A petition calling on Surrey County Council (SCC) to ban cycling on a dual carriageway between Leatherhead and Dorking has been rejected. It was said that such a move ‘would set an unjustified precedent’ and would not support the council’s cycling strategy.
Leatherhead driving instructor Martin Davies came in for a good deal of criticism for starting the petition, but subsequently claimed that it had been deliberately provocative as a means of drumming up support. He said that his actual intention was to try and persuade the council to improve the adjacent cycle path.
The opening paragraph of the petition read: “Please make it illegal for cyclists to use the A24 Dual Carriageway between Givons Grove roundabout, Leatherhead and Ashcombe Road, Dorking. It is very dangerous for all road users, especially the cyclists. There is a very good cycle lane off to both side of this road that many cyclists already use therefore it is clearly fit for purpose.”
The petition attracted 306 signatures and was discussed on November 9. Davies was given three minutes to speak.
Speaking afterwards, he told the Surrey Mirror that he was disappointed that the shared use path would not be improved.
"Obviously I am a bit disappointed that none of the ideas are going to be taken any further in any real way but I am not disappointed that the 'banning' part was rejected as I never expected that in the first place.
"I used my presentation to suggest that they improve the cycle footpath on the road by creating a cycle road with a separate pedestrian path instead of the current shared pathway.
"But as you know it was rejected. They cited budgetary concerns, which is understandable, but I was disappointed that there were no plans to apply for any funding in the future. I was also a little sad about the way I was met with a wall of apathy for the whole thing and to be told it comes down to money. But then I suppose in the end it always does."
John Furey, cabinet member for highways at SCC, said that a recent Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) bid for cycle track maintenance had been unsuccessful. The bid had included comprehensive resurfacing and, in some parts, widening, of the whole length of the cycle track.
"There are more requests for maintenance and cycle facility improvements than there are resources available and these have to be prioritised, and balanced, with the requests from other road users," he said.
Commenting on the idea of a cycling ban, he said:
"Surrey County Council have the powers to prohibit the use of a road by cyclists, but not a duty to do so. The Prohibition of Cyclists Traffic Orders are made under the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984, and this would require extensive consultation.
"This type of proposal would also require the support of the police, as they would be responsible for enforcing any traffic order of this type.
"This proposal would set an unjustified precedent that would also create an additional budget pressure for the cost of consultation, advertising and potentially enacting a traffic order, signs and enforcement.
"It is acknowledged that this section of the A24 formed part of the Olympic Cycle Route, in 2012, and the use of the road has brought cycling tourism to the area.
"Any proposal to ban cycling from the A24 would not support the Surrey County Council's cycling strategy, in particular that "we will support cycling as healthy, inclusive and affordable."