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Letter: Consider This Before Tomorrow’s Public Meeting

Published on: 4 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 4 Jan, 2023

From: A retired SCC Highway Engineer and Burpham Resident (name and address supplied).

See: Proposals for London Road, Burpham – Public Meeting

With the upcoming public meeting tomorrow, January 5, the provision of some additional information might be appropriate.

The A3100 London Road, Burpham is one of only two arterial routes from Guildford to and from London via the A3. It is inappropriate to impede such an important route by reducing the road width with the provision of a cycle lane scheme as proposed. It is also unacceptable for the same reasons to close London Road northbound for 5 months.

A plan of traffic survey points on the road network along A3100 London Road, A25 Epsom Road and the A320 Woking Road can be seen on the SCC website. However, SCC wants £120 to view any particular location and consequently is seen as unobtainable.

One particular survey point was listed and does reveal that SCC carried out a “queue length” survey at Boxgrove Roundabout (previously the “AA Roundabout”) indicating that there is an existing congestion problem at this location. Provision of cycleways and a “Dutch” Roundabout will not improve this situation.

See other articles on the proposed London Road works here.

A 2017 traffic count for A3100 London Road, Burpham was obtained via a Department for Transport source. The total number of daily motor vehicles (both directions) was 18,739, cycles just 68.

Professor David Metz, a leading academic on the subject states, “…if road space is taken away from cars to create cycle or bus lanes, then congestion will initially increase. But the additional delays will prompt some drivers to make other arrangements, and congestion will revert to what it had been”.

When he says “other arrangements” he is suggesting that drivers will find other routes. With the A3100 London Road, the only two parallel routes are the A25 Epsom Road or the A320 Woking Road which are both already operating at capacity and thus are not alternatives.

With increased congestion there will be an increase in pollution. Additional travel time is likely to have a negative economic effect. It will also make public transport much slower, leading to a decline in its usage. With the area to the north-east being a rural one it is not necessarily practical to expect people to cycle into Guildford from places as far out as Send or Ockham.

Increasing congestion would seem to be at odds with the “Surrey Transport Plan, 2011-2026, Congestion Strategy July 2014” states that “the focus of the strategy is on journey time reliability, which is seen as important for all users. Crucially, it is recognised that improving reliability can have greater economic benefit than minor improvements in average journey times”.

“Surrey’s target is to ensure congestion – both delay and journey time reliability – does not deteriorate beyond current levels… The ability to travel around the county in a quick and efficient manner is essential to economic success and convenient transport depends on uncongested roads and good public transport services.”

An indication of the number of people who cycle is given by the cycling group “Cycling Embassy of Great Britain” which states that “we are hoping to reach the approximately 97per cent of people that don’t ride a bicycle regularly as opposed to the 3 per cent who do.”

This is confirmed by a report on “Climate Change and Transport Choices” for the Department for Transport which states when people in the survey were asked “asked whether they had considered making more journeys by bicycle”.

62 per cent had never considered, 24 per cent had considered but rejected without trying, 6 per cent had considered but rejected or lapsed after trying, 5 per cent were considering but had yet to make a decision or try, and just 3 per cent had successfully converted some travel to cycling.

A 2019 Sky News poll showed that from a random sample of people, “56 per cent say they would be unwilling to drive significantly less to protect the environment, with 28 per cent saying they would be willing to reduce the amount they drive significantly or give it up entirely (17 per cent already do not drive)”.

Creating cycle lanes reduces the space available for cars but does not necessarily get people out of cars. Copenhagen is a city famous for cycling, with 28 per cent of journeys made by bike. Yet car traffic is only slightly less than in London.

Getting drivers out of cars and onto bicycles has proved more difficult, even in Copenhagen, a small, flat city with excellent cycling infrastructure and a strong cycling culture.

At the heart of a plan to turn London (pop. nine million) into a cycling centre like Amsterdam (pop. one million) is the provision of numerable cycle lanes and schemes. However, what works for the Netherlands does not necessarily work elsewhere.

Incidentally in the Netherlands, the European home of cycling, I believe, if there is a cycle path or cycleway available next to a road, it is often mandatory that the cyclist uses the cycle path, not the road.

It seems the people proposing this scheme are totally disconnected from reality and are blindly intent on implementing these cycle lanes come what may. It is crucial for politicians to evaluate whether bike lanes make sense in a respective location or not. They seem blissfully unaware of the necessity of motor vehicles for some and have no real concept of the economic impact on thousands of people.

 

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Consider This Before Tomorrow’s Public Meeting

  1. Anthony Mallard Reply

    January 4, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    I fear that the final paragraph in the letter of a retired SCC highway engineer will prove to be prophetic. The “we know best” approach and the lip service to consultation by both the elected members and officers of the county council in this matter is woeful.

    In order that those who promote it do not lose face, it may inevitably lead to the imposition of this scheme on the users of this road to the detriment of the residents of Burpham and the wider community of Guildford.

    It will undoubtedly increase pollution and cause harm to health, especially to those children who walk alongside the road to get to the local schools. Do we learn nothing from such cases as Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debra.

  2. Jan Messinger Reply

    January 4, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    I think we all know this information. Especially if you have lived locally all your life.

    As I have said before, those of us in villages around the centre of Guildford town not only have the joys of getting into Guildford but through it.

    We all have family and friends in the area or work on the opposite side of town to where we live.

    With the one-way system now in Walnut Tree Close this can cause me problems getting to family members via the A281, so I had to find an alternative route. The route I identified goes through the village of Burpham where I previously lived. I know what it was like and it’s got worse.

    Yes, we all support cycling but realistically it’s not always possible or the sensible solution. This is not the only local issue. Perhaps the people who are making the decisions for our 150,000-plus residents need to actually live here and see the problems we face when trying to get around our major town close-up.

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