Walton on Thames cycle path consultation
Surrey are consulting on what they describe as “continuous, safe, high quality cycle paths”.
Given this description I was hoping for something that would benefit all cyclists. However the reality is that most of the scheme is really permission to cycle on the pavement.
You then have to give way at every junction, where on the road you would have priority. Due to the sight lines this means coming to a complete halt looking behind you for motorists turning left into the road and ahead for those turning right and to your left for motorists in the side road. All for a junction where you have priority if you stay on the road.
For most of the path it is 2.5m wide, some as narrow as 2m, which cyclists share with pedestrians. Now pedestrians perfectly rightly don’t always stay to one side this will reduce cycling speed to walking speed while at the same time intimidating pedestrians. Even if you can cope with all of that if you wish to travel though Walton the towards the bridge you have to cross the main road onto a path on the wrong side, then cross back at or after the Bridge. This makes these parts of the path not only shared use but two way!
There is a reason that Dutch no longer use shared use facilities. They are dangerous and disliked by cyclists and pedestrians.
The people at the consultation were polite but seemed confused about the purpose of the scheme. The stated reason it casualty reduction on what is a high casualty section of road. However they also say the paths are not intended for existing cyclists. So unless the existing cyclist go away the casualty reduction will not materialise.
There are parts of the scheme that are not complete terrible. The cycle path north of the river on Gaston Road from Shepperton to the roundabout would be nice. Though again why it is shared use when there is no pavement there now is beyond me. Even this though does nothing for experienced cyclists at the junction. Rather than just giving way to people on the roundabout cyclists have to give way to everyone.
Like the shared cycle path over the New Walton Bridge this looks like a huge missed opportunity. On balance I hope it does not happen.