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Pushing Pedals: ‘Nothing Compares to the Simple Pleasure of a Bike Ride’

Published on: 6 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 11 Apr, 2021

This is the first of what is intended to be a regular column on local cycling. The vision of Guildford Bicycle User Group (G-BUG) is to make cycling in the borough and surrounding communities safer, more convenient and enjoyable. Members share a passion for making the borough more liveable through increased cycling.

On the borough’s roads these days, cyclists ride a wheel of fortune or misfortune, praised by environmentalists and pilloried by motorists.

But with climate change and the pandemic, there is growing public support for sustainable transport, including walking and cycling. Yet that support can become polarised as measures such as pop-up cycle lanes are implemented, although officially backed by both borough and county councils.

Last year, the pandemic projected cycling into the spotlight. Roads emptied of cars, we were advised not to use public transport and people anxious for exercise got their bikes out of the shed or bought at the local cycle shop.

College link+, the Woodbridge Road crossing

The government provided an emergency active travel fund. The pop-up cycle lanes appeared, and in some cases (as in Reigate) almost as quickly disappeared following “bikelash”.

Both councils implemented the long-planned cycling infrastructure programme, part of the town centre transport package (TCTP). In Guildford, the sustainable movement corridor (SMC) from the hospital to the university and on to the station was significantly improved.

The SMC near the university

The link from the station to Guildford College has nearly been completed, with new crossings for Woodbridge Road and Stoke Road, a widened, shared-use pavement outside the college and a 20mph zone proposed.

Work is about to start on the much-debated replacement of Walnut Bridge with a wider, more cycle-friendly crossing, though not as friendly as G-BUG would have liked.

Perhaps most controversially, the Walnut Tree Close trial, providing cyclists with a much safer corridor to/from the town centre, will last until mid-February. Cyclists should try this and report on its suitability via our website.

Early indications seem to show it works well and should be supported. If we don’t use it, we may lose it.

GBC’s commissioned independent assessment of how cycling in Guildford could be made safer and more attractive was published last May.

The specialist consultancies Transport Initiatives and Urban Movement rode every road and path in the town, using recognised “bikeability” standards to classify all of them.

Their analysis shows Guildford divided into areas inaccessible by bike due to busy roads and major barriers such as the gyratory, the A3 and railway lines.

They concluded “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 present level of quality is not suitable for less confident cyclists, let alone encouraging people who do not currently cycle to start.”

Recommendations included improving the gyratory, more and better crossings, signing and cycle parking, but the major items were for a “joined-up” cycle network, and low traffic neighbourhoods where through-traffic is reduced.

Change costs money, although dedicated government funding is available. Already, the county council has an allocation with two projects for Guildford, on London Road and the Dagley Lane greenway to Shalford.

These and future measures will probably be controversial: the challenge will be to find common ground supported by the “silent majority.”

You can follow G-BUG on Facebook or join here.

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test 5 Responses to Pushing Pedals: ‘Nothing Compares to the Simple Pleasure of a Bike Ride’

  1. Julia Shaw Reply

    February 6, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading more of this regular column.

  2. Richard Clarke Reply

    February 7, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    Glad to see that The Dragon is going to have regular news of our local cycling plans and network improvements.

    Keep up the good work G-BUG.

  3. Brett Dalli Reply

    February 7, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    I am glad to see it as well.

    The Dragon giving a platform to G-BUG helps voice sustainable transport.

  4. Ciaran Doran Reply

    February 8, 2021 at 11:46 am

    G-BUG are doing great work steadily pressing the case for helping people (those who want to) get out of their cars and walk or cycle and it’s great that you’re going to do a regular feature here.

    Keep up the good work G-BUG team and one day many more will enjoy the pleasures of cycling around Guildford and the beautiful surrounding areas.

  5. Howard Smith Reply

    February 9, 2021 at 9:38 am

    Really looking forward to reading this. As a recent convert to regular cycling (often with two kids on board) I will be an avid reader. Thanks.

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