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'Stop Surrey becoming a cycle track' eclipsed by Boardman supported bike-friendly argument...

A petition in favour of cycling in Surrey has overtaken one opposing the use of the county’s roads for organised rides and recreational cycling.

As of this morning, Keith McRae’s petition calling on Surrey County Council to better communicate with its residents so as to protect the future of cycling events in the county had edged ahead of Ian Huggins’ petition demanding the council ‘Stop Surrey being turned into a cycle track’.

The pro-cycling petition passed the 3,000 signature mark sometime this morning to hit 3,074 while the anti petition was at 3,014.

The visibility of the pro-cycling petition was undoubtedly helped at the weekend by the news that Chris Boardman CBE had signed it.

Boardman is a passionate and articulate advocate for everyday cycling and in his reasons for signing the petition he says “Those complaining should consider what increasing car usage will make their communities like to live in, as apposed to increasing use of bicycles and ask themselves “which place would I prefer my children to grow up in...”

The petition that started all this was posted in late July by local businessman Ian Huggins, just before the RideLondon 100 sportive.

Mr Huggins’ primary concern appeared 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 noise.

He said: “Last year we were confined to barracks for two days and now I have been told I can’t leave my home unless I leave before 5am or after 7pm.

“No one has consulted me, no one has asked if I mind.”

Mr Huggins then took his complaint to the local Federation of Small Businesses, which asked its members for their thoughts.

Pauline Hedges, secretary of the Surrey Policy Team for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said, “We have had more people complaining than people saying it was a good thing but that is quite normal – people complain more than they do respond positively.’

Keith McRae - a road.cc reader known hereabouts as GKam84 - posted his petition in mid-August. It acknowledges that Surrey County Council appear to have not enough to communicate with residents well in advance of the event, and call on them to improve.

Mr McRae then details the errors and misconceptions in Mr Huggins’ original petition explaining that the RideLondon 100 was not a race, but a challenge event; that all roads are suitable for cycling except motorways; and that a full road closure is the only way to safely run such a large event.

Surrey County Council has called a public meeting on the future development of cycling in the county, to be held on November 28 at County Hall in Kingston Upon Thames.

If Ms Hedges is right that more people complain than praise, then the success of Keith McRae’s petition is good evidence for Surrey County Council to do more for cycling, not less.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

29 comments

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Goldfever4 [221 posts] 2 years ago
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I imagine there is quite a lot that the organisers of sportives in the area can do to prevent annual reliance on the same roads, and it's fair enough for residents to stand up and express that they don't think they've had enough consultation, but his petition is an over-reaction and too NIMBYish to get the right conversations happening.

That's why I've signed the pro-sportives petition, personally.

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stuie78 [3 posts] 2 years ago
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Can't we all just get along? This whole debate (see the stuff about the New Forest) is boring now. If there was a right answer we'd surely have found it by now? Tolerance people. Both sides of the argument seem to be so entrenched now that a compromise will never happen. I hope I'm wrong.

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madhouse [52 posts] 2 years ago
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as Stuie says, why can't we just get along? I guess it's all part of the longer-term future of this debate.

I've signed the petition as it's asking Surrey council to get everyone involved in the decision process and that's gotta be a good thing to increase the understanding of everyone's arguments.

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LondonCalling [149 posts] 2 years ago
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Can we all get along? We can. They can't...!  3

Remember who are the ones getting all upset at the sole sight of a bicycle..!

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HowardR [27 posts] 2 years ago
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Did I read that right? Mr Huggins' - who runs a clay pigeon shoot - complaining about the noise?

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Topcat [33 posts] 2 years ago
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I find it ridiculous that Keith McRae turns his inconvinience at the organisation of this event into a an anti-cycling campaign rather than looking to request changes to the organisation so that the area can benefit more.

What could have been a positive input to allow what is an amazing event benefit more people has simply become a NIMBY over-reaction that I think has been given too much attention.

I'm sure there are many areas of the country that would love to hold an event like the ride 100. I'm also sure much of Surrey would be grateful to host such an event. However something of this size is always going to have problems which can only be resolved through better organisation. I'm sure no one in the cycling fraternity would oppose changes that would lessen the impact of the event on local people.

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JonD [403 posts] 2 years ago
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Topcat wrote:

I find it ridiculous that Keith McRae turns his inconvinience at the organisation of this event into a an anti-cycling campaign rather than looking to request changes to the organisation so that the area can benefit more.

FWIW, that's the wrong individual..

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JonD [403 posts] 2 years ago
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(bloody double-posts..)

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mikem22 [21 posts] 2 years ago
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So unless these objectors frame their objection in the right way then we will automatically ignore them and take the opposite stance by default?

I generally agree with your post but I think we have to be a bit more grown up than that in our response.. no matter how much of a loony an objector appears to be. We are always better to engage the residents and businesses in the areas that have to support several events during the year.

Also we should remember that there are loonies on our side too, I have seen some pretty embarrassing behaviour on events and I can understand how some locals in popular riding areas who have to put up with eedjits week in week out get hot under the collar.

We can see that there is a problem with a small minority of locals in popular cycling areas but we also need to be able to see that there is a growing problem with the behaviour of a small number of cyclists in the Sportive and Social Cycling scene in the UK.

So, in short, when organising events, lets engage with the majority of the representatives of communities with whom we can have the right conversation and let them deal with bringing the more objectionable among them on board. But lets also try to deal with the small number of our own breed who are not helping things run smoothly.

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Topcat [33 posts] 2 years ago
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JonD wrote:
Topcat wrote:

I find it ridiculous that Keith McRae turns his inconvinience at the organisation of this event into a an anti-cycling campaign rather than looking to request changes to the organisation so that the area can benefit more.

FWIW, that's the wrong individual..

I've realised this shortly after posting but cannot edit it? How can I do this? I'm very sorry to Mr. McRae for putting his name in the wrong place in my response.

As for my response, I am simply trying to say that I think in a situation like this compromise is always the way forwards. That is from both sides.

Edit - could one of the admins please correct the wrong name on my original post as I cannot find a way to do it and do not wish to cause any offence to Keith McRae

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Leviathan [1980 posts] 2 years ago
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Freespirit1 still hanging around here lately? Any comment?

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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You won't cause me any offence Topcat, don't worry about it.

Once your original post has been quoted by someone, you cannot go back and edit it. It saves people saying things, getting quoted, then changing what they said.

I didn't think this petition would really take off, it was started as an "up yours" to Mr Huggins. But now it has, I've had media outlets contacting me.

I think I am also going to attend the public meeting in Surrey on 28th Nov  16

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jasecd [394 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam - I hope you've got plenty of answers for the inevitable "You're not from round here so your opinions irrelevant" complaints.

FWIW I applaud what you're doing.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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Goldfever4 wrote:

I imagine there is quite a lot that the organisers of sportives in the area can do to prevent annual reliance on the same roads....

You've hit the nail on the head, but organisers won't do anything because there's too much money in it. When you actually get sportives cris-crossing each other on the same day, you just know that things are out of control.

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mattsccm [330 posts] 2 years ago
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Bloody hell.
Common sense being advocated.
Some one above is right , you do get mostly complaints but that is valid. If you don't speak , you don't count.
There is validity in the idea of a non local may not have local interests at hear or to put it bluntly, it non of your business. Locals do have more say that outsiders of the government for that matter. Anywhere. I would suggest that if the petitions were both from locals only the pro cycling one might be a touch smaller.
What's CB doing poking his nose in? (nowt against him ,just that this is not his business.)I would rather he used his name to promote cycle awareness or something.
I do think that we need to put our house in order as well. Sportives have generally grown to beyond the point where modern road conditions can always cope. Some Riders attitudes are less friendly than they should be and they are too self righteous.
The moral high ground is where we need to be and we are not quite there.
But we will be.

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freespirit1 [226 posts] 2 years ago
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bikeboy

Yes I am. I shall be at the BBC Radio Surrey event on Wednesday, I shall also be at the Surrey County Council one on 28th November feel free to introduce yourself as I will to you if you are there.

If you have a look at the petitions, the people in favour are mainly from outside Surrey, in the anti petition most are Surrey Council taxpayers.

It does not take away that there was sod all consultation with the residents no matter what the County Council and the organisers say, and that is the one thing that cannot be undone.

In all the exchanges so far I take note of what Pwmedcraft and Jova have had to say as they are Surrey residents.

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freespirit1 [226 posts] 2 years ago
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As Neil 753 has pointed out that happens. On the Tour Of Britain day I encountered 6 on my way to a family wedding in Sussex, I did actually think you would all have been spectating!!

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freespirit1 [226 posts] 2 years ago
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Also looking forward to meeting Gkam too. Perhaps we could all go for beer afterwards, as I'll be on public transport!!

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sm [382 posts] 2 years ago
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freespirit1 wrote:

If you have a look at the petitions, the people in favour are mainly from outside Surrey, in the anti petition most are Surrey Council taxpayers. It does not take away that there was sod all consultation with the residents no matter what the County Council and the organisers say, and that is the one thing that cannot be undone.

I enjoyed Ride London - it was fantastic. Stopping it would be a bad thing for London and Surrey. I know three people who have since started cycling as a result of the event. However, I agree with freespirit - locals need to be consulted and hopefully we can find a way of planning an event on closed roads that doesn't pen residents into their homes all day. Fine for some but I heard stories of hospital workers having to stay in hotels overnight to get to work. I'm sure a better balance can be found.

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freespirit1 [226 posts] 2 years ago
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sm

Thank you for that. I have had people from this forum telling me that I made it up.

Not holding my breath for an apology from them though.

Regards

Freespirit1

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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mattsccm wrote:

There is validity in the idea of a non local may not have local interests at hear or to put it bluntly, it non of your business. Locals do have more say that outsiders of the government for that matter. Anywhere. I would suggest that if the petitions were both from locals only the pro cycling one might be a touch smaller.
What's CB doing poking his nose in? (nowt against him ,just that this is not his business.)I would rather he used his name to promote cycle awareness or something.

I think, if you look at the start of the petition, before it started getting attention, nearly all the signatures were from Surrey, that got it up to over 1500.

Chris Boardman got involved because he supports cycling in any form.

Alot of the replies I get are positive, tomorrow I am taking 4 out of 9 phone calls I've been asked for, to do interviews for media.

But I am also getting the "local shop for local people" vibe. We if you aren't happy, get off your arse and sort it yourselves, I'll quite happily stand back and let you sort it....but I don't see anyone stepping up  102

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pwmedcraft [27 posts] 2 years ago
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I remember seeing people from Manchester and Birmingham signing the original anti-cycling petition so it's not so cut and dried.

If Huggins's petition had just been about lack of consultation and inconvenience on the day I could have understood and sympathised, and would not have signed Gkam's response (but if that were the case I doubt he would have made one). However, it turned into a typically exaggerated and generalised anti-cycling rant, and claimed to speak for all Surrey residents when I know plenty who enjoyed the atmosphere and peace and quiet in their towns and villages on the day. (And yes, freespirit1, I also know people in the same towns and villages who were put out and did not enjoy it!)

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Common sense prevails : )

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JonD [403 posts] 2 years ago
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Please excuse the tome, much of this I've been mulling over for a few days..

@Matt - part way down the article is a link to
http://road.cc/content/news/96866-chris-boardman-obe-signs-roadcc-users-...

and at the top of that:
" and another user, gedward, approached Boardman to ask for his support."

Plus he has much right to as anyone else, and it may raise the profile higher than it would have been otherwise.

Gkam84 wrote:

But I am also getting the "local shop for local people" vibe. We if you aren't happy, get off your arse and sort it yourselves, I'll quite happily stand back and let you sort it....but I don't see anyone stepping up  102

You're assuming people see the need to 'get off their arse' - I don't take offence at someone from outside starting the petition, but you've added some specifics that you really should have kept more general.
(I should add - I live in Walton-On-Thames where the outward and return legs are very close, only a handful of miles from Box Hill and the Surrey Hills, so ride there not infrequently, moreso of late via a small cycle club at my gym)

For my own part, I see Huggins as a small-minded whinging NIMBY idiot, and it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of others do too, and have pretty much ignored it - in fact, if he'd kept his petition to a simple 'can we have some consultation please' he'd probably have got way more signatures. My local 'town' forum has a small number of similar people posting crap similar to that of Huggins' and his cosignatories, it's a waste of time arguing with them - most people, on the other hand, are pretty reasonable.

One road club near me that has a more active (and publicly viewable) forum than some is the Kingston Wheelers - your petition made an appearance in september:
http://www.kingstonwheelers.co.uk/kwccforum/viewtopic.php?t=10356
- the point made by one poster down the thread is that the SCC survey is a rather more productive thing to fill out - perhaps others feel the same ?

So far I've completed the survey, lobbed it out via mail/farcebook, suggested they invite Carlton Reid to the debate panel (sounds like they may do), and I've a set of points regarding their strategy documents which I'll send them in due course.
You should also realise that some councillors and MPs may take *more* notice of personal submissions, rather than simply filling in a petition - the former takes some thought and consideration, the latter just filling a few boxes.

Whilst, on balance, your petition is a probably a good thing, it is somewhat 'offence by proxy'. In particular, in paragraphs 3-5 I feel you've made some assumptions and naive statements that, as someone who doesn't even live *vaguely* near, you're not in any position to do and that somewhat blunts your point, sadly. Similarly the title leaves a little to be desired.

I'm no particular fan of SCC - I certainly didn't vote for any of them, or indeed, any of my local councillors- but in fairness, from what I can see they've done a reasonable job considering the rather different requirement of a mass sportive and a road race - it's probably near impossible to reopen then reclose roads between the two. OTOH, for the Tour of Britain, rolling roads closures were pretty short - the centre of Epsom was closed to traffic for less that 20 mins, and it's only Guildford which has the centre closed all day (likewise last year) since it was the finish (and the cobbled high st is closed to traffic anyway)

Some points to consider:

a) "The residents should be informed and brought into discussion's ..."

We elect councillors to take decisions on our behalf. We don't expect them to make decisions via referendum. There *are* consultations on local issues - typically planning - but even then they are held on several dates/locations even for a fairly local issue. If you tried to run focus groups, I suspect getting a fair and representative response would actually require one heck of a lot of them, and cost quite a bit of money to do, and it's possible that the council may not recoup that. Would you hold focus groups for every 1/4 mile section of the route ? And what would you do it a small area en-masse voted against - call the whole thing off ?

There's always going to be someone that'll be put out - freespirit on various other threads makes a lot of fuss, but his only significant complaint - and it's very specific - relates to getting a carer to a relative, because that relative lives in a small area where all access is only onto the sportive route. For most people, parking off-route would enable them to get around to some degree.

Compare this with road closures for assorted maintenance and infrastructure works - this is typically more disruptive at a local level, and for longer - no consultation is held for that !

In some respects, the Nov consultation is probably the right time - if it had been held beforehand, there would have been less information wrt what worked, and what didn't, from the public or otherwise. Being too pussy-footed in advance and nothing happens..

There *was* information locally about road closures - there's been info in the local press, council flyers, and via local business group mailings, at least for Elmbridge which covers a chunk of the N Surrey section. I can't say exactly when road closure warning signs went out, but they *were* there. Since I was aware of it anyway it didn't really figure very highly as far as I was concerned. Whether it could have been done better I don't know - I'll be curious to hear the proceeds of the two meetings.
(It's a pity the broadcast closing date was last week, turns out I could probably have made it after all..)

There is also the issue of getting the notice period correct - too early and people will forget anyway. There's other local stuff I'll post at the end, but for example, there's the 'Surrey Matters' flyer sent out by SCC - this is the online version, I can't confirm at was in print but I'd expect it was the same (and this is only what I can find online)
march:
http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/news/surrey-matters/featured-articles/march-2...!
early july:
http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/news/surrey-matters/featured-articles/july-20...

b) "The comments in Mr Huggins petition worry me slightly that the Council do not keep their communities informed, especially in how their taxes are spent. Everyone who pay's tax in the UK, pays for road maintenance all over the country, the people of Surrey seem to think that their tax is solely spend on the roads of their county..."

FFS...
Firstly, expenditure *is* detailed, to some degree, on the documentation we get with our council tax statement/payment info, as mentioned here:
http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/your-council/council-tax-and-finance/council-tax

On the same page is this link:
http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/567616/Council-Ta...

Spot the lorry, car, and cycle where it says "25M investment in roads" ?

As for 'people of Surrey seem to think'... Surrey isn't some sort of ill-educated, banjo-twanging bloody backwater !  102
That is little better than many of idiotic generalisations made about cyclists, by Huggins or otherwise, and applies as much or little as anywhere else in the UK. Possibly less in Surrey since there's actually quite a lot of cyclists round here, or commuting into London, in case anyone hasn't noticed.
Furthermore, if people don't understand that taxation in the UK is not hypothecated, it's certainly *not* the place of a council tax statement to correct them !
(I'm pretty sure it's not my imagination - not helped moving over to a recumbent about 5 yrs ago- but in general driver awareness/care around cyclists does appear to have got better in the run up to, and since, the Olympics. But inevitably, there will still be some ass-hats.)

Remaining assorted local info - this is only what I can still find online..

Assorted local press info:
aug 2012:
http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/ridelondon-include-surrey-roa...
sept 2012:
http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/cycling-routes-needed-olympic...
feb 2012:
http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/10214132.World_s_biggest_cycling...
feb 2012
http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/10217039.World_s_best_cyclists_r...
july 5th:
http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/10530277.TFL_warn_motorists_to__...

There's some local business comms that go out, including:
May:
http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/Elmbridge%20Borough%20Council/Organisational...
June:
http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/Elmbridge%20Borough%20Council/Organisational...

and a final reminder early july, to residents/businesses close to the route:
http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/news/issues-monitor/issues-monitor-july-2013/...

Again - I can't speak for anyone else, but some of the above may explain why Huggins is being ignored - or indeed, why some people may not feel awfully happy with your petition, despite the good intent.

cheers,
Jon

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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freespirit1 wrote:

sm

Thank you for that. I have had people from this forum telling me that I made it up.

Not holding my breath for an apology from them though.

Regards

Freespirit1

That'd be me. A person, not people. Again another little flaw in your 'woe is me' story telling.

I could be as far out as a lighthouse, but having seen and come across scores of wind up merchants and attention seekers on the net, your posts ring all the bells so I have no reason to doubt my judgement on this one to be honest.

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Simon E [2722 posts] 2 years ago
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freespirit1 wrote:

If you have a look at the petitions, the people in favour are mainly from outside Surrey, in the anti petition most are Surrey Council taxpayers.

Should Surrey Council only allow local residents to ride, or even voice an opinion? Nearly 16,000 people took part in the RideLondon. Many of them will have travelled some distance to do so.

mattsccm wrote:

I do think that we need to put our house in order as well. Sportives have generally grown to beyond the point where modern road conditions can always cope. Some Riders attitudes are less friendly than they should be and they are too self righteous.

Modern road conditions aren't really the problem, it's the people who object to mass participation cycling events that cause the most issues. But is clogging the roads with cars OK? Nobody's started a petition objecting to that.

I am sure that there is a minority of participants that one may feel "lets the side down", just as there are in all walks of life. There's not much you or I can do about that. Cyclists are not some kind of collective that all agrees to follow the same rules or norms, it's not "our" house and I resent the implication that I am somehow responsible for someone else's actions, whether it's RLJing or dropping gel wrappers.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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Hey guys

I have had a little scan through and I'm pretty sure that the poster Freespirit 1 is a troll.

I saw something similar on a Cycling Weekly comment section a few weeks ago. It's a wind up by an anti cycling nut. The basic modus is to make out they are a simply a concerned driver or have a real complaint. They don't really. What they do is exaggerate a niggle they have.

I mean what sort of person do you think rocks up on a Road CC or Cycling Weekly comment page and complains about cyclists, cycling etc. That'd most likely be a Troll

Best not to feed the trolls.

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JonD [403 posts] 2 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

Hey guys

I have had a little scan through and I'm pretty sure that the poster Freespirit 1 is a troll.
.

Borderline troll, at any rate - he seriously overeggs his complaint. The only one of any significance (as I've mentioned above) is getting a carer to an in-law - gawd-knows what happens when we get snow ?!?! - and his other complaint about inconvenience is a 10 miles detour each way via motorcycle - I know roughly the route he goes and that's 10-15 mins each way on a sunday (and he travels in at 6-7am), and the roads might have been open on the return anyway You'd get worse on a bad day on the A3.

We have councillors to take decisions - we don't expect to make allowances for every bloody whinging git otherwise nothing would happen, whether road repairs, infrastructure improvements etc or anything else that is ever a possible inconvenience

freespirit1 wrote:

If you have a look at the petitions, the people in favour are mainly from outside Surrey, in the anti petition most are Surrey Council taxpayers.

Sorry, that's self-serving bo**ocks.
Those against will inevitably those directly inconvenienced - it's self-selecting.
Those in favour may be more widespread, but as Simon's written, Surrey residents don't have sole use of the roads, any more than car drivers do.

In any case, from what I can see from all the comments on Gkam's petition, the vast majority are from London or the immediate areas in/near to the Surrey Hills !

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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BTW I live in Surrey and pay my council tax. I also pay Vehicle Excise Duty on 3 cars (Family car, wife's car and son's old banger) and still cycle to work.

There is no particular anti-cycling feeling in Surrey. There's as many people pro as anti. There are a lot of cyclists because Surrey is a nice place to cycle. Almost all those bikes are owned by Surrey residents. So if there are a a lot of bikes on the roads then that's a lot of Surrey residents using the roads they pay for and not either damaging them or polluting the country air.

And guess what there are more cyclists and fewer road deaths. 18 People killed last year down again.

I have been a keen cyclist since I joined a cycling club in 1970 and actually before that. I have lived in Surrey now for 30 years. Long enough to be a local. Cycling is definitely increasing massively in Surrey and that's because a lot of people in Surrey like cycling. The anti-petition represents a small minority of small minded people. Unfortunately Surrey has a few of those as well. Otherwise it's a very nice place to live .....and cycle