Conflict by Design

Surrey County Council are, at the time of writing, consulting on implementing some cycling facilities in Walton-on-Thames to act as a link to the shiny new bridge that has been installed.

Walton Bridge

Figure 1 Walton Bridge has shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians. Photo by Get Surrey

Consultation Area

Figure 2 Walton-on-Thames proposed cycle plan overview. Shared pavements in lime green. Original image from the consultation plans

The consultation can be found here. In summary, the plans being consulted upon involve:

  • Widening certain pavements to between 2.5-3m along roads that link to Walton Bridge
  • Marking these widened pavements for shared use between cyclists and pedestrians
  • A limited portion of these shared pavements will be painted to show a separate bicycle lane
  • Plans stop shortly before the road turns into a 40 mph zone
  • At all junctions with side roads, motor vehicles have priority

On superficial analysis the plans appear to be very good in separating cyclists from motorised traffic, providing a subjectively safe space for existing and would be cyclists to go about their business. But that would be superficial analysis indeed.

From the overview of the plans (Figure 2) we can see that the shared paths run through the shopping areas of Walton-on-Thames, pavements that are heavily used by pedestrians to go shopping. These plans deliberately put cyclists in conflict with pedestrians because they fail to recognise that shared paths only ever work when there are very few users of vastly different speeds.  In these plans at each junction along the main road, cyclists do not have right of way posing a further danger to them and pedestrians.  The plans appear to have been designed to get cyclists out of the way of motorists and put them into direct conflict with pedestrians in an area heavily used by pedestrians.

This excellent video by WokingTrafficSafety shows a walkthrough of the pavements in Walton-on-Thames that these plans are for.

Figure 3 Walton-on-Thames video walkthrough

Surrey County Council are willing to take away some road space in an attempt to widen the pavements. However, the use of shared pavements in this area is completely inappropriate. There is enough room on the roads in question to have pavements, wide separated cycle lanes, which have same priority as adjacent roadway, and two way roadway for motor traffic. However, it requires the will to reallocate space properly.

The consultation can be found here. Please do visit the consultation page and leave them your thoughts using this link. The consultation closes on 19 August.

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