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Pedestrian and Cycle Paths Improved But Still the ‘Poor Relation’ to Roads

Published on: 29 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 29 Sep, 2020

By Hugh Coakley

Cycle and pedestrian routes are improving in Guildford but the town’s infrastructure is still “on the lower side of average,” according to one campaigner.

Residents, students and others walking or cycling to the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Surrey Research Park and Surrey Sports Park can now enjoy a smoother, safer journey after the latest phase of the Sustainable Movement Corridor (SMC), funded by M3 Local Enterprise Partnership and Guildford Borough Council (GBC), was completed.

But cycle paths in Guildford are still the poor relations to roads and lag behind other cities nationally when it comes to infrastructure say cycle charities.

Students’ Union President – Lizzie Rodulson, Cllr Caroline Reeves and UNiS Director of Estates, Stephen Wells on the improved Sustainable Movement Corridor.

Outgoing GBC leader, Caroline Reeves, (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) said: “These improvements mean these pathways are now safer and welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists and we hope to see more people using them.”

Cabinet Member for Transport at Surrey County Council (SCC), Matt Furniss (Con, Shalford), added: “I welcome these improvements and hope they encourage residents to try using cleaner and greener ways of getting around Guildford.”

The Guildford Dragon went on a cycle ride from Burpham to the town centre with Tom Page from the charity, Cycling UK, which promotes cycling nationally. Tom, who works in the charity’s headquarters in Guildford, is well placed to see the good and bad bits of cycle paths in the town.

Tom Page said he had been clipped by a car on this narrow cycle lane in Burpham.

He said: “Guildford is on the lower side of average, nationally, in providing for cycling. There are good bits, like the SMC, but cycle paths don’t link together, end abruptly and are poorly maintained.

“It’s often safer to use the road or the pavement rather than the dedicated cycle path.”

A good section of shared cycle and pedestrian path on the A25 past Spectrum but this is the exception.

This view is supported by a report commissioned by GBC, Guildford Cycle Route Assessment (May 2020). It concludes that: “While there are sections of existing cycling infrastructure that are acceptable, these do not form a coherent network. Even these do not form consistent routes, and the current level of quality is not suitable for less confident cyclists, let alone encouraging people who do not currently cycle to start.”

Val Wye and Julia Warner from Woking said there are not enough cycle paths and they just disappear at junctions.

Dr Nigel Burke of the Guildford Bike User Group (G-BUG), said: “There is much to be positive about. We are increasingly consulted and listened to by SCC and GBC and there are several projects in the pipeline.

“In the wider scheme of things, cycling still tends to be the ‘poor relation’ in comparison to motor traffic.”

“Cyclists are still an afterthought in road design” said Tom Page “and Stoke Road Junction is an example where bikes and pedestrians are just discouraged.”

Lead Councillor of Major Projects, John Rigg, (R4GV, Holy Trinity), said: “Improving the experiences our residents have when they cycle or walk through our borough is a top priority.

Cllr John Rigg

“Following the Guildford Cycle Route Assessments report, we also encouraged residents to comment on our Guildford Borough Local Plan: Issues, Options and Preferred Options consultation. The consultation included a proposed comprehensive network in Guildford as a shared ambition with Surrey County Council and other partners.

“We are currently waiting for the government’s decision on whether to provide SCC with an Emergency Active Travel Fund. Their bid includes a £1.65m Guildford to Burpham Cycle Route and an upgrade of the shared cycle and pedestrian route between Shalford and Guildford.”

It was reported in June 2020 that SCC received only 50% of the money they applied for from the government’s £225m Emergency Active Travel fund because their bid was judged to be not ambitious enough. The fund was set up to help councils create pop-up bike lanes and other measures.

“Cyclists are still an afterthought in road design. We end with congestion, pollution and we lose the use of the streets; it becomes not liveable.” said Tom Page of Cycle UK.

An SCC spokesman said: “We have introduced new cycle routes along the A25, by the leisure centre, also at Ladymead, and it is proposed to link these through to Walnut Tree Close. We are also considering more routes for the future. Much of these works have been funded through Local Enterprise Partnerships.

“As funding becomes available for more road and cycle improvements, we always work to link with established cycle routes so we can establish a comprehensive network.”

The SMC shows that safe and accessible paths are well used said Tom Page of Cycling UK.

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Responses to Pedestrian and Cycle Paths Improved But Still the ‘Poor Relation’ to Roads

  1. Colin Checkley Reply

    September 29, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    I am a cyclist. The newest cycle paths are okay but the ones on the road are atrocities with potholes everywhere. We either have to stop or cycle into one. The worst part is some cyclist will swerve to avoid them, putting themselves in danger of getting hit by passing traffic.

    But do the council worry about this? I think not.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    September 29, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    The Burpham cycle route? What about the one already in existence the combined cycle and footpath from Sainsbury’s at Clay Lane to Jacobs Well? How about someone keep the vegetation back and sorting out the entrance to Burpham Court Farm, which has no dropped kerbs and the second entrance is on a bend. This has now been opened up meaning there are two sets of dropped kerbs missing and vegetation obstructs 50% of the path.

    There is absolutely no point in reducing road space for vehicles if the space for cycling is not kept accessible on a monthly basis. What is the point in the expenditure? It would also be good if cyclists would keep off the road when cycle paths are provided. ‘Just because you can’ does not mean it is right, or safe, to cycle in front of traffic causing even more frustration to other road users.

  3. Mike Murphy Reply

    September 29, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    As a cyclist as well as a car driver, it’s great to read that GBC is doing something to make cycling safer and easier. I think that as long as the cycle routes are in addition to the road network this is brilliant.

    The worry I have is that GBC has a very expensive parking scheme and if the cycling routes take away and impede the road network then fewer people will drive to the town and more and more shops will close and our ghost town of Guildford will become even more ghostly.

  4. Peter Coleman Reply

    September 30, 2020 at 9:13 am

    A really good and informative article.

    I fully agree that we are not doing enough to encourage cycling to all parts of the town centre.

    The cycle provisions on the Portsmouth Road, A281 and the one-way system are especially poor and illustrate how much still needs to be done.

    The new corridor to the sports park and university are exemplary and need to be extended to all areas of the town.

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    September 30, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Roads in Guildford are generally narrow and provision of safe separate cycle lanes is almost impossible unless radical road infrastructures are built to free up space in congested areas.

    How can the town centre be made more pedestrian and cycle-friendly? How can traffic be kept out of the town centre? How can the use of buses be made more attractive and the bus station relocated to a more convenient place for both visitors and commuters?

    I strongly believe the answers are there but the councils would have to be bold and imaginative.

    Over the years I have mentioned some of these ideas from time to time here in the Guildford Dragon. I have now updated and collated these ideas and written to the councils for them to consider and explore these. The document with sketches is 25 A4 pages long. It can be found in

  6. David Williams Reply

    September 30, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Cycling around the outskirts of Guildford is not too bad. The problem is cycling into the town centre. There are no cycle lanes on some routes (for example on the Epsom Road from Aldersey Road to the town centre) so cyclists have to share the road with vehicles.

  7. Dave Middleton Reply

    October 1, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Speaking as a cyclist, driver and motorcyclist, myself, I think that the local authorities are generally making a good effort on behalf of cyclists. We live in a town that has roads and pavements that are old and narrow and could not realistically be altered to accommodate separated cycle lanes, or even in many cases, shared-use pavements.

    Yes, more can be done, but equally, cyclists can help themselves by riding sensibly, considerately and by paying proper attention to the road and other road users.

    I cringe sometimes at the dangerous situations I see my fellow cyclists put themselves in, and the foolish and sometimes downright inconsiderate behaviour of my fellow cyclists towards other road users and pedestrians and indeed, other cyclists.

  8. S Firth Reply

    November 8, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Start linking the towns first.

    Guildford to Woking must be the priority

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