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‘Don’t Bow to Naysayers’ Say Cycling Campaigners

Published on: 16 Feb, 2024
Updated on: 19 Feb, 2024

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Campaigners are calling on the county not to bow to a “minority of naysayers” and end its record as the UK’s worst for cycling casualties by introducing “high-quality alternatives to car travel”.

The Guildford Bike Users Group (GBUG) wants Surrey County Council to go through with plans to improve walking and cycling routes – known as an “active travel” scheme – between Burpham and the town centre.

See also: Dragon Interview – Authors of the ‘Alternative’ London Road Survey

Among the group is a young girl who said she was almost hit by a car when it came “zooming past her”.

Their website asks, “is active travel, the planet and Juliette’s life important? If so, Surrey County Council should go ahead with the proposed and government funded improvements along London Road.”

Last year the county council launched a proposal for the Burpham to Guildford Active Travel Scheme along the busy London Road.

According to the council’s promotional material: “Active travel routes are designed to give people high quality alternatives to car travel that are less harmful to the environment and to help make it safer for people walking or cycling.”

They can also improve traffic for more vulnerable people and those who rely on cars by giving those capable of cycling a viable option to do so.

This reduces the number of cars on the road and frees space on the public highways.

With the consultation now closed the Guildford Bike User’s Group (GBUG) has written an open letter to Surrey County Council’s leader and chief executive calling on them to honour the public’s support of the scheme.

They say results show 50 per cent of respondents agree and support the scheme while about 30 per cent are against, with 20 per cent neither agreeing or disagreeing.

Additionally, GBUG claims the project has the support of nearby schools, emergency services, and other community groups.

The letter read: “Local support for the scheme, following the engagement process, is clearly significant and overwhelming.

“Disappointingly despite this majority support, we have heard a rumour that the Surrey County Council Cabinet may still not be supporting the scheme.

“Please confirm this is not the case?

“If this happens we strongly demand to know what has happened to the democratic process here and while we understand that the Survey was non-statutory we would expect it’s overwhelmingly conclusive results to be published, accepted and implemented.

“We would also point out that if Surrey does drop the London Road scheme it negates all the adopted green strategies it has itself developed and signed up to recently.”

According to the council, it is still in the process of reviewing the responses and will make a decision later this month.

GBUG has also released a short video  on the busy London Road and Boxgrove Road junction.

In it Juliette says: “I was crossing a road and a car came zooming past and almost hit me.”

Her father Sam Neatrour, who drives as well as cycles, said: “As a concerned parent, the roads in Guildford and Surrey just aren’t safe.

“Narrow pavements, and totally ruled by motor cars at the expense of anybody who wants to use it, bike or pedestrian.

“My daughter Juliette went to cross the road. Even though I was with her someone zoomed past us by ten centimetres and almost smashed into her.

“Cars are so much bigger and infrastructure is needed to give other users a fighting chance.”

He cited areas in London that have benefited from improved cycling infrastructure such as Walthamstow and Surbiton as examples Surrey should follow.

Surrey County Council declined to comment any further on the campaign group’s claims saying that it would wait until after any formal decisions were made.

Cllr Matt Furniss

Speaking at the launch of the consultation in September, though, was Cllr Matt Furniss  (Con, Shalford), cabinet member for Transport, Infrastructure and Economy.

He said: “The views of our residents are important to us, and this is why we chose to pause the introduction of this scheme to allow more time to engage with a wider group of people.

“We have also developed new arrangements to significantly minimise disruption while the scheme is being built, which would see road closures only occurring at night.

“Surrey has the highest number of cyclist casualties in the UK and is the fifth highest for pedestrian casualties in Great Britain – we have a responsibility to help address this by providing safe routes and crossing facilities to town centres and other locations such as schools.

“With 41 per cent  of Surrey’s carbon emissions coming from transport, we are also committed to doing all we can to make Guildford and the whole of Surrey a cleaner, greener place to live and travel.

“I encourage residents and others who travel in these areas to take the opportunity to have their say.”

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Responses to ‘Don’t Bow to Naysayers’ Say Cycling Campaigners

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    February 16, 2024 at 2:57 pm

    There has been a lot of views expressed and comments on the SCC design and safety issues on the proposed alterations to cycle lanes and pedestrian paths in London Road.

    The road is too narrow in a few places south of the roundabout by George Abbott School. In order to fit in a two-way road and cycle lanes that would be considered safe by many. A possible solution could be to make the stretch from Boxgrove roundabout to this roundabout northbound and one lane wide only. If this were done, freed up road space would enable safer cycle lanes and footways to be accommodated.

    Southbound access to Boxgrove roundabout from Abbotswood would be possible when this local traffic uses southern Abbotswood exit to London Road and then turn right iinto Boxgrove Avenue to exit on to the A25.

    However, from the area north of Abbotswood of London Road and Burpham area it would be necessary to find an alternative way to Guildford town. London Road would remain two-way between New Inn Lane and George Abbott roundabout and the design would remain as per SCC proposal.

    London Road would have no through southbound traffic to Guildford and that reduction would be a great benefit in increasing safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.

    I am proposing that the emergency access by the side of Clay Lane be converted into a southbound on-slip of the A3. Of course cooperation of National Highways and some changes would be necessary to road layout and signing etc but nothing too onerous and all could be done at a fairly modest cost.

    This document describes the changes that are necessary for this to be created. It can be found in

  2. Andrew Lewis Reply

    February 17, 2024 at 1:55 pm

    The scheme is a political stunt . It is expensive and will lead to greater pollution through static traffic.

  3. Malcolm Stanier Reply

    February 17, 2024 at 8:45 pm

    It seems that Matt Furniss and senior SCC officers are determined to force through their London Road Active Travel scheme despite cogent and well-known problems which will see increased traffic congestion on an important route into Guildford.

    This all to possibly, according to SCC’s own figures, increase the number of cyclists by around 200 over an existing figure of under 200. With this scheme costing £4.2 million it takes little or no account to the approaching 19,000 drivers using London Road every day.

    I would suggest that it is vociferous vocal minority who are pro this scheme and unfortunately a largely silent majority that can see the reality of proceeding with the ill-conceived plan.

    There would seem to be a partly political motive in Cllr Matt Furniss [Con, Shalford] promoting this scheme with it being funded by a Conservative government grant. It enables them to claim that they are implementing environmental action to promote reduction of internal combustion engined vehicles.

    • John Perkins Reply

      February 18, 2024 at 11:23 am

      My way or the highway (pun intended) appears to be characteristic of Cllr Furniss. He personifies the current Tory obsession with a high tax and spend nanny state.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      February 18, 2024 at 11:43 am

      Active travel is good for both better health and reducing our use of cars, unless unavoidable, in order to make roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

      Use of less fuel be it fossil or renewable can benefit the overall aim of reducing the rise in global temperature. It is leading to extreme rainfall, flooding and rise of sea level endangering low-lying islands including coastal areas of the UK.

      Solutions are often looked at in the context of what could be done within the existing constraints. However, innovative solutions go beyond the problem area and can find solutions in a wider area that enables localised problem to be resolved.

      My suggestion to create a southbound on-slip to the A3 described above is one that should be beneficial in attaining a less congested London Road and a safer one too. It would be a great improvement for all accessing the A3 southbound from Burpham area. It would also make temporary traffic management a lot easier for London Road improvement scheme.

      Of course SCC needs to explore this possibility and if deemed viable, consult with National Highways. I do not have all the relevant information regarding the area concerned but I hope there are no real problems in this conversion both from the altered movement of traffic and from environmental considerations.

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