BBC Surrey will broadcast a live debate dealing with the future of cycling in Surrey on Wednesday, October 23.

Surrey County Council (SCC) has instigated the debate which will provide the opportunity for members of the public to pose questions to a panel of guests that will include representatives from British Cycling, Sustrans, Surrey Police, the health sector, local groups and SCC itself.

Surrey has been at the centre of debate regarding the volume of cyclists using its roads, particularly during the closed roads RideLondon 100 event in August. A widely-publicised petition was created by local resident Ian Huggins, who asked: “Surrey County Council Stop Surrey being turned into a cycle track”.

To date, just under 3,000 have signed Huggin’s petition in support of Surrey residents that are “pestered and annoyed by cyclists… in very large numbers from very early in the morning shouting at each other”.

The debate will contribute to the formation of the Surrey Cycling Strategy, which SCC recognises should be a collaboration between local residents and cyclists to suit all parties as much as possible.

In recent years, Surrey has closed it roads to accommodate the London 2012 road races, the London-Surrey Classic, the RideLondon Classic and stages of the Tour of Britain. Surrey roads – and in particular Box Hill – are used frequently for non-closed-roads cyclo-sportive events.

The debate will take place at the University of Surrey, Guildford, on Wednesday October 23 2013 between 7-8.30pm. Those wishing to attend should complete SCC’s online application before October 15.

Related link

Comment: Cyclists and drivers, can’t we all just get along?

External link

Surrey County Council website: Surrey Cycling Strategy Consultation

  • Samuel Gee

    @ Don Sutherland

    Don. You are right that there was a prejudice against cyclists historically in this country but that came from the same motivation that the Ramblers had to fight against. In the late 19th early 20th centuries the bicycle was affordable to the urban masses and it allowed them to get out into the countryside. Women could also ride and this was regarded with some disdain. It’s an interesting historical note.

    But that’s not what is happening now. And BTW plenty of people in Surrey like cycling. It’s a growth activity here. I’ve been cycling since a teenager but I am pleased to see that growth and it goes across the board. Lots of those cyclists in Surrey are perfectly well off and also have nice shiny cars. I do. So this is not a “class” or “wealth” thing at all. Nor is it down in the New Forest where I have ridden sportives, my brother still lives, and where I used to cycle as said teenager.

    The anti-cycling lobby isn’t really an anti-cycling lobby because they hate cyclists alone. they are in my experience the same people that also hate speed cameras and speed limits, parking fines, bus lanes, caravans and basically anything they think gets in the way of what they see as their divine right to drive irresponsibly.

    I think the argument we should make back should not be to “defend” cycling. There is nothing to defend. It doesn’t kill 2000 people a year or injure 200,000 ((50,000) seriously. It doesn’t pollute, it doesn’t damage the roads. We don’t have to import oil to make it happen. It keeps people fit and every person on a bike and not in a car liberates 8 times the road space.

    Instead what I think we should do is stop taking the criticisms of cyclists seriously. They are not serious criticisms. They generally amount to an anecdote about how some cyclist didn’t get out of the way quick enough or who became angry because a motorist took liberties with their safety and most of the anecdotes take a similar stylized form. “I was carefully driving my motor vehicle …..when I was viciously attacked by a man on a bike who was speeding…” or similar. It’s rarely the truth or the whole truth of the incident. It’s unlikely that the person on the 25lb bike with no protection and vulnerable to being run over is the initial aggressor/transgressor. But if they respond to being carved up, buzzed, intimidated, hooted at, shouted at with anything other than a mea maxima culpa then they are branded the aggressor. ”

    So I have made complaints as a driver of a couple of of other drivers in my time. I have seen such numerous daily instances of quite dangerous driving, inconsiderate and yobbish driving. Too many to count and if people bothered complaining to the police about other rude inconsiderate motorists, speeding, driving in the wrong lane, wheels on the pavement, jumping the lights, amber gambling, dangerous overtaking they’d be snowed under in hours. But for some reason if it’s a cyclist they write to the papers about it. It’s a simple lack of respect issue. For some reason another motorist does something and they tut tut and just carry on. They forget about in seconds. But if it’s a cyclist they see do something wrong it incenses them.

    As I said above the proposed debate is a loaded question. “Are there too many cyclists” ought to be “Are there too many cars being used in Surrey when some of them could easily use a bicycle.

  • roginoz

    Having been a high mileage driver in the UK for 40 years it was apparent to me that many drivers were impatient with other drivers as well as cyclists. Why dont these people realise that 99% of cyclists are motorists as well. These saddos are arrogant but also a real danger to ALL other road users. Surely though Sam any broadcast debate is good. It just makes me appreciate what great roads I have on my doorstep , comparatively traffic free,most drivers moving out to give plenty of space, though there are some loonies , known here as hoons but this is a country area…cyclists do not have it so good in the cities esp Sydney which is a battleground.So to all fellow Brits I say good luck, always give a thankyou wave to good drivers . The more cyclists there are ,the more there will be change.

  • cHRIS

    The comments in the article from the local resident compaining about surrey being ‘turned in to a cycle track, pretty much sound to me like code for , ‘ I can;t drive as fast as I want anymore and actually have to consider other road users and I don’t like it’ As most roads are already motor vehicle tracks which cyclists have to navigate with a feeling of inferiority I don’t see why surrey roads shouldn’t be a cycle and motor vehicle track, and shared equally. And to say that cyclists ride past shouting at each other, well to put it nicely that’s just bo##ocks, I’ve never been on a group ride where people are shouting constantly and don’t think I ever will!
    The debate happening on tv shows in my opinion that a few ranting anti cyclist idiots can gain a wide arena for their views , just because they are pro car, whereas I haven’t heard, as in the comment above , of any plans to have a debate about cyclists feeling that there are too many idiotic drivers. I hope that it gives at least equal time to both sets of views and doesn’t turn into a sensasionalist them and us debate…again.

  • Frank Schiller

    The benefits of cycling over travelling by car are obvious to anybody who has lived in Milton Keynes. This town has two perfect and entirely separated traffic system: one for cars and one for bicycles. Given that the obesity rate amongst the 16 year old is about 18%, which makes it one of the worst place in the UK if not Europe, you guess which system is used more often. You guessed right, few use the red ways, as they are called there; but all use the NHS, which can surely trace the live-long trail of cost of these early choices through the cohorts. That alone justifies all the effort to get people to cycle.
    The situation is of course different in Surrey. Here the presents of bicyclists is a nuisance to 3000 people or 0.0027%. I am not particularly impressed by their lack of judgement but would still like to point out that one could probably collect the same number of signatures against green cars and certainly more against speed traps.
    It might annoy motorists to being overtaken by bicyclists when they creep into town during rush hour. The very same cyclists they overtook 10min earlier. But hey, take it with some sportsmanship and believe me that I would love to have separate cycling lanes for the benefit I bring to the community.

  • nigel Virgo

    Quite a few signatures were not in support of the petition but agreeing specifically that the Ride London Event was overly disruptive. As a mole valley resident, motorcyclist, car driver, mountain biker rider and road cyclist, the issue is simply people getting annoyed by the impact the closed road races had. It was very annoying for Surrey residents to be kettled from 6AM to 5PM on the ride London. There is a small issue with inconsiderate clubs riding the popular routes at other times and not giving space and courtesy to others, but that is the same for any road user. There are idiot motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrian horse riders and car drivers. We just have to be courteous to each other and get on with sharing the roads.

    I personally love the fact that there are so many bike riders in surrey, gives the place a real buzz.

  • Dave M

    There is a counter petition being circulated by cyclists….why is this not referred to in the article?

  • Don Sutherland

    Further to my comments accidentally sent moments ago, There being 3 000 signatories out of the population of Surrey, is but a small percentage. Knowing the affluence of Surrey people, I would venture that most cannot ride a bicycle, it’s beneath their dignity and bikes might scratch their big expensive cars! This would seem to be a repeat of the late 1800s and early 1900s where the upper classes effectively smothered the development of road cycle racing as “the sport of peasants” .

  • Samuel Gee

    I’m not sure that having a debate about this is very helpful. That’s not to say that debates aren’t generally useful. I can see why the BBC wants to broadcast it as well. Rating should be good. But essentially the debate is whether there are too many cyclists on the road and the impulse behind it is from some somewhat pathologically anti-cycling loons, one of which stood shouting an raving in Dorking as the Ride London event came round.

    So will we also have a debate about whether too many people drive cars in Surrey. I am both a cyclist and a motorist. I see lots of venom poured out at cyclists for “slowing up the traffic” when the reason the traffic is slow is the number of cars. A cyclist may delay an impatient motorist for a few seconds but that’s on their way to the next line of stationary traffic which doesn’t seem to raise any problem.

    It’s a real blind spot for a lot of motorists. They get angry at a cyclist for a few seconds delay before they can overtake on their way to the back of the next queue but are perfectly content to sit stationary in a line of vehicles that they can’t overtake.

    It never ever occurs to them that the problem isn’t too many cyclists, it’s too few. If only all the people currently sitting alone with their briefcase in a 5 foot wide 10 feet long 1/2 ton of metal were just taking up a about 12% of that road space as a cyclist does we’d have 8 times as much road space.

    So Ok there’s a debate but unfortunately the question being asked is a rigged and loaded one.