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Letter: The Downs Link is a Muddy Mess

Published on: 4 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 4 Dec, 2021

The Downs Link path by the A281 at Shalford, looking in the direction of Bramley.

From: M Percival

In response to: Guildford Is Not Very Cycle-friendly

The Downs Link is good but the path condition is a muddy mess. It should be a breeze to commute Cranleigh to Guildford but it isn’t.

The general hostility to any change doesn’t help either, see the recent “Dagley Lane Preservation” debacle.

The A281 is a traffic mess, the town centre is choked and for most cyclists there are no real alternatives.

I agree with Howard Fisher’s letter and we need some bolder leadership at Guildford Council and Surrey County level but this will be difficult.

Guildford A3 has illegally high pollution levels, Shalford A281 is also identified and brain damage, dementia and many other neurological issues might result. Perhaps it chimes with some of the Dragon’s more regular contributors who complain about bus routes and traffic on the gyratory?

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test 8 Responses to Letter: The Downs Link is a Muddy Mess

  1. Charlotte Gray Reply

    December 5, 2021 at 6:30 am

    “The Downs Link is muddy.” Shock horror. This is the countryside, expect mud. Those who want man-made surfaces should cycle in an urban area.

    There is a tarmac cycle path from Thames Water (behind Shalford Church) into Guildford, off-road all the way, yet most cyclists choose to stay on the A281 holding up the cars and breathing in fumes. This is why I object to Dagley Lane; the cyclists probably won’t use it anyway.

    When I worked in Guildford I cycled along Dagley Lane to get there, I barely noticed any mud.

    • Bruce Wayne Reply

      December 5, 2021 at 10:22 pm

      It’s part of Route 22 national cycleway which is 80% asphalt and runs 100 miles+.

      It should be more accessible to everyone not just cyclists/wheeled users given that the section in question was previously railway, there are a couple of sections coming into Cranleigh that are boggy beyond reason.

      If we can have Newlands Corner paved all the way from the car park to the top of White Lane (in the countryside) then surely getting some boggy bits of the Downs Link scraped and drained shouldn’t be difficult.

      As for “cyclists holding up cars on the A281” Yeah, holding back all those cars in a rush to get into a gyratory traffic jam. And sorry, but being 20 metres away from the road isn’t going to save anyone from any toxic fumes in the atmosphere going into a built up, traffic-riddled area.

      The point is that the perfectly positioned route in question could be more accessible but its poor surfaces puts cyclists off commuting and staying away from the A281.

      • John Perkins Reply

        December 6, 2021 at 9:48 am

        So what matters most is not that the countryside remains natural, but that asphalt is laid down for the convenience of cyclists.

        The Irish say: “May the road rise up in front of you”. Perhaps one day the phrase will be meaningless as there will be only road. No mud, no trees only asphalt and Lycra.

        • Bruce Wayne Reply

          December 11, 2021 at 8:35 pm

          I think John Perkins missed the point. The mud should just be scraped up to make it easier for everyone, not just the cyclists.

          The route already exists and was originally created for trains. Such routes required, in the 19th century, the countryside being literally ploughed through and bridges built.

          And not all cyclists are road-going. Some love bridleways.

    • Dave Middleton Reply

      December 6, 2021 at 11:45 am

      I wonder if Charlotte Gray has cycled the tarmac path from Shalford waterworks, through Shalford Park recently? Yes, it’s tarmac, but it’s narrow, uneven and has numerous ridges running across it, caused by the surface being pushed up by tree roots.

      I’m a recreational cyclist and none of my bikes are worth over a hundred pounds, but I’m reluctant to use that route for fear of damaging my bike’s wheels (and indeed my own ‘undercarriage’). If I had more expensive bikes, where a single wheel can easily cost £200+, I certainly wouldn’t take them along there.

    • D Holland Reply

      December 7, 2021 at 6:30 pm

      Clearly, Charlotte Gray has not seen the Downs Link locally lately, nor considered the rest of the route. Through Shalford Park, it’s not been maintained and the path is covered in tree root damage, as well as being shared with dog walkers with 20-foot leads, and people walking two or more abreast with earbuds in who can’t hear a bell. This is not, in any way a sustainable transport solution.

      Beyond the sewage works at Shalford, it’s often deep in mud and water and has a flight of steps in the middle. The short-sighted, judgmental, prejudiced and anti-cycling views expressed are exactly what’s keeping Guildford a polluted, gridlocked nightmare that’s killing its residents and their children.

      Sustainable transport needs fresh thinking, not this tired “stuck record” nonsense.

  2. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 5, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Surrey County Council is the Highway Authority, not Guildford Borough Council, so GBC has to rely on SCC to deal with traffic issues including safe cycle routes except that are off-road. Widening of the A281 or a bypass is also desirable and it is partly shown in my suggestion for taking through traffic in a tunnel out of Guildford Town centre.

    The A3 is the responsibility of National Highways (NH) and the widening scheme has been shelved for the third time. I think the funding of road improvements are being reviewed due to changes in traffic patterns influenced by Covid-19. The SoS has also deferred the M25 J10 Design Consent Order for the third time.

    Technical solutions are available for the A3 widening and I have proposed these and have written to NH and GBC outlining my ideas. Reducing congestion and pollution should be the highest priority.

    Funding is the most important issue, and to this end, I have suggested a safer and environmentally less damaging option for the M25 J10, that would save possibly some £50 million compared with the option chosen by NH. The sketch showing this option is in the “suggested A3 solutions”.

    https://tinyurl.com/A3-solutions

    As for improving traffic through Guildford and providing safer cycle routes, these cannot be provided unless the network is improved and required road space is freed up. My suggestions that many TGDN readers have already seen are in

    https://tinyurl.com/traffic-and-bus-station

    Whether the councils take any notice of them remains to be seen. I would stress that my suggestions are holistic and take into account diverse aspects of the problems and provide a comprehensive treatment of the issues.

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