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”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0300 200 1003.
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