Fringe Box



Letter: Some Concerns About the London Road Active Travel Scheme

Published on: 19 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 21 Oct, 2023

Image of London Road taken in August 2022. Google Street View.

From: Niels Laub

The Local Transport Note 1/20 “Cycle Infrastructure Design” provides guidance and good practice for the design of cycle infrastructure and provides a recommended basis for those standards based on five overarching design principles and 22 summary principles.

Local authorities are required to demonstrate that they have given due consideration to this guidance when designing new cycling schemes, and also when applying for government funding that includes cycle infrastructure.

The problem with the proposal to provide segregated cycle paths along the London Road is that there simply isn’t enough room. There are three separate pinch points where the width is severely restricted: (1) outside Guildford High School (2) for at least 100 metres in both directions outside the Emporia and (3) by the Kingpost Parade.

In each of these areas, there is insufficient space to provide the minimum widths for cycle paths, therefore SCC have reverted to pavements shared between cyclists and pedestrians, which, according to the Local Transport Note 1/20, should only be used as a very last resort.

The three pinch points:

1. At the High School, because of the restricted width caused by the embankment, all cyclists are required to cross the road onto a shared pavement outside the High School. This pavement will have to accommodate pedestrians travelling in both directions and cyclists travelling in both directions.

Bear in mind that this is immediately outside a busy secondary school where girls are walking to and from the station and to and from their sports facilities. In addition, there is no provision for coaches to drop off visiting teams or pick up girls travelling to away matches and, when they do step off the coach, they will do so into the path of cyclists.

2. Outside the Emporia, for at least 100 metres, the restricted width forces pedestrians and cyclists to share long stretches of the pavement which are typically only 1.4 metres wide on both sides. Moreover, because the cycle path is next to a wall more than 600 high, the recommended minimum cycle path of 2 metres should actually be increased in width by .5 metres to 2.5 metres.

3. At the Kingpost Parade the restricted width means that, at this busy shopping area, most of the pavements are shared between cyclists and pedestrians. The bus stop at Kingpost Parade has no segregation between pedestrians and cyclists nor for people waiting at the bus stop.

Other key issues

The permitted overall width of HGVs, and wide vehicles generally, is 2.95 metres to the wing mirrors. Some of the carriageways have been reduced to 3100 which means that the wing mirrors of HGV’s and buses travelling in opposite directions will miss each other by only .15 metres (6 inches). These carriageways are far too narrow for that recommended for an urban A road carrying buses and HGVs which should normally be expected to be 3650 mm.

LTN 1/20 recommends a minimum .5 metres separation between cycle paths and carriageways in a 30mph urban zone (refer to Table 6-1 on page 54). No such separation has been provided anywhere.

There are no laybys at bus stops which means all traffic will be held up behind busses and unable to pass at the bus stops. Nor is there any room for central reservations for cars turning right which is another possible cause of congestion at peak periods.

Because of the narrow carriageways and raised kerbs, in the event of an accident, the emergency services will be unable to pass the queues of traffic held up on London Road.

The scheme has introduced five additional pedestrian crossings controlled by traffic lights along the London Road which is bound to increase traffic congestion considerably. The pedestrian crossings at each end of the cycle street, outside the High School, have been introduced to allow cyclists to cross the road because there is no southbound cycle path along this stretch of the road. These pedestrian crossings are therefore likely to be very busy and will exacerbate traffic congestion.

The introduction of parallel crossings at the roundabouts at Woodruff Avenue and New Inn Lane contradict the advice of the Cycle Embassy of Great Britain which states that parallel crossings should never be used to link sections of shared pavement, and, although fundamental to the concept of the cycle route, these crossings are likely to cause further congestion due to stationary traffic at these roundabouts.

Long stretches of the cycle paths are only 1.4 metres wide which is far narrower than the recommended minimum widths in LTN 1/20. Moreover, a high percentage of the total route is designated as shared pavements which, according to the LTN 1/20 should only be used as a very last resort.

It seems incongruous that the majority of the new cycle paths are designed to minimum standards, or even less than minimum standards, rather than optimum standards. 1.4 metres wide cycle paths are clearly unsuitable for cargo bikes which would be unable to safely overtake pedestrians.

The introduction of a Dutch-style roundabout at such a busy junction is likely to cause severe delays at peak times and is bound to cause safety issues where traffic is supposed to give way to cyclists and pedestrians both while approaching and when leaving the roundabout.

Their own traffic modelling states that “the Dutch-style roundabout created poor performance on all arms. With an 11 per cent decrease in overall capacity, queue lengths and delay times increased to unsuitable levels. A 260.1 second delay was anticipated as the longest queue”.

In order to introduce cycle paths beside Stoke Park they have removed approximately 180 metres of parking which equates to approximately 30 parking bays depending on the size and length of the car.

Bus stops generally have not been designed in accordance with LTN 1/20 in that bus stops tend to be located in an area of shared pavement rather than directing a segregated cycle path around the back of the bus stop with designated crossing points for pedestrians to access the bus stop. Pedestrians waiting at the bus stop are not separated from cyclists.

The introduction of a section of “cycle street” immediately outside the High School is not consistent with the concept of “quiet mixed traffic streets” as described in Chapter 7 in the LTN 1/20. This road is a busy arterial route to and from the town centre carrying heavy goods vehicles as well as being a major bus route.

Moreover, the restricted carriageway widths do not allow vehicles to safely overtake cyclists. It also seems confusing to provide a cycle street next to a shared pavement designed for cyclists and pedestrians. How are cyclists to know which route to take?

These proposals for Active Travel should attempt to improve matters for road users by making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. In reality, because there is insufficient space, the proposals are likely to make it more hazardous for cyclists and pedestrians and are likely to increase traffic congestion and air pollution in the area.

Share This Post

Responses to Letter: Some Concerns About the London Road Active Travel Scheme

  1. Anthony Mallard Reply

    September 19, 2023 at 8:28 pm

    This comprehensive critique of the SCC proposals in respect of the London Road Active Travel Scheme illustrates what many local people, businesses and other relevant people, including me, have been remarking all along.

    When will SCC get the message that this scheme will increase air pollution, cause harm to local businesses and most important of all, increased danger to road users of all persuasions. For the safety of all road users and those whose homes, schools and workplaces abut the London Road, it must be abandoned now.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    September 19, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    An excellent overall summary. There are also four so called tiger crossings at Woodruff and new Inn Lane. These parallel crossings have been incorrectly laid out so that cyclists will be left in a blind spot to any van or larger turning left while leaving they cyclist thinking they have a safe right of way to go straight on!

    There is no traffic modeling on the New Inn junction and no relevance has been applied to the adjacent Clay Lane traffic influence, nor the planned A3 south slip for Gosden Hill development which will fundamental change traffic patterns.

    In short, the safest access road entering Guildford central area is going to be made more dangerous by this proposal.

  3. John Lomas Reply

    September 19, 2023 at 10:47 pm

    It is also worth bearing in mind the width of wheelchairs, mobility scooters and perambulators. My mobility scooter is 0.72 metres which appears to be over half the available width at the Emporia.

    How much room will be left when the refuse collectors just dump the various containers anywhere they like on the pavement?

  4. Martin Elliott Reply

    September 20, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    Again, as with other highways schemes, Surrey Highways has chosen to implement a “pet scheme” (Walnut Tree Close), ignoring all good design standards, codes, and guidance.

    Why? Because there is government grant available.

    As demonstrated in this analysis, it decreases safety for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable users. It increases congestion and possibly safety (collision) of large vehicles.

    So, in fact, no real benefits and lots of drawbacks once one looks at every element, even those defined as safety improvements.

  5. Ben Paton Reply

    September 20, 2023 at 2:50 pm

    This letter is to be commended as a fine example of how a public spirited citizen has undertaken conscientious research (gratis) on the relevant rules and regulations and shared the information with the community via The Dragon.

    Surrey County Council should value and give appropriate weight to this input which, if it had commissioned it from a “consultant”, would have cost it a lot of money.

    Sadly, experience shows that local government bodies ignore the people who elect them – and especially when informed, highly qualified citizens make relevant, correct, instructive points.

    I rather doubt whether anyone at the county council or at the borough council will have the courtesy to respond.
    “plough on regardless” seems to be the motto of the Lib Dem and Conservative parties.

  6. Niels Laub Reply

    September 21, 2023 at 9:16 am

    If you find this article relevant and of interest, please forward a link to as many of your friends as possible and urge them to either visit the “drop-in” events or complete the online questionnaire.

    The consultation period has already started and the first “drop-in” event occurs at the George Abbot School on Saturday 23 September from 10 am to 2 pm.

    • John Lomas Reply

      September 21, 2023 at 4:47 pm

      I would encourage mobility scooter and wheelchair users to attend. Wouldn’t it be interesting if any of the venues are not accessible?

  7. Alex Baxter Reply

    September 21, 2023 at 5:30 pm

    Reading this letter its clear the author’s objection to the scheme is not the scheme itself but more to do with the fact that it may inconvenience drivers. He talks about congestion, about HGV’s going in opposite directions, the speed at which people go round roundabouts, opposition to pedestrian crossings, removal of parking bays and so on.

    The whole point of schemes like this is to get people out of their cars.

    I do agree that cycle lanes should be wide enough. This should be done even at the expense of road space for cars or said HGVs.

    • Angela Wells Reply

      September 22, 2023 at 9:06 pm

      How are HGVs supposed to get off the road? While it’s great to have more cyclists, many still need to drive for various reasons and they need to be able to do so safely. Slowing the traffic will cause more pollution for us pedestrians and cars and HGVs not being able to pass safely will also put cyclists at risk.

      It’s a terrible design.

  8. Wayne Smith Reply

    September 21, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    Niels Laub mentions in his detailed letter (for which I thank him) the proposal for a “cycle street” on the section of London Road from the High School to the junction with York Road. Having viewed the CGI video fly through of SCC’s proposal I think it’s worth pointing out that on the video it shows 20mph speed limits painted on the road in that section. I didn’t see that mentioned anywhere in the text.

    The video also suggests that elsewhere along the route the vehicle lanes are barely wide enough to accomodate a double decker bus, as many have long suggested.

    The SCC engagement website can be found here:

  9. Bethan Moore Reply

    September 22, 2023 at 9:56 am

    This letter raises some important points. Having cyclists cross traffic outside the high school does not seem ideal to me. And I really hope that mobility scooter and wheelchair user needs have been fully thought through.

    However the writer assumes that car use will not change. Local rush hour trips will be much easier to do by bike, for those who are able. And personally speaking, a pleasant cycle without the terror of close passing traffic is always preferable to being frustrated in a car in traffic jam. I would also be delighted if fewer HGVs decided to use this particular route.

    I welcome the cycle route proposals. It’s sorely needed to get our children more active while being safe.

  10. Liz Critchfield Reply

    September 22, 2023 at 2:55 pm

    Oh dear, another “let’s get all the cars off the road” demand from Alec Baxter.

    Please can we get rid of the notion that London Road is just a link from Burpham to Guildford. The majority of cars are travelling to and from places outside the area, some certainly from locations miles away.

    Get rid of the HGVs and other commercial vehicles? Where does he propose they go? And what about emergency vehicles, frequent users of this stretch of road to access the A3? What about the people who can’t cycle for whatever reason?

    This scheme is a disgrace and will fail all road users.

    • Keith Reeves Reply

      September 22, 2023 at 7:30 pm

      Oh dear, another “I object to someone suggesting that we use our cars less” comment.

      Ms Critchfield’s statement regarding journey origins and destinations is presented by him as a fact. Perhaps it’s correct, but without evidence we don’t know.

      I’ve never really understood the endlessly repeated old chestnut either that the case for cycle infrastructure is somehow diminished because not everyone is capable of cycling.

      Calling the scheme a disgrace does seem to be resorting to unnecessary hyperbole.

      • jim allen Reply

        October 22, 2023 at 2:03 pm

        If Mr Reeves would like to contact me via the Burpham Neighbourhood Forum – I’m happy to provide all details of this scheme, the drawings actual change in road widths and traffic numbers origins and the historical evidence back to 1979. This offer applies to any who believe this is the answer to the regular 30 car tail backs on New Inn Lane present since c1932. or The forced reduction of car use by deliberately reducing car capacity on the London road is the way forward: See Terry Newman’s piece

        Note in the SCC survey at the half way point there are more multiple concerns about the scheme than support for the scheme, this again is documented.

  11. James Masterman Reply

    October 21, 2023 at 4:04 pm

    In response to Ms Critchfield, over 40 per cent of central Guildford’s traffic comes from within a distance of 4km, a 15 minute cycle ride. It is these people who will be attracted to cycle with a safe, segregated off-road cycle lane.

    Attract enough of them, and you’ll be able to zip faster than you ever have before, into Guildford by car.

    Guildford is grid locked twice a day, day in, day out, as is the London Road. A new approach, driven by vision, is now needed. Please support the Active Travel proposals for the London Road.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *