Fringe Box



Letter: What Churchill Might Have Called: “A Terminological Inexactitude”

Published on: 19 Feb, 2024
Updated on: 19 Feb, 2024

From: Terry Newman

Chair of the London Road Action Group (LRAG)

See also: Dragon Interview: Authors of the ‘Alternative’ London Road Survey and The ‘Alternative’ Survey was Meaningless

There has been a recent, last minute, spate of claims and counter claims, between the cycling enthusiasts and the originators of an alternative survey, about the forthcoming decision from Surrey County Council, on the London Road Active Travel scheme.

Part of the argument seems to involve who holds the most support of public opinion.  Based on an open letter from G-BUG, and quoted in The Dragon, there is a claim that “Local support for the scheme, following the engagement process, is clearly significant and overwhelming.”

I, personally, can’t confirm or deny that claim, because, although I am a member of the Stakeholder Reference Group (STRG), information given recently to the group was on a confidential basis.  Of course, the authors may have a closer relationship with Surrey County Council than I do, and have not been similarly given any latitude to act with discretion.

On the other hand, the originators of the London Road Active Travel Survey, have made their results public on their website, and these results seem to totally contradict the above claim, showing a large majority opposed to the plan.

Unless I misunderstood the SCC officer’s response at the recent STRG briefing, and as reported in LRAG’s most recent newsletter, these results could not be accepted as they have not been “independently verified”.  I have no idea what level of verification would be necessary, but since the personal details (and IP addresses) sought from respondents were identical to those sought by the SCC survey, I would have thought that verification was a simple task.

All of which rather creates a situation similar to that encountered in a court of law – whose evidence is the most credible?

At the beginning of January, I wrote that the spirit of Lewis Carroll was living on in Surrey County Council, when it seemed that their use of loose language was rife.  The statement made to the public, in the announcement of the start of the public engagement phase for the Burpham to Guildford Active Travel scheme, that the road will remain the same width as it is currently seemed not clear, straightforward or accurate to many people. (The letter can still be downloaded from their website).

Despite many queries from several sources, SCC sustained, and even amplified, explanations that the “road” width would remain unaffected.

Eventually, SCC answered the question, posed by LRAG at the beginning of November 2023, about what was meant by the term “road”, as no formal definition in any of the legal and guidance documents appeared to have one.

This was the reply: “Our statement was addressed to a wide and varied audience and we used the word ‘road’ because we were addressing a wide audience and we thought it was the more appropriate word to use. Technically, the more accurate term is ‘carriageway’ and not road. By this, we mean carriageway as defined in The Highway Code 1980 and LTN1/20.”

The Highway Code does not offer a definition of “carriageway”.  It is more likely that the reference above should be to The Highways Act 1980, which remains valid today, and is what the Cycle Infrastructure Design LTN 1/20 alludes to.

So, for “road” read “carriageway”, and the definitions indicate that “carriageway” includes cycle lanes, though not cycle tracks.  The former refers to the painted lines within the “carriageway”, whereas the latter has to be separated from the “carriageway” by a physical barrier.  A more detailed explanation and illustration may be found on LRAG’s website

Unless space is only to be taken from footways (pavements) for cycle tracks (not the case in the Active Travel design drawings), then it has to be the “carriageway” that loses, and so must be reduced in width.  Using the imprecise word “road” was clearly intended to persuade the public that a status quo would exist, presumably for the purpose of gaining positive support for the London Road scheme.

One has to wonder whether this tactic had been “independently verified”, or whether it had any effect on people answering the SCC survey?

Share This Post

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 *