Fringe Box



Letter: We Can Cycle Further Than We Think

Published on: 10 Sep, 2018
Updated on: 10 Sep, 2018

From Sue Reeve

In response to: GBC Committee to Hear Examples of ‘Modal Shift’ Solutions

I would like to pick up the comment about ”distances too far to cycle for the average man”.

What distances are we talking about here. I used to work about 4 miles from my home and occasionally cycled. But it was hard work and I thought more time consuming. Having retired, I have taken up cycling as a regular activity and am ashamed of my previous lack of effort.

It takes only a modest time to cycle four miles and given the same situation again I would definitely cycle daily, even for longer journeys. You would probably find the elapsed journey time is similar and certainly more predictable than using a car. I am sure the same attitude was true for my children who caught a bus to school, some three miles distant.

If we could get rid of these shorter journeys, congestion would surely be reduced hugely and particularly by removing individual school runs. We all notice how much freer flowing routes are during school holidays. We would all love to see the improvement in air quality that a reduction in traffic would bring.

The problems here are twofold. One is a question of mindset and surely we could do much to overcome this – with the added benefit of much needed health improvement, both physical and mental. The other problem needs more attention. Safe cycling and walking routes, away from sometimes very inconsiderate motorists (I know some cyclists can be inconsiderate too).

Cycle lanes along the main carriageways, while better than nothing, can also be intimidating as in my experience they can be blocked by parked vehicles or sometimes used by drivers as part of the main carriageways and as a cyclist you can be uncomfortably close to fast moving vehicles. We need off highway or properly separated routes that can be shared by cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Another consideration if for businesses to consider secure on site storage for bikes and the possible provision of showering facilities, although for short journeys of five miles or less this latter facility wouldn’t be essential.

I look forward to seeing suggestions and initiatives from GBC.

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Responses to Letter: We Can Cycle Further Than We Think

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    September 10, 2018 at 9:58 am

    When I served on the planning committee some years ago now.

    Parking restrictions on new office building were restricted and provision had to be made for employees who cycled to work.

    Showers had also to be provided for the benefit of those brave enough to face the traffic problems in the town.

  2. Mike Aaronson Reply

    September 10, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Well said, Sue Reeve; encouraging people to cycle will deliver huge benefits, and Guildford – despite some no doubt well-intended efforts in the past – is not a cycle-friendly place.

    However, given the spatial constraints, providing more cycleways can only be a small part of the answer. The real challenge is to educate all road users to respect each others’ right to use the highway. I have just been on holiday in Spain, where signs on the main road remind drivers of their obligation to allow cyclists 1.5 metres of space when overtaking, and where bad behaviour by either party would be considered bizarre.

    The same is true across most of the Continent. If we could only get to the same level of sophistication here. We might even come to see that Europe has a lot to teach us! (⌗ What on earth is Brexit supposed to achieve?)

    • John Perkins Reply

      September 11, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Warsaw is so dangerous many cyclists use the footpaths, illegally. I don’t recall noticing bikes in Eastern Europe or the Balkans, probably for the same reason. The cities most successful in promoting cycling all provide dedicated ways, education is much more difficult.

      Europe is a wonderful place with many diverse cultures. The EU, on the other hand, is an organisation of bland bureaucrats. Pretending that the two are the same thing is not sophisticated.

  3. Simon Schultz Reply

    September 10, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    I agree with Sue. It does seem to me that there is local enthusiasm, but that it will require “generational change”, (ie retirements) at SCC before anything substantial can happen.

    I am just back from a 1,000km ride in Western Australia. In all of my two weeks there, including on a number of busy roads, I received less “close passes” than I do in a single commute to the local train station in the UK. Even the Toyota Hiluxes (essentially, white van equivalents) were giving me a very wide gap. Apparently, they have a new close passing law, and have advertised it heavily.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    September 11, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    But in France on recommended cycle ways there are notices, not only advising drivers to allow enough space for the cyclists but telling the cyclists to ride single file, even on quiet backroads.

    Personally, I can’t and won’t ride anywhere anymore, too unfit for Guildford’s hills and too frightened of the main roads.

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