Surrey launches Drive Smart campaign as cyclist casualties rise dramatically

County has become popular with leisure cyclists and sportive organisers

by Sarah Barth   August 25, 2013  

Box Hill, Surrey by lostajy.jpg

Surrey County Council has launched a road sharing campaign following a sharp rise in cyclist casualties in the last 18 months.

Surrey, which has some of the busiest roads in the country, has recorded 124 incidents in 2012, compared with 50 in 2008.

In the first five months of this year there were already 57 incidents.

The new Drive Smart campaign is a partnership between Surrey Police and Surrey County Council (including Surrey Fire and Rescue Service) is a combination of driver awareness aimed at teaching drivers to adopt new safer attitudes, and a place where concerned residents can report roads they consider unsafe and ask for road safety training for children.

Drive Smart say it takes a three-pronged approach to road safety, which includes:

Education and training (of road users)
Engineering (of the highway or vehicle)
Enforcement (of road traffic law)

Surrey County Council's cabinet transport spokesman John Furey who is also the chairman of the Drive Smart board, told the BBC: "The roads are for everybody to use, but what everybody must recognise is that it is a public space, that if either party behaves badly, someone will get hurt."

Surrey has been a growing destination for cyclists in recent years, and the recent RideLondon-Surrey 100 was ridden by more than 16,000 riders and is set to grow next year. It has a contract to run for another four years.

Edmund King, president of the AA, who is both a driver and a cyclist, also said: "There are a minority of cyclists and a minority of motorists who do sometimes have a bit of a tribal mentality.

"What we need to do is break down some of those barriers because most cyclists are drivers, and many drivers indeed are cyclists."

Of course, one of the safest ways for cyclists to ride is at closed road events, but there has been major opposition in recent months to the growing number of events being held in Surrey and neighbouring counties.

Just this month, a Surrey resident launched a campaign demanding that the county council not run closed-road events such as the RideLondon 100 sportive, which, he says, turns Surrey roads into a “cycle track”.

An online petition, Stop Surrey Being Turned Into a Cycle Track, was launched by Ian Huggins, 68, from Esher four days before the August 3 RideLondon-Surrey 100. Two weeks later it has garnered 826 signatures. In 2011 the population of Surrey was estimated to be 1,135,500.

Mr Higgins’ primary concern appears to be the effect on local businesses, including his own weekend clay pigeon shooting set-up. He also complained that "lycra louts" rode the route in advance of the event, making lots of noise.

The popularity of the Surrey hills with cyclists has become a source of complaints for locals in the last couple of years. In July Councillor David Preedy told the BBC that local councils were exploring ways in which events could be regulated.

Councillor Preedy, who leads the Lib-Dem group on Mole Valley District Council, said the main problem was the “sheer number” of cyclists.

“Every weekend there are hundreds and hundreds of cyclists and then on top of that, big organised events,” he said. “The pressure on residents is just getting too much, they’re feeling imprisoned, they can’t get out.

“A lot of them, particularly in Box Hill, are older people who feel intimidated driving through large numbers of cyclists.”

9 user comments

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This seems like an excellent idea - we are launching a similar campaign in my local authority soon, like we did last year.

To share information between cyclists and drivers, and to educate BOTH groups (who as has been rightly observed are often the same people) about how they should behave both legally and sensibly on the road, is the only way forward.

Cyclists and drivers are allowed to use the roads but, just as a driver revving up and repeatedly driving down a street is antisocial and annoying, so is the behaviour of some cyclists. All road users need to get a better understanding of sharing the road safely and tolerantly.

posted by fictional wilson [8 posts]
25th August 2013 - 9:36

13 Likes

Love it but the first thing Surrey CC could do to improve safety is spend some serious money on repairing our dreadful roads. One of the richest counties in Britain with roads that would embarrass a third world country. Take a look at CTCs Fill that Hole - Surrey is bottom of the league table - more potholes by far reported and unfilled than any other local authority.

posted by Jon C C [1 posts]
25th August 2013 - 9:59

15 Likes

Nice to see some suggestions that don't involve educating or training cyclists. I agree with the second point about road surfaces. I don't need bike training - the only weaving I do is to avoid holes. Big Grin

It would be better if they just called it 'Drive Slow' though. Speed is the real issue - especially on country lanes and slower is smarter.

I've just spent a week riding tiny twisty lanes in Wales and it was much safer than I imagined it to be as drivers can only see 50 yards ahead and have to use passing places. They were being so careful they were slowing me up. The trick is to get that level of caution back on other roads. I favour no safety belts and a spike on the steering wheel in 20mph areas. Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1093 posts]
25th August 2013 - 12:03

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"...a spike on the steering wheel..."
I saw a Harley Davidson parked up in B&Q the other day [each to his own]. I couldn't quite believe one particular feature. Pride of place atop each front fork tube was a stainless-steel cone-shaped cap. These,...let's call them what they were... spikes, were raked to the rear (i.e. so they pointed at the rider's face) and just looked to be perfectly designed and positioned to do some real damage to the rider's nether regions should he be unlucky enough to T-bone a SMIDSY.
Just thinking about it made me wince. Hypnotized

I mean...why would you?

posted by Hasis [37 posts]
25th August 2013 - 14:35

11 Likes

Cycled around that area - only for a couple of days but I felt kind of lucky to be in once piece and not because of bad driving but just the sheer volume of cars and the narrow country lanes which are basically arterial for all the traffic flowing in and out of London. Just sooo soo busy.

Gotta give it to the drivers - was in rush hour traffic with both lanes busy and no stupid overtakes or hassle.

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London2Paris24: 450km, 24 hours, 5th-6th July 2014

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koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [334 posts]
25th August 2013 - 22:22

9 Likes

Why would you take the Harley to B&Q more like...(?!)

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3476 posts]
26th August 2013 - 18:35

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It's hillarious that Mr. Higgins thinks that cyclists make too much noise but will happily organise events for people to let loose with shotguns. The last time I checked you needed ear plugs or defenders to avoid going deaf when you use one.

I'm not anti-shooting or anything, just thought it seemed like a funny comment.

The idea of car drivers feeling intimidated by cyclists is also pretty laughable.

posted by Matt eaton [498 posts]
28th August 2013 - 15:21

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koko56 wrote:
Cycled around that area - only for a couple of days but I felt kind of lucky to be in once piece and not because of bad driving but just the sheer volume of cars and the narrow country lanes which are basically arterial for all the traffic flowing in and out of London. Just sooo soo busy.

Quite so. There is commuter traffic coming up through here from as far away as Brighton. Add in all the builders vans and trucks coming South to all the projects in Horsham and so on. There are at least 6 private schools in these hills with Chelsea tractors ferrying kids. Car transporters and Brick trucks coming and going to Walliswood block the whole width. These may seem like quiet lanes to Boris and his mates looking at the map but the reality is the Guildford Bypass on a single track road with passing places. Cycle lanes! Don't make me laugh.

posted by bobdelamare [19 posts]
28th August 2013 - 20:12

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What amazes me in our increasingly litigious society is how government departments 'controlling' motoring appear to benefit from different rules. Example?

You go into hospital for routine appendectomy but the surgeon is tired and saws your leg off. NHS liable and that's government so you probably sue.

You are wrongly convicted of GBH against a surgeon perhaps...and spend some time inside. Then turns out evidence was botched and CPS covered it so you sue for if all, list months inside,defemation of character etc. CPS are liable.

There are other examples. How come then when the DVLA allow a nutter to operate a car and they then kill someone that the DVLA have no culpability at all and its all tidied away under the rug by third party insurers? Guarantee if families started litigation against such transport departments and won that the PM would suddenly be interested in road safety.

I'd really welcome comments on this

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [191 posts]
10th September 2013 - 14:00

14 Likes