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Letter: The London Road Plans Are 100 per cent Better Than What We Have

Published on: 10 Jan, 2024
Updated on: 10 Jan, 2024

From: Andy Friend-Smith

In response to a comment on: My Review of the London Road Traffic Modelling Report

I completely agree with James Masterman’s comment. Although there are pockets of acceptable infrastructure, I find, speaking as a regular Guildford cyclist, driver, and walker, Guildford is generally a hostile environment for anyone walking, wheeling, or cycling.

The more we can encourage people to transition to active travel modes by building better and more appealing infrastructure, the fewer cars there will be on the road – thereby actually speeding up journey times for those who need (or want) to use their cars.

If good active travel infrastructure is built, people will use it (and conversely if bad infrastructure is built, people won’t use it). London is an excellent example where cycles now outnumber cars at peak times. That would have been unfathomable in 1970s London.

Of course, Guildford is not London, however a relatively small number of people walking, cycling or wheeling instead of using cars can make a lot of difference to alleviate traffic congestion – and can, in turn, give planners the confidence to go further with building more active travel infrastructure. Plan and prioritise for cars, and you get more cars.

The London Road scheme alone is, of course, not the panacea for Guildford’s traffic problems, but it’s an important start. It’s always possible to find perceived “faults” with a design such as this, and there are many other places in Guildford equally worthy of such a scheme. However it is 100 per cent better than what is there today, in my view.

In terms of the estimated delays to car journeys post-implementation of the scheme, I may be wrong, but I doubt many residents would bemoan a (worst-case) 1-2 minute forecast delay in car journey time (at peak time) along London Road if it meant their children could cross their local main road safely on foot or cycle in relative safety on their way to school. And of course, journey times by walking, cycling or wheeling will be quicker than today because of the better infrastructure.

I hope that our generation can leave our children and grandchildren the legacy of transport infrastructure that at least gives them a choice of how to get around our beautiful town safely rather than being entirely dependent on our cars.

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Responses to Letter: The London Road Plans Are 100 per cent Better Than What We Have

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 10, 2024 at 9:22 am

    Reducing road capacity from 1,200 vph (vehicles per hour) to 800 when 1,100vph is current usage while the Local Plan requirement is for 47,500 additional souls being introduced into the borough all with transport requirements seems an inverted logic.

    I live on the London Guildford cycle route. Not seen a cyclist for five days. I guess there is zero demand during the winter months for cycling facilities for exercise and enjoyment but not transport to work. Plenty of cars though.

    As for the use of the emotional charged word ‘hostile’ to describe road conditions is incorrect. “Busy, overloaded transport system” perhaps, as it’s a major through road, but I have never been attacked in Burpham, it’s a very friendly environment!

    We need cycle lanes off the main access road to Guildford yes! But not on the main access road for unknown number people per day travelling unknown distances to unknown locations because no one has actually asked the majority of road users where they come from or go to. A problem similar to the Clay lane link road which was dropped because it was going in the wrong direction!

  2. Roy Darkin Reply

    January 10, 2024 at 11:10 am

    The London road already has cycle lanes which are perfectly adequate. It’s a reasonable compromise between cars and cycles. The changes proposed are too onerous for car drivers with delays likely to be much more than one or two minutes.

    The Dutch style roundabout is dangerous for all and the no right turn into York Road was just bonkers. I live along London Road and dread this scheme. I very much hope that it’s cancelled and the cycle lanes repainted instead.

    • Tom Deakin Reply

      January 11, 2024 at 10:43 am

      Does Roy Darkin actually cycle? Just asking, seeing as he judges the facilities “perfectly adequate”.

    • Helen Skinner Reply

      January 15, 2024 at 11:06 am

      Not sure anyone who actually cycles would consider London Road ‘perfectly adequate.’ The painted white lines are commonly referred to as ‘Murder Strips’ by the cycling community as they encourage drivers to pass too close (the highway code 1.5m is still a minimum passing distance even with the white line between you), they regularly just disappear and the multiple pinch points encourage the ‘Must Get In Front’ brigade to overtake and push forward when there isn’t space/time. It’s one of the roads I actively avoid in Guildford when cycling and I’m a confident cyclist, I wonder how less confident cyclists or children feel when trying to get about by bike.

  3. Bethan Moore Reply

    January 10, 2024 at 1:39 pm

    As another regular driver, cyclist and walker, I agree with Andy Friend-Smith.

    As a family we try make all trips under 20 mins by bike or foot (occasionally bus, but that’s rarely a good option unfortunately). Many other parents tell me I am brave and they would like to do the same, but they don’t feel safe or confident.

    I understand. There are currently few places you can reach in Guildford with young children by bike (including schools and town centre) unless you’ve set up your life for it. The new scheme would add the town centre, some schools and the spectrum to that list at least.

    My current journey time to Aldi by bike is 20 mins, as I avoid London Road. With the new scheme it would be more like 12 mins. That’s the other traffic modelling that isn’t in the report.

    A zebra crossing was recently built outside Boxgrove School after children were run over. Children have been run over on London Road. I never cease to be amazed that people are against safer public areas for the most vulnerable because it costs them a few minutes of their day.

    To those opposing this I ask: did they teach your children or grandchildren to ride a bike? If so, what for?

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      January 11, 2024 at 7:39 pm

      How many of those children run over on London Road were responsible for their own accidents? I have lived close to George Abbot School for over 30 years and twice I have had to swerve in my car to miss a child who just stepped out into the road. On both occasions there were talking to their friends, paying no attention to the road.

      While ideally there should be no accidents, in the real world there will always be a few. From the SCC’c own website on the Active Travel Scheme in 10 years between 2012 – 2022 there were 41 accidents on the A3100 through Burpham – excluding the two roundabouts at either end – of which there were only 7 serious injuries.

      • Bethan Moore Reply

        January 12, 2024 at 8:47 pm

        Paul Robinson did well to avoid the kids, that must have given him (and them) quite a scare. He is right to say that teenagers and children will sometimes have poor judgement, that is why they are among the most vulnerable people on the roads and not simply because they are smaller and weaker than an adult.

        But because some accidents are hard to prevent it does not mean that all are. With a crossing in the right place which was the best way to get across road, perhaps those children wouldn’t have stepped out in front of Mr Robinson.

        I’m all for fewer near misses too.

      • Helen Skinner Reply

        January 15, 2024 at 11:25 am

        “How many of those children run over on London Road were responsible for their own accidents?”
        Wow! The law of the road is clear, if you are driving through an area with pedestrians you as the driver are responsible for not hitting them. That’s why there is the hazard perception test as part of our national requirement – you should drive expecting pedestrians to step off, dogs to break free etc. The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) encourages you to drive country roads like there’s a broken car changing the wheel round every blind corner. If you are driving 2 tonnes of metal – you are responsible for not hitting the sub 100KG bag of bones and flesh, if that means you have to slow down in residential areas then I’m sorry but that’s the price of not killing somebody’s kid.
        I find it constantly amazing that people can be so anti reducing the speed of cars in built up areas, it adds so little to the journey time and can reduce deaths substantially. I guess the only bright side is that actually most people are for reducing the speed limits, in fact nearly 50% are for 20mph being the new 30mph anfd nearly 90% think roads outside schools should be 20mph –

  4. Helen Skinner Reply

    January 10, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    I find it really interesting to see Jim Allen justify the need for a cycle lane based on the number of cyclists he’s seen in the last five days. If we only built bridges where people were swimming across rivers we’d probably have a lot fewer bridges in this country too.

    The cycle lane proposals that are being put in across the country are not about catering to the people who already cycle in what are often hostile conditions (and yes I am going to use that word because while it’s not every day that I get driven at, it’s often enough that people less confident on their bikes are discouraged from cycling).

    The proposals are about making walking and cycling a viable option for the majority. A point that was well made in the original piece but which seems to be ignored by those against the work.

    So let’s build this route – yes, on a main arterial into Guildford. Let’s show that active travel is important, is welcome, nay even encouraged. Let’s stop relegating it to circuitous back routes, out of sight and out of mind.

    If Guildford is to solve its terrible traffic problems the only solution is to get people out of their cars and the only way we can do that is to make it safe and inviting to use other methods when appropriate.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      January 10, 2024 at 9:48 pm

      I think Ms Skinner misses my point completely if an existing cycle route is not used in winter it is not being used for travel to work or school! It is used for exercise and pleasure cycling. Cycling and walking options already exits and are rarely used. As an ex cyclist and now limping walker, rarely driving now after 50 plus years on the road. I see no existential need to reduce road capacity for long distance drivers from the M25 while at best 10% (predicted world increase) in cycling Locally. Say from 90 to 100 or 270 to 300 of 15,000 road users!

      For we are discussing all road users travelling through Burpham including from the M25 not just a minor segment of locals Active travel is only important to a minority, the majority are too busy surviving!

      • Helen Skinner Reply

        March 21, 2024 at 11:45 am

        Apologies – I have only just seen Jim Allen’s response.

        There are routes that I cycle in summer that are not safe in the snow, ice, wet or the dark. Most of the reason is driver behaviour or lack of maintenance – a snow filled or ungritted cycle path is lethal and some drivers turn into idiots during heavy rain and pass more closely or drive faster.

        There are days when I’ve turned a corner and been blinded by low sun, I immediately pull over onto the path and walk as I don’t want to be like the horse rider in Normandy who was driven into at speed because the driver couldn’t see her as the sun was in her eyes!

        So many of these problems are solved by good segregated infrastructure. So yes – fewer people will cycle in winter months, it’s colder and wetter and that does put some people off, but it’s not actually as many as you think and I for one value the outside time at a time of year when we often end up stuffily stuck inside with all the windows closed.

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      January 11, 2024 at 7:24 pm

      What about hostile cyclists? A study in London found 60% of cyclist don’t stop for people on pedestrian crossing. The local concern being the proposed floating bus stops.

      • Helen Skinner Reply

        January 12, 2024 at 3:48 pm

        Quite literally a “whataboutism” comment. Ok, I’ll bite. The police have often said they focus their efforts where the greatest risk of harm is found. They save more lives by stopping poorly behaved drivers than they do by stopping poorly behaved cyclists. So yes, of course I think cyclists should obey the rules of the road, cycling considerately and I do so myself.

        Do I think that this statistic is a good reason to can the whole proposal – no, I think it’s a reason to work out how we can reduce tribalism between those in cars, on bikes and on foot, something I said in the response to the consulatation.

        • Jim Allen Reply

          January 13, 2024 at 3:07 pm

          I think the major problem with all the arguments are the perceived dangers and perceived needs of a perceived group.

          Nothing is cured by ltn20 (every reader should read the document) a set in stone set of requirements to supply for these perceived needs. Which does not work if any wall to wall width is less than 14m! (Many locations throughout the country)

          The document and the psychological behind it is fatally flawed by its demands.

          If rational understanding of all actual road users was applied the year of arguments on the Dragon would not exist.

          Which ever decision is made please every one do not let it destroy ‘community’ for this devisive project decision in late January will probably be ‘overtaken by events’

      • Sam Neatrour Reply

        January 12, 2024 at 3:48 pm

        We could do with lots more pedestrian crossings in Guildford, too, there are hardly any. It’s terribly dangerous, crossing most of our arterial roads with young children. My daughter was inches from death crossing Boxgrove roundabout a few months ago, the car driver didn’t even stop.

        The faster a car is going the harder is to judge its speed, And when you are hit the consequences are quite different. the difference between being hit at 20 versus 30 miles an hour is simply life and death/serious injury.

  5. Sam Neatrour Reply

    January 10, 2024 at 2:40 pm

    All very sensibly comments from Andy Friend-Smith and based on fact and observation unlike the current national government administration, which seems to be basing transport policy on conspiracy theories.

  6. Julia Shaw Reply

    January 10, 2024 at 7:11 pm

    Some great points by Andy-Friend Smith. As a mum with two young children I wouldn’t let them cycle along London Road at the moment so I welcome this scheme with open arms. I’m relieved that because of this scheme, when they’re older and crossing the road by themselves they’ll be able to do this more safely. I look forward to the scheme being built.

  7. John Lomas Reply

    January 13, 2024 at 8:24 pm

    It has been most interesting reading the different views about the proposals over the last six months or so.

    I have noticed that a number of people who have stated that they would be using bikes or even walk if the changes take place whereas at the moment they are amongst the car users, which they wouldn’t be post change.

    I wonder how many of them would actually stick to those statements if they get the changes they want.

  8. Terence Patrick Newman Reply

    January 15, 2024 at 10:23 am

    Mr Lomas asks a perceptive question about the rate of switch from motoring to cycling along the proposed Burpham to Guildford Active Travel Scheme. This kind of projection is actually addressed by the Department for Transport in its guidance document, Active Mode Appraisal Toolkit (AMAT).

    This guide is “for assessing the overall benefits and costs of proposed walking and cycling interventions, ranging from capital investments to behaviour change programmes.” It is a highly technical calculation device, which one has to presume that the decision-makers at Surrey County Council will be fully cognisant of, when reaching their conclusion about proceeding.

    As with any similar predictions, such as Traffic Modelling assessments, it is only a “best guess” for the future, but DfT offer the following guidance, in answering Mr Lomas’ musing: “A diversion factor of 11 per cent between cyclists and cars means that if a new cycle intervention results in 100 new cycle trips there would be expected to reduce the number of car trips by 11.” SCC’s published projection for the number of additional daily cycle journeys is 148, compared to tens of thousands of vehicle trips.

  9. Guildford Dragon NEWS Reply

    January 15, 2024 at 12:02 pm

    […] In response to: The London Road Plans Are 100 per cent Better Than What We Have […]

  10. M Callan Reply

    January 17, 2024 at 7:14 am

    Many of the above comments seem to be in favour of a minority of road users who actually are a minority. Perhaps they would be a lot safer if they took responsibility for their own actions instead of automatically blaming others?

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