Surrey ‘cycling town’ bans bikes from town centre

More news about Surrey County Council’s decision making…

At the end of last month, the BBC ran a news report saying one of Surrey’s “cycling towns” had banned bikes from the town centre.

Cyclists in one of the UK’s designated “cycling towns” are facing a daytime ban from the town centre.

Surrey county councillors have voted to scrap shared use of parts of the centre of Woking by cyclists and pedestrians during the day.

They cited safety concerns, although the scheme has been operating without major incident for two years.

But Councillor Will Forster says the decision undermines Woking’s bid to become more cycle friendly.

The town received funding to improve its cycling facilities in 2008 and became one of 11 UK areas to be designated a “cycling town”.

Councillors made a trial system of shared routes in parts of the town centre permanent in September 2010 after there were no “incidents” reported by pedestrians or cyclists.

However, following a lengthy consultation period, council officers recommended restricting cyclists’ use of part of the town-centre route, banning bikes from Town Square between 1030 and 1600 BST.

When councillors considered the recommendation, they decided to extend the restrictions to nearby Gloucester Walk and most of Commercial Way during the daytime.Mr Forster was one of those who voted against the decision, accusing his colleagues of being misguided and out of touch.

He said: “There [will be] no safe cycling route through the town centre in peak times.”

A spokesman for Surrey County Council said the decision – which is subject to confirmation of the necessary traffic orders – would protect shoppers while still allowing cyclists access during commuter peak times.

Chief executive of Surrey Disabled People’s Partnership Clive Wood described the decision as a partial victory.

He said: “The committee members have recognised the legitimate concerns vulnerable pedestrians have about sharing a pedestrianised area with cyclists.”

Meanwhile, Surrey County Council is seeking views on Surrey’s green transport projects.

A six-week public consultation on plans for £16m worth of sustainable transport projects in Surrey has opened.

Ideas include a park and ride bus service in Guildford, as well as improved bus and cycle routes in Woking, Redhill and Reigate.

Surrey County Council submitted a funding bid to government and said it hoped to receive between £5m and £16m when a final decision is made in June.

The online consultation on the proposals is open until 14 May.

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One Response to Surrey ‘cycling town’ bans bikes from town centre

  1. Paul M says:

    My understanding is that this change of heart followed heavy pressure from the Royal National Institute for the Blind. I am sure they have legitimate concerns about the safety of visually impaired people in pedestrian or shared-use environments where cyclists also congregate. However, they do seem to adopt an aggressive approach to campaigning on such matters – and have a sizeable team of staff whose sole role is to lobby local authorities on matters such as this – and the sense is that they are not really considering the wider social implications of a measure for visually imparied people that they are pressing very hard. Those other issues could include health (cycling as a way of getting people to travel actively and get exercise) social inclusion (facilitiating cycling for people who can’t afford cars) children, etc.

    I think another town, possibly Cirencester, is a target of another visual impairment charity, the Macular Disease Society, on a similar case.

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