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Letter: Driving to Less Crowded Spaces for Exercise Should Be Permitted

Published on: 29 Mar, 2020
Updated on: 29 Mar, 2020

Surrey Wildlife and Surrey County Council car parks have been closed

From: Felicity Colman

In response to: Council Plea Again To Stay Home  After Groups Still Gather In Parks

Is walking to your local park along busy pavements safer than driving a short distance to a more open, less crowded, local area?

Closing council car parks serving local walking areas, eg Sheepleas, is pushing people into increasingly restricted and so more crowded spaces. Their website claims this is to encourage social spacing. It would seem to be having the opposite effect.

Being outside taking exercise is mentally and physically beneficial, so very important, it needs to be made easier to keep the vital safe space.

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Responses to Letter: Driving to Less Crowded Spaces for Exercise Should Be Permitted

  1. Wayne Smith Reply

    March 29, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    How would Felicity Colman propose restricting the number of people that drive to those more open, less crowded, local areas?

    On Sunday 22-March (Mothers’ Day) I walked the 2.5 miles from Merrow to Newlands Corner. The car park was nearly full at 9.15am, cars and motorbikes. People were milling about and chatting as if they’d never heard of social distancing or Coronavirus. It’s worth noting that they faced similar issues in Ireland where, as of March 28, people are now required to exercise within 2km of their homes.

    I don’t often agree with the way things are done by our council but I think they are right in their advice on this one.

  2. Ashley Golder Reply

    March 30, 2020 at 9:32 am

    I absolutely agree with Felicity Colman.

    I know that there have been some instances where public open spaces have been seen to be crowded, but these are generally in city or highly populated urban areas. I see no reason at all to implement this policy on a UK wide basis. In most areas it will ease congestion if these spaces were to be open, which surely must be desirable?

    I believe that the vast majority of people are now very aware of the absolute need to keep there distance, so even in heavily populated city areas I think that it would be the lesser of evils to keep every space possible open to all.

  3. John Lomas Reply

    March 30, 2020 at 11:56 am

    I concur with the idea of moving to real open spaces for daily exercise.

    I live in an area of terraced houses, front door straight onto the pavement, so walking down the middle of the road might keep me away from other people but there are still some cars and vans about.

    But the biggest problem I have experienced is the habit of some drivers, when entering a large, even almost empty, car park, to park next to any other car that is already there.

    This is not a modern phenomenon; even back when I was first driving in the early 1960s I would look for a deserted spot to stop for a mid-journey picnic and could almost guarantee that someone else would then pull in to the same spot even if it was barely large enough for two vehicles.

  4. Terry Fox Reply

    March 30, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    Felicity is absolutely right. Most of our citizens are being responsible when out in the countryside. We walked in the countryside today and it wasn’t overcrowded and everyone gave each other plenty of space.

    I realise it may be best to be over cautious but it does seem that there are a number of regulations which have not been subject to common sense or those implementing them are overzealous.

  5. Graham Potter Reply

    April 1, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    The pan(dem)ic reaction by SCC was taken after the first weekend when restrictions had only just been announced. Of course everyone did not have the patience to be bored by PM Boris saying the same thing three times over on the evening news (which kept changing its times on BBC).

    Now in Guildford, everyone is limited to two parks (really playing fields) where you can bump into someone coming round a clubhouse or on a narrow path in a small patch of woodland. St Martha’s/Chantries, owned by the borough council, has of course an equally crowded car park and many residents, including the elderly, can walk there from home.

  6. Robert Good Reply

    April 6, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    I agree closing off tracts of open countryside is an over-reaction by Guildford County Council.

    My partner and I are active seniors. We started social-distancing when it was obvious for anyone with eyes to see what was coming.

    In order to stay safe and escape from the stress of media broadcasting, we started walking outside Guildford for one hour a day on most days.

    We never saw a problem with over-crowded car parks.

    Even if there were 25 cars, there would only be one or two parking or leaving – but well over two metres away.

    When out walking it was rare to meet others, and when we did we were able to greet each other and pass at a safe distance.

    It is rejuvenating and healthy to get out. Listening to the birds, watching the clouds, smelling the air, chatting with my partner about things we were seeing – all are health-enabling alternatives to stress-creating all-consuming virus concerns.

    The rationale that this decision helps social distancing is misconceived. It is clearly much safer for someone to be in a private car – and walking with social distancing – than going shopping, taking trains or buses or going to work.

    Regrettably, part of the problem has been caused by the Prime Minister saying there was nothing wrong with a quarter of a million strangers rubbing shoulders at Cheltenham races. No responsible person should have done so.

    It is not surprising some followed his lead.

    None of the politicians who have now barricaded countryside car parks has shown a hint of regret over their party leader’s conduct.

    It is lamentable. Closing car parks is no solution.

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