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Better Cycling and Walking Around Schools

Published on: 19 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 21 Jul, 2023

Cycling on the London Road in Guildford near several schools and the route to and from George Abbot School from the town. But if vegetation is not cut back it can force cyclists further into the road.

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

It could soon be possible to take a “pleasant walk or cycle” along a Surrey road without being “slapped” in the face by “brambles or nettles”.

A motion calling on Surrey County Council to prioritise the maintenance of walking and cycling routes was passed with unanimous cross-party support – as long as the plans pass select committee.

Introducing the item at the Tuesday, July 11 full council meeting, was Residents’ Association and Independents group leader Cllr Catherine Powell (Farnham North).

Cllr Catherine Powell

She said: “The travel choices people make will be driven by how convenient, safe, easy, and enjoyable the options are.

“These choices will also impact on the individuals carbon footprint, and their health and wellbeing.”

Cllr Powell added: “We must make the most of the infrastructure we have already invested in, by proactively maintaining the surfaces, managing vegetation and prioritising the routes that people value most and use most. That will encourage others to use them too.”

The motion, she said, would “ensure our residents are not put off from walking, cycling, scooting because of overgrown paths, poorly repaired surfaces or just the plain absence of a map that shows the cut-throughs through an estate”.

The group hopes new and improved routes, in addition to the increased awareness from new maps – created with input from ramblers and cyclists – would reduce the dependence on driving as a default means of transport.

Cllr Jonathan Essex

The motion was seconded by Cllr Jonathan Essex (Redhill East), leader of the Green Party group, who said it would ensure bus and cycle lanes, as well as pavements, were inspected more frequently.

He told the meeting it would “make it possible to do a pleasant walk or cycle without being slapped by brambles or nettles.”

The motion will go to the council’s highways select committee for approval following an amendment from Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver (Con, Weybridge) who told the meeting decisions requiring policy and budget changes needed greater scrutiny and couldn’t be made on the hoof- but he supported it in principle.

The motion says that increasing cycling and walking is a key objective of the Council, and forms part of  Surrey’s Community Vision for 2030 and Local Transport Plan.

All highway policies will be aligned with the council’s transport vision but, the motion said, more still needs to be done to develop plans to encourage walking and cycling.

As such the council has agreed, subject to agreement from the select committee, to update transport plans to support a higher priority grading on routes for local walking and cycling journeys, – particularly in areas of high employment, schools, hospitals, and leisure facilities.

It will also ensure walking and cycling routes are not blocked by overgrown plants and that highways inspection, for things such as potholes, are extended to left-behind signs, debris on pavements and cycleways and blocked drains.

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Responses to Better Cycling and Walking Around Schools

  1. Jack Bayliss Reply

    July 19, 2023 at 6:46 pm

    When that happens, perhaps cyclists will stop cycling on footpaths … but I doubt it.

  2. Helen Skinner Reply

    July 19, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    This is a great idea, so often good infrastructure is left to decay or becomes so overgrown it is unusable. I report what I can, but a proactive approach would be preferable and would show the council really values active travel across the county.

  3. Julia Shaw Reply

    July 19, 2023 at 7:57 pm

    I really hope this gets passed. We’ve sometimes stopped cycling to school because the path gets so narrow because of the overgrown vegetation, and drive for a bit until its next cut back.

    Does anyone else carry garden snips with them in their cycling bag to cut off the worst offending brambles, or is it just me?

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