Baker Street – Covid 19 Active Travel Measures

Finally Action is Taken

Following the British government’s recent announcements, Surrey has been working to identify potential active travel schemes across the county.  The government has given councils the authority to introduce emergency measures during the coronavirus pandemic to support social distancing within towns and to promote alternative ways to travel such as walking and cycling.

Surrey has been working with their partners to identify potential locations where improved spaces for walkers and cyclists would help residents to get out and about as lockdown is gradually lifted. One site that has been chosen to introduce these temporary measures is Baker Street.  This site has been chosen because of the shops and businesses but with the narrow footways there is not enough space for pedestrians to circulate and maintain social distancing.

Surrey will be introducing a tactical closure by means of three planters across the road – between Springfield Meadows and the Borough Council car park.  This will remove all through traffic from Baker Street. The road will be fully accessible for pedestrians and cyclists to return and support the shops and businesses like yourselves, with the removal of through traffic and resulting reduced overall traffic levels helping to provide space.

Only cyclists will be permitted to pass through the tactical closure on the road.  Access for pedestrians will not be affected.  All other vehicles will have to use alternate routes to access

Access for residents of Parkside and Springfield Meadows will be via the Hifgh Street and access for Hillcrest residents will be via Monument Hill. Road access to the off street car park will be via Monument Hill. The closure will be signed on the approaches to each end of Baker Street.

What is Surrey hoping to achieve?

It’s vital that people are able to stay safe when cycling and walking, and to have the space they need to pass each other safely. This is particularly necessary in response to the Government’s strategic objective:

“Local authorities in areas with high levels of public transport use should take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling, both to encourage active travel and to enable social distancing during restart (social distancing in this context primarily refers to the need for people to stay two metres apart where possible when outdoors). Local authorities where public transport use is low should be considering all possible measures.  Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect

Funding

Surrey was granted £848,000 by the government to support the roll out of active travel schemes across the county, but not the full £1.69 million grant which Surrey had bid for. Surrey is therefore matching the money received from the government, so the projects can still go ahead.

Is this temporary?

These are temporary emergency active travel schemes and are intended to be for approximately three months. It is anticipated there will be additional longer term strategic active travel measures that will be prioritised and developed.

Why has there been no consultation?

These are temporary emergency active travel measures to meet the challenge of being able to stay safe when cycling and walking, and to have the space needed to pass each other safely, as we recover from the COVID 19 restrictions. This is in response to the reduced capacity on public transport and to build on the changes in travel choices that have seen a marked increase in active travel.  Throughout the development of this scheme, consultation has taken place with the publicly elected members for both Surrey County Council and Elmbridge Borough Council.  Surrey Police have also been consulted.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to consult with all affected residents and business owners about these temporary emergency active travel schemes due to the tight timescales set by the Government. However, the views of residents and business representatives are welcome and will be noted and taken into consideration.  This may lead to tweaks to the current pilot schemes as conditions settle down or issues are identified. These will help inform any changes of approach for emergency active travel measures in other locations.

What if it is not successful, will the measures be kept in place for the entire trial?

The scheme has been subject to an independent Road Safety Audit during its development, however sometimes schemes operate in practice differently to how they were designed, and safety assessed, even after the initial change has had time to settle.  These temporary measures will be continuously monitored to assess both for ongoing road safety and effectiveness at supporting cycling and walking.

Feedback from residents and businesses is vital throughout the duration of the scheme to ensure a successful outcome for Baker Street, and the surrounding community.  Comments can be by sent to Surrey via email highways@surreycc.gov.uk or by phone on 0300 200 1003.

Further Information

The Point Closure is scheduled to installed within the next 4-5 weeks. Advanced Warning Signs detailing the start date of the restrictions will be placed around Baker Street and surrounding roads to give motorists, businesses and residents warning of when the changes will start.

Up to date information on details of any works in progress, or planned to take place can be found on the Surrey County Council website here;  https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roadworks-and-maintenance/maintenance/roads/department-for-transport-capital-funding/roads-and-pavements

 

Eliminate the bad – retain the good

The coronavirus has had a significant impact on all of us and we are desperate to eradicate it. But despite all the negative impact, can we maintain the positives that we have seen?

The environment

Many cars have been idle in the driveway and people have started walking and cycling both for their daily shopping and for their daily exercise; this has a positive impact on both the health of the individual and on the climate. There are many stories of how people are enjoying the clearer skies, whilst others talk about how they enjoy hearing birdsong now that the noise from traffic and air travel has significantly reduced.

For many years Weybridge High Street has had particularly poor air quality due to traffic congestion. Last year it was selected as one of two places in Elmbridge (the other being Hampton Court) for continuous air quality monitoring and recent figures show that average levels of NO2 have fallen from previously high concentrations of up to 55 μg/m3 to approximately 24 μg/m3 by the end of April. (National policy is that nitrogen dioxide concentrations should not regularly exceed 40 μg/m3.)

Wouldn’t it be good if our renewed awareness of our environment was translated into long term action for sustainable improvements? Can we maintain the current air quality when the emergency measures start to be lifted? Should we introduce an Elmbridge low emissions zone? Can we plant more trees and hedges? Will Surrey County Council install more cycle lanes and change all buses to be electric or fuel-cell powered? Can we encourage more children to walk or cycle to school?

Surrey’s Parking Proposal – Little Change

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582On 27 June 2016 at the Surrey Elmbridge local committee it was agreed that Surrey’s proposals on parking in Weybridge would be revisited at a meeting between Weybridge Councillors for Elmbridge and Surrey’s representatives.

As preparation for the meeting, it was agreed that Weybridge residents would be invited to send their comments on Surrey’s proposals.

This meeting took place on Thursday 27 July.

Despite the voiced and accepted understanding of most of those present at the June Local Committee meeting that the July meeting would encompass more than minor amendments to the proposal, Surrey’s representatives refused to accept any changes which would have added to or significantly changed the proposals they presented in June, proposals which were returned to them by the committee for further consultation and rework.

This means that the voices of your Weybridge Councillors on Elmbridge and representations from local residents and business people were not heeded.  A slightly amended version of Surrey’s proposal WILL be put out for final consultation in Weybridge (aka endorsement) in September.  During this consultation changes may be made but only to reduce the restrictions and not to extend them.

For your information, the outcome achieved in the meeting was as follows:

Going through each map in turn (you will find the map number in the bottom right hand corner of the page).  When I say no change I mean that the Weybridge meeting Surrey produced no change from the original proposals.  They might still be changes from the current markings we have today.

Map 1.  No change. My request for Beales Lane and Grenside Road were turned down but the school hatching around the school entrance in Glencoe Road could be looked at later.2016 Parking Map1 Thames Street

 

Map 2.  My request for the inclusion of Dorchester Road which had been accepted in June, got challenged by Surrey in the meeting – however it was finally accepted on the basis that residents could indicate their wish not to be included in the CPZ during the public consultation. In Dorchester Road, Elmgrove Road and Gascoigne Road the residents’ parking is to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm).  This to apply to all bays.  A request that there should be no short-stay bays in Gascoigne Road – a cul de sac – was accepted.  My request that there should be short-stay bays in Grotto Road and residents’ parking in Glencoe Road, Mount Pleasant and Radnor Road was turned down.2016 Parking Map2 Dorchester

Map 3.  In Oakdale Road residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  No other changes.

Map 4.  In Elmgrove Road, Holstein Avenue and Oakdale Road the residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  A request that there should be no short-stay bays in Holstein Avenue – a cul de sac – was accepted.  My request for Monument Green to be included to enable a higher turnover of vehicles was turned down. No other changes.2016 Parking Map4 High Street

 

Map 5. No changes made in the meeting.

Map 6. In Minorca Road the residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  Surrey would not consider Wey Road and Round Oak Road.  No other changes.

Map 7.  My request on behalf of Limes Road residents was taken heed of to an extent. The parking restrictions will not though go into the early evening. My request for Heath Road to be a clearway to increase safety for cyclists was turned down.2016 Parking Map7 Limes

Map 8. No changes. My request for Curzon Road to have residents’ parking and for Belvedere Close, Fortescue Road and Heath Road to have some extra restrictions at residents’ request was turned down.

Map 9. No changes.

Map 10.  No changes. My request for Oatlands Drive to be designated a clearway to forestall cars now parking in Queens Road parking there was turned down.

Map 11.  My requests to make Queens Road to be at least 7m wide for cycle safety – at least during the rush hour turned dwon.

Map 12.  My request for short-stay parking outside Glass’ Offices turned down along with my request for removal of parking restrictions in Princes Road to reduce its role as a rat-run.

Map 13.  No changes.

Map 14.  My requests for the new restrictions in Pine Grove to be only placed to allow residents to exit their properties turned down.

Map 15.  A request for the extension by one car length to the restrictions at the Egerton Road and Cavendish Road junction accepted.

2016 Parking Map15 Egerton

Map 16.  A request for the restriction outside Gower Lodge, Gower Road to be placed on the other side of the road agreed.  As were extensions to the corner makings on Old Avenue.

Map 17.  No changes.

Map 18.  No changes.

Map 19.  No changes.

Map 20.  A request for the extension to the restrictions on Brooklands Road to be extended to number 41 accepted.

2016 Parking Map20 Egerton

Thames Byfleet Cycleway

Heath RoadThe Liberal Democrats along with its allies in the new coalition administration agreed in cabinet today to proceed with studies to facilitate a path/cycleway alongside the Heath from the station to Brooklands Lane.  This land is held in common and is therefore heavily protected so any proposal with have to be very sensitive to the green space.

Campaigners have been seeking such a development for over two decades and there is still more work to come.

You can check the details here.

Town Meeting on Parking

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582Following the disturbing lack of engagement of residents, businesses and other interested parties by Surrey in its review of parking in Weybridge, your local Lib Dems decided to host a consultation meeting in the Weybridge Community Centre, Churchfields Place at 8:00pm, on Thursday, 14 July.

Discussion will include off-street and on-street parking policies; safety, parking on main roads; the balance between shoppers, workers and residents; and, the most effective way to ration available spaces.  It will also discuss approach to individual streets such as Curzon Road, Grenside Road, Pine Grove Road and Wey Road.  It will be an action filled event and school drop-offs etc will also be discussed.

Surrey’s parking review for Weybridge was up for decision at the Local Committee meeting on 27 June.  Cllr Andrew Davis argued that the consultation process should involve more presentation and dialogue with local residents before a set of firm proposals was put forward. He was supported by colleagues across all parties.  This resulted in the local committee agreeing that Surrey officers should discuss and amend the proposal in direct consultation with your Weybridge councillors at the end of July.

The previous proposal are here.

 

Highway Maintenance

Pot HoleThe British government produced a new fund for pothole repair recently.  Surrey last year received a grant of £16,714,000 to maintain Surrey’s roads.  The amount for this year was cut by £1,391,000 to £15,323,000.  To this the national government has added the “extra money for potholes” of £1,033,000 – a net cut of £358,000 for the year.

To add salt to the wound the national government is “giving” local government part of the business rates from 2020. Not declaring that these taxes were originally raised by and for local government in the first place.

On average each county fixed 12,000 potholes last year.  At this rate it would take 14 years to clear the repair backlog in England.  Surrey’s position is worse and it would take longer.

At current rates of repair it would take 65 years to resurface our entire road network and Surrey would take longer.

We have to remind ourselves that Surrey has the wealth to repair all of our highways.  In my view it is the duty of Surrey to give priority to maintain those aspects of life that cannot be undertaken by individuals for themselves: such as highways, environment and security.

Parking Review

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582The timetable for reviewing parking in Weybridge as decided by Surrey is as follows:  January and February – collection of views. April and May – Surrey’s assessment, development and informal consultation.   June –  Surrey’s committee authorisation to advertise proposals.  July and August – advertisement of proposals. September and October – consideration of proposals and final decision. November and December – detailed design.  April and May 2017 – implimentation.

Heath Path

Heath Road

Another step on the way to safe travel for pedestrians and cyclists between the town and the station along Heath Road.

Surrey has never pushed for a path here because it was always considered too difficult to get permission from the owners for a path on the common.  Despite the general reluctance to make the move, I pressed for approaches to be made to the owners of the land. Officers from Surrey have now approached the owners who have given their approval in principle.

There are many more steps ahead. However, gaining this permission in principle is probably the most important.  We are now moving ahead on seeking sources of funding.  There are currently more financial pots available than there were previously. Two examples are the Community Infrastructure Levy- CIL – and the M3 Growth Fund.

Heath Road Path

Heath RoadSurrey has agreed to spend £160,000 over two years to improve safety and amenity around and approaching Weybridge Station from the town.  In some respects it has been overtaken by the new cycling plan for Weybridge (the initial station plan – remarkably – did not consider cycling).

This project is essentially a bare minimum approach to the problem given that Surrey raises insufficient funds to provide a transport network fit for one of Europe’s most dynamic locations.

The project is subject to consultation – and it needs to be because there is quite a lot wrong with it.  The main parts are:

  • Improving the unmade path on the southern side of Heath Road – this has been superseded by the current plan to make this part of the station town centre cycleway.
  • Improving the car parking opposite the Korean Church.  I am not sure that this is a good idea because it is part of the common and therefore should be removed and not upgraded. That would save £20,000.
  • Creating a one-way system for Old Heath Road.
  • Improving pedestrian crossing on Heath Road and Station Approach.
  • Resurfacing the carriageway across Diggers Bridge.

As it passes through the system I will give more details.  I’ll obviously notify you of any consultation.

Easter Egg Hunt by bike

Cycling cycle cyclistThis Sunday is Weybridge’s annual Easter Egg Hunt – by cycle.

Starting from the Hand & Spear at the station at 10am on Sunday the Easter Egg Hunt will take us on a tour of the area looking for hidden Easter eggs.  In teams of two or three cyclists, and using a map and a clue sheet we will have two hours to find as many answers as possible.

Teams can consist of two or three members.  Don’t worry if you don’t already have a buddy to ride with, you can be paired up with someone suitable at the start. There will be no fixed route, but expect to cycle around 20 miles or so.

The finish back at the station by about noon.  There will be prizes, kindly provided by Woking Cycle Users Group.

If you want to come, just turn up.  If you have questions or need to contact the organisers on the day call 07930 320 241.