Fringe Box



Letter: London Road – Complain About the Handling of the Project But Not About Its Aim

Published on: 5 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2023

From: Roger Carnegie

Over the last few weeks there have been a range of claims and “facts” in readers’ comments about why we should all object to the London Road cycle scheme.

Many regular contributors have been sprinkling a wide range of claims to try and sway opinion and spark outrage at a modest change to a length of road a mere 0.8 miles long.

There are two parts to the issue; the first the legitimate concern, is the closure of the northbound route for five months.  This will be very disruptive and the wider community should have been be more informed.

I was not aware of the closure or length of time until The Dragon NEWS published stories on the issue. There is a reasonable amount of traffic to disperse and this should be discussed.

The second part is my response to the more insidious comments regarding the need and value of improved infrastructure for non-motorised traffic. The following should be discovered when judging the merit of the scheme:

  • Cars account for approx. 86 per cent of all traffic. Any scheme which allows people of all ages to swap some car journeys and use a bicycle, mobility scooter or walk has the potential to greatly reduce traffic volumes, and benefit those who need to drive.
  • 25 per cent of all car and van journeys are under two miles, and 67 per cent of all car and van journeys are under five miles.  This means a huge number of cars using London Road are making very short journeys (as is their right) but they also cause a large impact on the local community through congestion and pollution.
  • Many comments raise disabled users but don’t say that disabled people are less likely to drive and many can cycle while walking any distance is not practical.
  • The furthest pupil in the George Abbot school of the 2022 intake lived 2.5 miles from the school. With over 2,000 pupils, mostly in very close proximity, offering a safe and convenient way for children to get to school has the potential to take hundreds of car journeys off the roads.  Look at the night and day difference to traffic levels when school holidays begin.
  • UK cycling conditions deter the vast majority of the population from cycling, yet they disproportionately deter young people, older people, women and people with disabilities from cycling.
  • Government surveys continually show overwhelming support for more options to cycle, but there is a small minority who will object to any changes and we read their complaints in The Dragon regularly.
  • From the Aldi roundabout to Guildford High Street is 1.8 miles, if the entire scheme is implemented all the way into the town centre this opens this short journey to many many people.

I wouldn’t be happy with my grandson cycling to school along London Road today as it is a hostile and dangerous environment. The 30 mph speed limit is widely flouted and drivers are much more aggressive on today’s roads.

To campaign to keep the simple pleasure I had as a child of being able to travel independently and relatively safely from others is a sad indication of the selfish culture we see too often today.

I drive, as many of us do, but I also have managed to swap out lots of small journeys to using a bicycle and I greatly enjoy not paying GBC town centre parking charges when I pop into town.

There are those who may be personally against cycling, or feel it is not for them, and that’s a perfectly acceptable viewpoint. However, to then try and impose theirr views and prejudices on everyone else is a step too far.

Complain about the lengthy road closure, but to try and sabotage an improvement to our local community that will benefit everyone however they choose to travel does not have the support of the silent majority.

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Responses to Letter: London Road – Complain About the Handling of the Project But Not About Its Aim

  1. John Lomas Reply

    January 5, 2023 at 2:42 pm

    I have no arguments with Roger’s basic theme for his letter, but I have to ask, how applicable are some of the statistics to this particular stretch of road.

    For example, do the average journey distances which are (presumably national average figures) mentioned actually apply to the traffic along there?

    If a person driving drops off a passenger after 2.5 miles and then carries on for a further 25-mile commute, a traffic census during that first phase would probably only record that phase.

    There are four bus services using that road and even during the middle of the day there appear to be four movements in each direction per hour, probably more at peak hours. The scheme is not permitting adequate clearance for buses and or LGVs meeting each other along there without encroaching on their left towards the cycle lanes.

    While the pupils of George Abbott may well be able to make their own way to school, there will be many parents using this road to drop off nursery or primary children en route for a much longer commute journey, my own daughter used to have a similar situation and people used to complain that she drove the children to school but she had a further 17 miles (unserved by public transport directly) commute to her own teaching job.

    It strikes me that the biggest error around this area was in not providing a southbound on slip and a northbound off slip for the A£ at the northern end of Burpham. Maybe someone knows why those were omitted at the time.

  2. Keith Francis Reply

    January 5, 2023 at 4:45 pm

    Had SCC sent me to Pewley School in Guildford town before it became George Abbot outside the town from my home in Woking and using a bus my journey would have been about 7 miles each way and I believe I would not have been the only compared to a nowadays long-distance traveller.

    In those days, depending upon your 11-plus grade and parental preference Woking County Grammar School for Boys had boys who came from Hersham next to the Rydens School, also near the Camberley and Farnborough schools, Egham, Guildford and Godalming with other boys going in the opposite direction to those schools all using the buses and trains.

    I was fortunate that I could cycle up Guildford Road and as my father came home for his lunch until I started going to the Westfield, Kingfield and Old Woking Schools re-unions I never has a school dinner and then it was fish and chips.

  3. Jack Bayliss Reply

    January 5, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    I am 80. I cycle for short distances instead of using my car but not: (a) the it is raining or icy; (b) when I have more shopping to buy than I can fit in the two panniers; (c) when I want or need to take my dog with me.

    Unless a cycle lane is physically separated from motor traffic safely will not be much increased.

    Most cyclists in the UK, with the exception of those in very large cities such as London, are those who cycle for recreation or exercise and not as an alternative to the use of a car.

    Let us have some research into those would fall into the latter category if there were safer cycle lanes in towns, then we could see whether money is to be well spent.

  4. Nathan Cassidy Reply

    January 5, 2023 at 11:32 pm

    All fantastic points from Roger Carnegie. I couldn’t agree more.

    I would like to add another fact. I was at the Burpham consultation meeting tonight and a few people mentioned about the £4 million cost, arguing it was too much money for increasing the safety of cyclists. I think this cost needs to be in context. Tthe A3 M25 junction upgrade is going to cost £250 million. With that money we could install cycle lanes across all main roads in Guildford.

    People are also ignoring the cost benefits from reduced road wear if fewer people are driving down this road in heavy (especially if they are electric) cars. This in turn will save the council millions.

    • Andrew Calladine Reply

      January 6, 2023 at 3:29 pm

      Nathan Cassidy makes a great point, £4 million is a drop in the ocean in terms of infrastructure projects. The £250 million on the M25/A3 junction changes is a waste of money as the congestion level will be back to the same level in less than five years.

      Jack Bayliss has unintentionally made the point about why this infrastructure is needed. It’s not designed for people who are already cycling, but for those that don’t because they feel unsafe. Infrastructure like this means that the minority cycling for transport go from the minority to the majority.

  5. Julia Shaw Reply

    January 10, 2023 at 9:31 pm

    Roger Carnegie makes several great points. I would love to cycle along London road with my kids or on my own but I cycled along the road once and found it terrifying. I can’t wait for this to be built. We would use it to cycle to town or the Spectrum after school.

    My kids will likely go to the George Abbot after they finish primary school and I would like them to be able to cycle there safely on their own without me driving them, polluting the planet and adding to congestion.

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