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Emergency Investment Planned to Improve Cycling and Pedestrian Infrastructure

Published on: 26 May, 2020
Updated on: 26 May, 2020

Cycle track along A25 at its junction with Woodbridge Meadows

by Martin Giles

Councils are committing millions to make commutes more cycle-friendly as people go back to work.

As lockdown eases, people who can’t work from home are being encouraged to begin commuting again, but ideally not by public transport. That leaves cycling or walking as a preferred option for those who can’t travel by car.

But 61% of people feel that cycling on the road is too dangerous.

The Government has released a £250m “emergency active travel fund” aimed at helping towns prevent their buses, roads and public spaces becoming crowded as lockdown is lifted and issued guidance to councils.

Council Leader Caroline Reeves

Leader of the council, Caroline Reeves says: “The government is investing [the money] nationally to support an emergency active travel fund to encourage and ensure safe walking and cycling. The Department for Transport has suggested that this could include pop-up bike lanes, widened pavements and cycle and bus-only corridors.

“We do not yet know the size of the grant allocated to Surrey County Council, but plans are already being drafted and we are working with SCC to ensure work can commence as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for Cycling UK said now was a “golden opportunity” to encourage people into cycling, and infrastructure changes would be key in changing perceptions of how safe it was to cycle.

The group has encouraged residents to write to their local council asking for improvements to cycle infrastructure, and some 6,000 people have already done so. In some areas, new cycle lanes, wider pavements and low traffic zones in residential areas are among the emergency measures already underway.

Sam Jones, spokesperson for Cycling UK said: “We know that the greatest barrier to most people when they take up cycling is a perception of danger.

“That’s different to the actual danger, cycling is actually no more dangerous than walking per mile travelled.

“We know that the thing that will get people cycling is if they feel safe and pop up cycle lanes and other infrastructure will help.

“This is a golden opportunity to get more people riding but that does require giving people the infrastructure to make them feel safe, and for their kids to feel safe as well.”

Click on image to enlarge

A survey showed that Guildford respondents walked and cycl more than average in England. It was only in the cycling more than three times week categories that Guildford was generally below the national average.

Cllr John Rigg

Cllr John Rigg, Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Town Centre MasterPlan, Infrastructure, Major Projects and Strategic Asset Management, said: “The Coronavirus restrictions have meant many of us have re-appraised the value of quieter roads and less pollution. GBC, having declared a climate emergency, was already intent on encouraging more residents to walk and cycle for all the well-known health and environment advantages. And fewer cars means fewer jams; good for motorists too.

“I am reviewing our programme of major projects but already underway are the council’s ambitious plans for a Sustainable Movement Corridor, to reduce air pollution levels and make journeys more reliable, greener and safer.

“We are proposing that we should combine the cycle network plans prepared by SCC in 2015 and GBC in 2018-20. The cycling network will need for a greater degree of separation from motor traffic. It is the separation of cycling routes from busy roads that is key to making cycling safer and making it feel safer, especially for new cyclists. Encouragingly, a draft version of the study was well-received by the local cycling campaign G-BUG in 2019.

“Also, the council and the University of Surrey are working together on a town-wide public Bike Share Scheme to open when the existing University Cycle Hire Scheme ends in 2023. The new scheme proposes around 150 electric bikes and 25 docking stations which would cover the town centre and west Guildford, including the University campus.”

In a press release issued today (May 26) by Surrey County Council, the county council says it is working with Surrey’s borough and district councils to identify locations where improved spaces for walkers and cyclists would help residents to get out and about as the lockdown is gradually lifted.

“This includes town centres and other shopping areas, where wider pavements would give people confidence to return to the shops and support our high streets – once government restrictions allow more shops to reopen in the coming weeks. Plans are progressing in Farnham, Godalming and Reigate.”

Cllr Matt Furniss

Matt Furniss, cabinet member for Highways, said: “There are huge economic, social and environmental benefits to creating temporary wide pavements and cycle paths. These range from helping people feel able to support their local traders, to improving mental and physical health, and reducing congestion and air pollution.

“This is a fast-paced response to the coronavirus outbreak, but it links with our strategic aim of creating healthier, happier streets in Surrey. The pilot in Farnham will test how pavement widening will work, and we will change as necessary to deliver better streets for residents.

“Transport is responsible for 46% of emissions in Surrey, and tackling this is a key action in our new climate change strategy. Being more active and driving less would be a positive legacy of the sacrifices we’ve had to make due to the lockdown.”



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Responses to Emergency Investment Planned to Improve Cycling and Pedestrian Infrastructure

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    May 26, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Wonderful for those who wish to cycle or walk, and healthy enough to be able to.

    And in the town centre (where is the official boundary?) a journey is probably practical, even in the winter rain. These “pilots” (only one mentioned) should not significantly affect other modes of transport returning to work by the back door as seen already in cities.

    But what about the wider Guildford Borough, where it could require a 25-mile round trip. Or even when a career move dictates a different journey.

    Choice of commuting or travel is multi-faceted. I came to live in Guildford over 30 years ago to work at the Research Park but as I moved employer my commute changed from walking to rail and then driving to Epsom. No way was I going to change a family home just for commuting.

    Please stop implying everybody can and could walk/cycle for all their travelling. It’s a choice, not a requirement.

    Editor’s note: The town centre boundary is normally regarded by GBC as the outside boundary of the following town centre wards: Stoughton, Stoke, Burpham, Merrow, Holy Trinity, Friary & St Nicolas, Onslow, and Westborough.
    GBC Wards map

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      May 28, 2020 at 8:26 am

      Well, I’m even more confused with the Guildford Dragon editor’s note.

      The GBC Town Centre Regeneration Studies have this more conventional map of what is the town centre. Certainly, like the Bike Docking map, it doesn’t extend past Stoke Park in the east.

      So maybe the editor’s note definition is of the “town” rather than “town centre”.

      Editor’s response. Yes, apologies for the confusion. I am grateful to you and Bill Stokoe for pointing out the error. It appears correct that the description I gave was of Guildford town rather than the town centre. I am not sure if there is one official definition of the town centre but I think the map you have sent taken from GBC papers is as good as any. town centre map

  2. Jane Lyons Reply

    May 26, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    I hope that this greener news will be accompanied by guidelines as to where cycling in the town centre is allowed so as to reduce the risk of being mowed down in pedestrianised areas such as the High Street and Tunsgate. Cycling proficiency training should be given to deter cycling the wrong way down a one-way street into a blind corner, as I have witnessed multiple times in Castle Street.

    • Andrew Calladine Reply

      May 28, 2020 at 11:13 pm

      Disappointing to see a largely positive article on cycling and active travel attracts a number of small-minded and prejudiced comments from individuals who offer no constructive ideas of their own. Fortunately they’re the vocal minority and the majority shall get what we want, more opportunities to walk and cycle safely, reduced air pollution and a far more pleasant town to live in.

      • Wilma Kniep-Baan Reply

        June 30, 2020 at 8:08 am

        Andrew Calladine is absolutely right. This is a golden opportunity to change things for the good.

        As a Dutch national, I have always wondered about the near-aversion against cycling in this country, even though it’s healthy, environmentally safe and a pretty normal way to move about in general. Let’s hope the attitude will change and motorists will accept our presence instead of shouting abuse (yes, sadly that happens).

        I regularly cycle from Woking to Guildford and do my very best to keep to the partially constructed cycle path along the A320. Unfortunately, this path is riddled with cracks, potholes and tree roots while overhanging branches present an extra hazard, making the journey a slightly torturous one. To whom should I address a plea for resurfacing and general extension of the cycle path? I’ve looked at the Guildford Borough Council website but can’t find a department to write to about these particular issues. I would be grateful for your advice.

        Editor’s response: We will pass your question on to the local authorities.

  3. Bill Stokoe Reply

    May 26, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    The Local Plan and supporting policies defines the town centre more tightly than that.

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      May 26, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      When Bill Stokoe says tightly, does he mean a better definition than ward boundaries or just a smaller area as in the map of bike share hub?

      Or maybe the lack of any boundary shown in the two maps in the latest issue of the Guildford Tourist Information Guide.

      Having lived in Boxgrove, Merrow, Burpham, “Spice Islands” and now Bellfields, I have always felt I’m a resident of Guildford, but not a resident of the town centre and never contemplated a regular walk “into town”,

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    May 27, 2020 at 9:04 am

    Martin Elliot’s comments highlight the complex nature of commuting and that round-trip distances for many are too great to manage by cycling, let alone walking.

    Cllr Matt Furniss said, “There are huge economic, social and environmental benefits to creating temporary wide pavements and cycle paths…”. But why create temporary facilities? Why not make them part of permanent solutions?

    SCC and GBC have dithered for years in making progress to create a pedestrian-friendly town centre and improve the traffic network. That, in turn, would make walking and cycling safer in the town centre.

    The Sustainable Movement Corridor alone would not solve the problems. The road network has also needs to be improved for additional traffic that would be generated from new housing and the fact that motorised travel would continue to be needed for many trips that could not be made on foot or on bike.

    A new east-west route over the railway is essential and SCC and GBC have missed the opportunity of creating one through the railway station site that is now to be blocked by “The Great Wall of Guildford”. Is there still time to safeguard a route further north through Jewson’s yard? Developers could also block that unless the councils take immediate action. Is it also too late?

    No scheme will be perfect but a speedy solution for Guildford traffic must be found and progressed instead of temporary measures that are a total waste of money.

    Extensive cycle lanes and a pedestrian-friendly town centre could be achieved but not without new infrastructure. This sketch gives some idea of how this could be,-

  5. Gordon Bridger Reply

    May 27, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    I hope someone is looking very carefully at the financial costs and benefits of this investment. The location of docking stations and the rental charges will be important and electric bikes are costly to maintain and often abandoned. Why not all pushbikes? Easier to maintain, lower charges and better exercise.

    As with many central government schemes, capital funds are allocated without preliminary evaluation. When this allocation was made a year or two ago I asked those involved whether any financial analysis had been done – they were quite surprised that this could be an issue.

    Underused docking stations in the town centre, with or without electric bikes, wouldn’t be a good advertisement. One hopes that the financial issues have been carefully considered.

  6. Keith Francis Reply

    May 27, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    Is the cyclist in the picture simply going where she pleases against the traffic?

    The local cyclists’ organisation should encourage cyclists to “obey the rules of the road” as all too often you see them jumping traffic lights even when they are on a very expensive paid for by us cycle path. I shall watch out for them at a notorious spot tomorrow morning.

    Editor’s note: The cyclists in the photo are on a designated cycle route where it crosses Walnut Tree Close.

    • Andrew Calladine Reply

      May 28, 2020 at 11:17 pm

      Keith Francis might like to know the results of studies showing the cyclists do not jump red lights any more than drivers do. In fact, studies show that cyclists make better drivers than drivers who do not cycle. He might also like to know that 80 per cent of drivers admit to breaking the speed limit, so who exactly is ignoring the highway code?

  7. Julia Shaw Reply

    May 27, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    I’m looking forward to seeing where these new cycle/walking routes will be.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      May 28, 2020 at 11:16 am

      How they will be maintained? Currently there appears no budget to maintain existing joint cycle/footpaths.

  8. Dave Middleton Reply

    May 27, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    It would be good if Guildford Borough Council, Woking Borough Council and Surrey County Council could collaborate and create a proper, segregated cycleway from Guildford to Woking and back. The A320 is not cycle-friendly and the footpath, which should not be cycled on anyway, is like a tarmacked ploughed field in places.

    • Wilma Kniep-Baan Reply

      June 30, 2020 at 8:22 am

      I just wrote a comment about this poor excuse for a cycle path along the A320. I would so like to see this path redone and extended so that we are not forced onto the road, which is outright dangerous. Who do we need to write to? Or should we start a petition? I think I saw a possibility for that on the Guildford Council website while I was looking for a department to address my concerns to.

      Editor’s response: We will pass your question on to the local authorities.

  9. Charlie Bennett Reply

    May 28, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    I lived in Rydes Hill and cycled every day to the train station, I didn’t want to get off my bike and walk over the A3, so instead, I cycled along the dual-carriageway, which is not ideal.

    I think it would be great to have a separate bridge for cyclists and walkers connecting the north of Guildford to the south.

    Bike hire schemes are not as necessary as dedicated cycle paths. Get the paths in there first.

  10. S Jordan Reply

    July 17, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    We cycled the Downslink from Rudgwick to Guildford on July 11. Great until you approach Guildford, then you’re dumped back on main road, then back by river which has been closed off, with no signage to warn you of that, then into town.

    Overnight stay in Guildford. Bikes securely locked. Go to collect them 8.15 am & they’ve been pinched.

    Great – try to live well & do the right thing, & then get a kicked. Please can everyone look out for our bikes – a Specialised woman Sirrus ‘V’ (black/blue) & a Giant tough road Adventure bike (black/grey)


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