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Letter: Why Should Children Be Forced into Being Driven Because Cycling is not Safe?

Published on: 11 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 11 Feb, 2023

From Cameron Allan

In response to Pushing Pedals: London Road Cycle Lanes – We Must Find a Way

Cycle infrastructure is as much as it is about solving congestion as it is about freedom and equality.

Why should someone who doesn’t have access to a car not be able to travel around Guildford? Why should children be forced into being driven somewhere because it is not safe to cycle?

Children and parents with multiple children will be used to the common occurrence of children not being able to attend different activities or having to arrange a lift with a friend due to the fact the car can only be in one place at one time.

With safe cycle infrastructure, children would be able to get themselves to where they need to go independently.

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Responses to Letter: Why Should Children Be Forced into Being Driven Because Cycling is not Safe?

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    February 11, 2023 at 11:46 am

    The gold standard for safe cycling is Holland. How do they do it? They have purpose-built segregated cycle lanes.

    Why do so many cyclists get killed in London? Because cyclists are forced to share roads with juggernaut lorries.

    Only recently has the HighWay Code been amended to protect the safety of non-motorised travel on roads.

    I guess that everyone agrees that provision for cyclists in Guildford should be improved.

    What is the problem? It is that SCC has gone for the cheapest solution – putting cycle lanes on existing roads. In most cases, they do not even widen the road.

    Most often these cycle lanes are just a sticking plaster or fig-leaf solution. It costs SCC next to nothing to paint a few white lines onto an existing road. Equally a few white lines do nothing to protect cyclists.

    When is SCC going to “get real” about cycling.

    Its concept of “modal shift” is intellectually dishonest. It does not address the realities of the problem. It is a pretence. No wonder the public regards “modal shift” with disdain.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    February 11, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    If it’s cycling distance within the town, they can always walk!

    That’s what we are told “Active Travel” is all about. Or is this a realisation that Active Travel is a failed concept where travel is concerned

  3. S Callanan Reply

    February 11, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    I do appreciate that cycling is very much a preferred option for some people, but the government’s stated Active Travel policy which started Surrey County Council on the London Road, Burpham consultation failure states:

    “Active Travel England is responsible for making walking, wheeling and cycling the preferred choice for everyone to get around. Our objective is for 50 per cent of trips in England’s towns and cities to be walked, wheeled or cycled by 2030.”

    If children can’t cycle they can still walk or wheel, so there are other alternatives to car travel.

  4. John Lomas Reply

    February 11, 2023 at 2:34 pm

    Surely the recent changes to the Highway Code have merely explained a little clearer what has been the case for years, The hierarchy of road users has been recognized by police, the courts and I might say, as after 44 years, a retired driving instructor, my former professional colleagues.

  5. S Firth Reply

    February 12, 2023 at 11:57 pm

    Our family was never confident to let the kids cycle the 3.8 miles to school, so we drove. It was too far to walk really. I so wished they could have, it would have saved years of pain and frustration stuck in traffic let alone the awkward work conflicts that you have to juggle especially the afternoon pickup.

    The kids have always had a bike that fitted and run well but when it came to it, they would rather walk for well over an hour, than have a 12-15 min cycle into town or school. They basically did not feel safe. Safety is the main reason my wife will never cycle and safety is also the reason my neighbours do not cycle too. Yet we live in a quiet area and I am happy to cycle.

    We so need real segregated cycle routes from the villages into town and into secondary schools. We should not have to put up white lines painted onto the road which not only gets parked all over but can falsely gives the motorists an excuse to drive too close.
    Nor should the cycles be on the pavement.

  6. Christian Holmes Reply

    February 13, 2023 at 8:04 pm

    Some very valid points made above. But I would also add that it isn’t entirely necessary to have segregated lanes to afford safe cycling.

    I have cycled in the Netherlands quite a lot and not all cycle lanes are segregated, as much like in the UK space is often at a premium.

    However in such cases the road use is demarcated slightly differently. Instead of the road being divided into two, it has a central lane of just over one car width. So effectively the road is divided into three. The default road position is on the right as normal. If a car approaches a bike (also on the right) it has to move to occupy the central lane for the overtake before moving back to the right. This ensures a safe passing distance.

    The crux of course is what if a car is also coming the other way? Well, normal rules apply and one has to give way. The argument of course is that our roads are very congested for this to initially work effectively. But unless we can get people out of cars this will always be the case (and worsening). People won’t get out of cars until there is a safe and viable way to travel by other means. This works in the Netherlands because car use is significantly less, and cycling uptake significantly more.

    My frustration is that there seems an unquenchable thirst for increasing the population of Guildford without addressing the fundamental issue of travel first.

    I have experience of towns in the Netherlands with higher population densities than Guildford with far less car dependency and resulting congestion. Simply because alternative forms of transport have been made viable and attractive.

    We don’t need to re-invent the wheel, we just need to copy the design (or elements of it) that is already in the public domain.

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