A public meeting is to take place asking Surrey residents for their views as to how the county can become a cycling destination. The council has set out a number of objectives for boosting cycling - but the organiser of a petition against closed road cycling events in the county is also urging its supporters to attend.
On November 28 at County Hall in Kingston Upon Thames, interested parties will be given the chance to speak out about the benefits of cycling and the impact of the increased number of riders arriving in the county each week to train, race and ride.
The meeting follows a consultation document drawn up by the council, entitled Surrey Transport Plan Cycling Strategy 2014 - 2026.
It sets out the county’s aspirations to build on the reputation it gained as hosts of the 2012 London Olympic Games road race and subsequent events including the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive in August this year.
We welcome this element of the Olympic legacy but a true Olympic legacy would see every child in Surrey learning to ride a bike, and being able to cycle safely to school. It would mean that many more of our residents cycle for transport and leisure, reducing congestion and reliance on cars and reaping the considerable health and economic benefits this brings. And it would mean that people without access to a car can travel safely and affordably around the county.
But it also notes that the number of cyclists being seriously injured on Surrey’s roads rose from 49 in 2008 to 122 in 2012 - and that cyclists are being put off by the risks.
It adds: “Government figures show that nationally the number of cycle casualties far outstrips the growth in cycling.”
A large part of the proposed strategy revolves around reducing vehicular traffic and encouraging cycling for short journeys.
The consultation document notes:
“Many areas of Surrey experience heavy traffic levels which can cause delays and reduce productivity. Encouraging modal shift from car to bicycle can help relieve pressure on the highways network, particularly if focused on key routes e.g. to schools, town centres and major employment centres.”
One individual who began a petition protesting against road closures for cycle races and sportives, has encouraged his followers to attend.
Stop Surrey Being Turned Into a Cycle Track has received more than 2,600 signatories.
Ian Huggins wrote to his supporters urging them to attend the meeting to make their case, in an email obtained by road.cc:
We can have a much bigger impact if we can encourage those of us who have been directly affected by the road closures to attend. I would like to see local business owners, carers, nurses and other professionals as well as all of you who work at weekends.
It will not help our cause to rant and rave, as much as some of us would like to, it will only stir up the cycling lobby who will undoubtedly be in attendance in large numbers.
That perceived problem is however offset in other ways.
The council’s consultation document notes that: “The Olympic programme brought in £800m to the local economy, with the Olympic cycle races alone bringing £44m in local benefit due to increased visitors to the area and local people spending in high streets whilst events are taking place.
"In addition, new businesses have set up on the popular routes that these events take.
"The National Trust at Box Hill have seen a increase in weekend trade due to cyclists using their tea shop as a stop off point.
”The meeting will consult on Surrey County Council’s main objectives for cycling, which are as follows:
• Surrey County Council and its partners will work together to deliver improvements for cycling
• Surrey County Council and the Surrey boroughs and districts will work together to develop local cycling plans that reflect local priorities and issues
• We will improve infrastructure and the public realm to make cycling a safe, attractive and convenient mode of transport for people of all ages and levels of confidence
• We will encourage participation in cycling as an inclusive, healthy and affordable means of travel through the provision of information, promotional activities and practical support
• We will improve cycling safety and encourage respect between different road users through targeted campaigns and initiatives, working with Surrey Police and other partners
• We will develop our cycle training offer to ensure that appropriate cycle training is available to all who want it at an affordable price
• We will promote and encourage cycling as a healthy leisure pursuit, working with Public Health and the Clinical Commissioning Groups
• We will explore opportunities to increase access to appropriate cycling provision amongst those residents that would benefit most from increased physical activity
• We will encourage the provision of off road cycle routes and activities which aid transport and contribute to health and wellbeing
• We will work with partners and local communities to put in place measures to manage the impacts of the increase in cycling on communities and Surrey’s countryside
• We will support sporting events which inspire participation and bring economic benefit while minimising impact on affected communities
• We will develop Surrey’s cycle tourism offer and support local businesses to reap the benefits.
To register your views, click here and complete the survey.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.