got turned into a narrow, high-restricted traffic lane instead.
Notice how, along with the signs for the terminal there's one for "short stay parking"
That is: in order to cope with the number of cars entering the area, including private cars doing dropoff and parking in short stay parking bays. And of course the multi-storey staff parking in the central mess of what just another pedestrian and cycling hating 1970s gyratory.
They have added a "cycling hub"
That's not a hub: its a fucking spoke —and if Heathrow management are proud of it they haven't spoken to a single person who has ever tried to cycle to the airport.
The approach? That'll be on road on the A4
It's worth remembering at this point is that only a few years ago, LHR promised "No third runway".
They lied. They probably had it on a roadmap at the time. This shows that (a) LHR can't be trusted and (b) if you want a binding commitment from them, you need to include a penalty in the T&Cs. If they really had meant "no third runway", the government should have said "you wont mind signing this clause that says £5000 pounds to everyone in the flight path plus £5B to central government".
Because all of this is about profit. Why do LHR have short-stay parking? Because its so fucking profitable. Why do LHR expect government to fund the M25 tunnels, refuse to pony up for Crossrail: it would hurt their profits: "Heathrow has repeatedly said it is not willing to pay more than about £1 billion, though the costs are estimated by Transport for London to be £15 – 20 billion." (source airportwatch)
LHR's business is about flying passengers in and out the airport. They like the hub idea, as it gets more people through: on the planes, in the shops. The airlines and the business love it too.
Those are the business in the "Greater LHR", the sprawl of companies nearby. All notable by their vast car parks, roads of death and lack of cycle parking.
This street view, for example, is facing 180 degrees away from Hatton Cross tube station. There's a tube station right behind, yet a vast car park for staff to drive to.
This is the mindset of every company supporting the 3rd runway: we want more planes near the offices which we drive to.
It's why the airport and the roads around it stand out as the outer london pollution hub (source: war on the motorist)
Yet LHR think their proposal will not make things worse: things are already fucking awful.
What's their vision? NOx is Somebody Else's Problem which will magically go away
- Crossrail: this does nothing to discourage the "Greater LHR" staff/business traffic which forms the inner ring of pollution, nothing for the core, nothing for the new and expanded runways. And priced such that it will be a luxury option from the West Country.
- Euro6 and EVs on the M4. Euro6 has been shown to be a line. That part of the proposal needs to be taken out of the spreadsheet.
- The cycling hub
Which shows that they don't give a fuck, aren't prepared to do anything about it except pretend on spreadsheets that the actions of others will address it.
What's their problem? Failure to recognise that they are the central cause of the pollution, and should act on it.
A key point must be for them to recognise that they themselves are directly and indirectly responsible for all the pollution caused in Greater LHR, and they have to address it.
They need to understand something simple: every vehicle driving on heathrow related business is four less passengers. Make it that simple and they would start to think about what they should do.
Why are any private cars coming into the airport? Why not taxi only and dedicated disabled access (enforced) only, with special dropoff points for outside the central hub? Remove that traffic, converting one of each direction's tunnels into an electric tram the way other airports do, and you boost the capacity of the tunnels, and provide something for the commuters to get on their bikes with. Commuters —because every single staff parking bay needs to go. That's for the executive down: everyone who drives to work is costing the airport three passengers.
The airport could take baby steps immediately
- impose a toll on all private vehicles driving through the tunnel. A pound would be a start.
- remove that staff parking
- fix the fucking cycle access
- give all staff free bus and tube travel.
- get rid of the magic paint on the A4 and provide cycle routes for the staff from hounslow that are on a par with what central london is rolling out. If there is room for it in Central London, there's room for it by the A4. Boris has shown that.
Then turn to every business nearby whose livelihood depends on the airport and say "every one of your vehicles costs us for passengers: act". Again: close the car parks, offer free public transport, cycle parking. There's a wrinkle there: company funded train or TfL transport is treated as a taxable benefit, employees pay for it. Staff parking is not. That's something that central government could address, but in the meantime, what few parking bays remain could be billed for at significantly more than the tax-per-day of staff commuting by public transport. That will get people to prioritise.
Those trade unions saying "we need this!" —go to them and say "if your employees need this, they're going to have to stop driving". Make it clear there's a fucking choice.
From the perspective of Bristol —which would benefit a lot more from LHR expansion than Gatwick— LHR need to come up with a story. If there is more than one passenger, renting a car to drive from the city to one of those vast airport rental dropoff points is cheaper than two coach tickets, and avoids sitting in that central bus station which is as awful as a Banksy's Dismaland. LHR hate bus passengers. That's in the central hub, its almost as bad at T4 and T5 where you sit in a little bench and are expected to feel grateful.
If there are three passengers from Bristol, a private hire vehicle is less than those coach tickets; a PHV whose driver will come in early, wait in that short-stay parking and so give you a journey home whose experience outshines anything else.
If you are on a company trip and going for less than five days, you can get from the Bristol/S Gloucs North Fringe in under two hours, drop your car off right in front of the airport for a driver of Purple Parking or similar for them to park off-airport, bring it back to you. Because if you can get a private car right up the terminal -you would, wouldn't you? And of course, in a world of autonomous cars, anyone can do this, reading emails to the airport, sleeping on the way back after a long-haul flight to a new BRIC destination
Today the train from Bristol to Paddington and out doesn't cut it. While the LPAD->LHR stage is fast, you go past the airport and back again, on a train which can stop just outside paddington for 15 minutes because "they weren't expecting a train". And on the return journey, miss your reservation and you'll be fighting with all the reading commuters for space. Currently, the Bristol-paddington-LHR route is a premium option which can go horribly wrong. Crossrail will help with the logistics —but do nothing for the pricing, which will still be more than driving to the airport in a diesel car. With an electric car, the cost per mile will be so low that you really won't bother. And while that may reduce your personal NOx, it will create the M4 congestion which boosts pollution of all the diesels on the road.
Now look at Frankfurt airport, one of the big competitors
- The Frankfurt AirRail terminal has its own baggage pickup: you can walk to the terminal and pick up your bags there.
- You can check in at Frankfurt central train station, getting issued with a train ticket and the flight boarding card.
- You can drop your bags at the station too. At heathrow: its trollies, queuing for elevators, pushing them up slopes, walking about half a mile underground.
- If you get a flight with Lufthansa, you can buy a return train ticket to anywhere in germany for 29 €.
Imagine if you could do the same in the UK? At Paddington, Reading, Bristol, and at Kings Cross/St Pancras you could check in while waiting for the next train, get on the fast electric train to the airport, arrive at the station, drop off your bag and walk straight to security. For less than today's cost of a Heathrow express return ticket.
That would transform airport access for passengers from places in driving distance to the airport —suddenly it would be both cheaper and easier to get the train.
Finally, it's notable that LHR cite Paris and Amsterdam as the other key competitors. That's paris which bans cars on polluting days, which is trying to go car free. And Amsterdam, which has so many people cycling that their NOx map doesn't resemble other European cities. LHR need to look at London at a whole and conclude that anything done to reduce NOx and CO2 pollution in the city itself benefits them. If flight is so essential, then they need to think about offsetting flight pollution through a reduction in road pollution throughout the city —and work towards it with TfL.
Do Heathrow see that? Do they look at mainland europe and think "we should copy Frankfurt"? Go to BA and FGW and say "copy Lufthansa or we won't give you extra runway slots". Do they go to the business round the airport and say "what are you doing?"
No they fucking don't. They produce PDF files with the usual "empty road" bollocks you always get, fingers pointing at EURO6 cars, which, when that fails, LHR can say "not our fault", and build a cycling hub in the bit of the airport the furthest from the centre of the airport as it is possible to build.