Help put end to bad cycle signage via survey

Whether you are an experienced cyclist or new to “active travel”, it is worth taking part in the Surrey County Council Covid-19 transport map.

Plenty of people will have found – or rediscovered – cycling in particular since Covid-19 lockdown began. Some people will have done so for pleasure and leisure, others making a firmer commitment to reach work or schools via cycling, or walking more.

Anyone who now takes a bike out for shopping, with children, their family or just to travel from A to B should consider filling in the survey. It gives people the chance not only to put dots on a map with a suggestion for improvements, but to like, support, or disagree with other suggestions.

While it is Surrey wide, it is divided into boroughs. Would you like an extra crossing near a school on a busy road? Would you like better signage? More cycle lanes? What would make cycling or walking safer?

The background is that the Government has potentially £8.5million available for “active travel” projects in Surrey. The county received £848,000 in a first round, where about £1.69m – double that – was available. But sadly, the Government decided the plans were not up to scratch to receive the full funding. Surrey County Council stumped up the rest to implement what it proposed.

Since then, the council has been working on proposals to bid for further grants in a “second tranche”. While it seems the Covid-19 transport map survey is part of that bidding process – and a public engagement exercise – the map is still available for people to comment on. This is despite the official deadline for Surrey to submit its application to Government being last Friday.

It is to be hoped, then, that Surrey’s commitment to improving pathways and walking ways is to be ongoing. Stoked – or perhaps poked – by lockdown’s active travel push, double yellow lines have been installed along the A25 in cycle lanes outside Reigate Grammar School. At last, some common sense on these “broken white line”, “advisory” lanes that were never enforced as cycle lanes! The double yellow lines means the cycle lanes there can be actually used as such, rather than as parking spaces.

Cycling into and around Redhill, it is easy to note a myriad of different signage, both on the walkway (some of it joint, some of it divided) and on the bollards. It is totally inconsistent and unhelpful if cyclists are to have a chance of even sharing the paths on an equal basis.

And cycling up to Salfords and back, there are equally baffling moments. Riding from East Surrey Hospital along Three Arch Road and turning left at the roundabout, there is a joint cycle/pathway off the road. Yet, keep going and there is ALSO a cycle lane on the road.

As I was cycling recently along the joint pedestrian/cycle pathway, I noted a Lycra-clad cyclist using this lane. There is a pinch point going up an incline and a car beeped him because he felt he couldn’t pass. So the cyclist deliberately veered into the road, holding up three cars. He is perfectly entitled to use the road if he wishes of course, but why provoke? Why not use the cycle/pathway lane? And how did this doubled up infrastructure accumulate in the first place? There doesn’t seem to have been a huge amount of planning involved.

You could cycle a long distance on a designated cycle/pathway down to Horley. Then on the way back, on the other side of the road, there is a cycle lane on the road, past the park on the approach to McDonalds. Then, suddenly, the cycle lane ends. There is no indication what cyclists should do next on the remaining 300m or so to the Three Arch Road junction.

As riders pelt down the hill in full flow, do they try to overtake the parked cars and risk being run over by rushing cars? Or should they cross the road to the joint pedestrian/walkway? If novice cyclists don’t know this area well, they face a problem, unless they spot the joint cycle/pathway over the road. What would be useful there is coloured on-road signage directing cyclists to cross. Just saying “end” should never be the end of the matter.

If cyclists then ride down Three Arch Road towards the hospital, they then meet a split cycle/pathway at the traffic light crossing before the roundabout. The pavement splits into two, one half for cycles and the other for walking. A cycle symbol is painted on the right hand side. Follow this along the national cycle path up through Three Arch Approach along the non-driving path and the split path suddenly stops.

Which side should cyclists take?

Turn around and come from the Earlswood end. While there is a white line down the middle of the path (indicating a split cycle/walkway) nothing indicates which side should be used by cyclists. These and many other little matters need sorting. There are plenty of points for residents to consider, around Reigate town centre, too.

For however long the survey is up – and whether the matter of your choosing is resolved immediately – it is worth saying what you think. It is all fresh in the council’s mind. Now we have had a few months to ride around, do comment or leave your ideas by striking while the iron (or weather) is hot.