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Letter: Council’s Road Infrastructure Plans, Based On ‘Modal Shift’, Are Fantasy

Published on: 18 Jan, 2017
Updated on: 18 Jan, 2017

From Bibhas Neogi

With regard to Ben Paton’s opinion piece: What Is The Point of a Local Plan That Does Not Stick Up for Local People?, I would only comment on the road infrastructure as I have a slightly better understanding of this compared to other infrastructures.

The proposal by Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council is to do no expansion of the network; rather they will restrict it. Their mantra is “modal shift” – that is more walking, bus rides and cycling to the extent of a hoped for reduction of about 50% of the motorised traffic. Yes, 50% of the traffic!

Walking and cycling is good for our health no doubt, but getting run over by frustrated motorists sitting in traffic jams for hours on end is going to be very unhealthy indeed.

Guildford Vision Group has also fallen for, or decided to take a similar, approach, hoping for a 27% reduction (mentioned by them here on The Dragon) for their scheme to work.

This is a novel approach to traffic engineering. You might ask why. The real answer, I believe, is that they do not know of a solution to the problem, so they fit their proposal to match a much reduced traffic volume. And that will be achieved through “modal shift”. This is not design, this is fantasy.

Guildford is not like Oxford, Cambridge or Winchester. Oxford and Cambridge (sort of) have ring-roads and Winchester is bypassed by the M3, the A31 and the A34. Short of creating a ring road for Guildford, traffic has to pass through it as there is no viable north-south route and the east west route is congested due to part being on the A3.

I have offered a solution but scant attention has been given to it. Any reader can find it by searching for “revamp guildford gyratory”.

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Responses to Letter: Council’s Road Infrastructure Plans, Based On ‘Modal Shift’, Are Fantasy

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    January 19, 2017 at 7:26 am

    This is the basic problem highlighted by Bibhas Neogi on many occasions.

    Why does no one listen to common sense?

  2. A Atkinson Reply

    January 19, 2017 at 9:44 am

    As a chartered civil engineer specialising in roads, I’m surprised that Bibhas Neogi has failed to realise that the transport plan does not rely only on the modal shift fantasy, much written about by the planning consultants at Disney, Universal and Pixar Ltd. There are also truck-loads of fairy dust to be sprinkled around which will simply makes the current issues disappear in a flash, poof…gone. It must be true they have “modelled” it.

    One only has to look at the proposal for Wisley. The traffic around the area will, it is claimed, reduce with the building of 2000+ houses, schools, shops and work places.

    Shopping will get to residents’ cupboards and fridges on magic carpets, not on the handlebars of bikes as the modal shift fantasy suggests. The University of Surrey are in the final stages of development plans which will rely on Floo Powder Extra. This innovative development on the basic powder used in Harry Potter to transport people through chimneys to wherever they wanted, is designed to transport cars and their passengers to wherever.

    The project was delayed as it was designed for garage and driveway use, but having reviewed the developers plans, only street parking or outdated rear courtyard/back alley/garage block type parking, so criticised by the police, is being provided.

    Apparently the CIA have refused to confirm or deny as to whether any of the pictures recently released include fairies and pixies hovering over Guildford. And Mr Trump says: “It’s all going to be great!”

    And in all good fairytales and fantasies we all live happily ever after……don’t we? Time will tell.

  3. Peter Davies Reply

    January 19, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I note the model shift policy and wonder if Guildford, a town that thinks it’s number one in the South East, has realised how hard it is working on making public transport more difficult to use. For example, they intend to close the central bus station (with spare, as yet, unredeveloped land adjoining it) and spread the buses around the town, or find somewhere further from the centre.

    There is no plan for at least two or three extra park and rides to accommodate 50% of the vehicle passengers they want to use public transport.

    Guildford town planners and the council need to appreciate that the people that come to Guildford, from probably up to 20 miles away, and help make it a vibrant town indirectly putting a lot of money into the Guildford economy and the council coffers, have choices.

    Maybe Basingstoke, Reading, Dorking, Camberley, Kingston etc. are more customer friendly and offer a stress free shopping experience?

    Likewise buses. Buses may go towards Guildford but they can also take people away to another town. The big shop names will be quick to move away from the town if their takings fall significantly.

    The powers that be that are making decisions need to put away the sticking plaster and and stitch up the wound. Be bold and think “Customer First!” Have a real vision of what Guildford needs for the future. If they want to keep the traffic out of Guildford they have to have an alternative we would welcome; a layout we would not see as an obstacle course.

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    January 21, 2017 at 11:40 am

    An infallible test of whether public officials are trying to pull over the public’s eyes is when they start to use la-la-land expressions instead of plain English.

    ‘Modal shift’ is a weasly way of saying that everyone should get on their bikes. But since they haven’t the guts to tell it straight they invent a posh circumlocution so that most people haven’t got a clue what they are on about.

    Do the leadership of Guildford Borough Council even own bicycles, let alone use them? Helicopters seem to their preferred mode of transport!

    Could they change a bicycle tyre? Only with ‘pneumatic rehabilitation and substitution training’ from DCLG. And only then if central government provides a ‘modal shift’ subsidy.

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