ARGUMENTS AGAINST CYCLE TRACKS
Here is a list concerns that people have about building cycle tracks and increasing levels of Farnham town centre cycling. These are not in any particular order. If you type <CONTROL> F you can probably search for key words in relation to your concern. For example you could try to find ‘parking’ in this text if that is what you are worried about.
1. Anything that affects the flow of cars in the centre will only make traffic worse.
FCC RESPONSE: experience from other towns where cycle tracks have been provided shows that when the tracks are built a lot of people choose to leave their cars at home and overall traffic levels reduce. Indeed, the country with the most cycle routes is the Netherlands and the Netherlands was also voted the 'most satisfying place to drive' [a car] in a survey of car drivers in dozens of countries! If the Hickleys-South Street-Bear Lane route was used for a new cycle track then no car lanes would be closed and no roads shut.
2. The streets of Farnham are too narrow in our small historic town centre.
FCC RESPONSE: FCC have proposed 4 routes across the town centre, one of them runs from Hickleys Corner via South Street to Bear Lane joining on to the Scholars Greenway cycle path which runs along the southern end of Farnham Park to Heath End School. These roads are quite wide. Few people have actually looked the Department for Transports design guides but they feel qualified in making designs for roads!
3. What we really need is a bypass.
FCC RESPONSE: A western bypass or an underpass at Hickleys Corner A31 junction would not be able to start for several years (maybe 5+) due to planning and funding lead times, and would involve up to 1 year’s road works during its implementation, forcing even more motorised traffic into the town whilst the build takes place. The cost of a town centre cycle highway would be about 2% of the cost of either project. Plus, investing in big road schemes encourages more traffic and does not take us closer to carbon zero. The M25 motorway used to be 3 lanes but building is encouraged more traffic and so a 4th lane was added and then a 5th. In Houston, Texas, they have a 13 lane motorway and still people are stuck in jams and just watch this video from Los Angeles!
4. I am worried if residents on-street parking bays are removed. Farnham is a difficult place to park in at the best of times and further reducing parking will have a negative impact on businesses which during tough economic times and in an era when the high street really is struggling.
FCC RESPONSE: the FCC proposal is that residents with permits would be allowed to park in the off-road car parks like Waggon Yard (which they cannot do today without paying). At the moment, there is huge congestion in these bays, FCC’s first-hand experience shows that residents with a Zone A permit and usually struggle to find a space. But if permit holders were allowed to overflow into the main off street car parks e.g. Wagon Yard then there would actually be less pressure on the remaining on street bays that there is now.
5. Farnham cannot afford to spend money on cycling schemes and it also might put up our council tax.
FCC RESPONSE: The funding would be provided by central Government and there are new grants available ring-fenced for Active Travel. The Transport Minister has asked councils to apply for this funding and to increase levels of cycling and walking.
6. Cyclists are dangerous, especially when they are on the pavement.
FCC RESPONSE: Cycling on the pavement is illegal for anyone over 10 years old unless they are on a shared pavement/cycle path marked by blue signs. However, cars are much more dangerous than bikes on the pavement, 548 people were killed by cars/vans on UK pavements in the last 13 years. As a pedestrian in the UK your are twice as likely to die walking as you would walking in the Netherlands. Plus a 3 year old was killed when a car mounted the pavement earlier in July 2020, and some more people hit in June and more in December and September. Also cars parking on the pavement can cause families and wheelchair users to have to walk into the road to get round. Overall, if people choose to leave their cars at home and cycle more, there will be fewer serious accidents.
7. Farnham is too hilly for cycling! It’s not as flat as the Netherlands.
FCC RESPONSE: ebikes are the answer. Electric-assist bikes cost from £430 and they ‘make hills disappear’. We have a page on this website with advice on what to buy and where to get one. We also have an ebike demonstrator that you can borrow free of charge. An ebike journey from South Street Sainsburys to Bourne Green takes just 6 minutes, without getting out of breath! We have a video on Youtube to prove this. Ebikes can also allow people who are elderly or who have mild arthritis to get back on a saddle in a hilly town like Farnham.
8. Why should we build cycle tracks when bikes don’t pay road tax? Why should we allow bikes on road when they pay no road tax?
FCC RESPONSE: There is no such thing as 'road tax'. There is Vehicle Excise Duty and this is based on how much a vehicle pollutes i.e. engine size and type. Cyclists and electric cars pay no VED as they don't pollute. That's right electric cars pay no road tax either. The cycle tracks are also designed for people on mobility scooters and the disabled etc..
9. Only a few people cycle, a narrow segment of society, so why redesign our towns for a small minority.
FCC RESPONSE: There will not be only a select group who use the lanes as this video proves . Evidence from other places in the UK shows that the number of cyclists will increase over time as this video from London proves. This was also demonstrated during the Lockdown as more people started cycling when they could do it safely. The attached photo, taken recently in London, shows a typical bunch of cycle track users including a lady wearing wellies!
10. We object to a small pressure group hijacking the town for it’s own selfish purposes. Nobody wants more cycle tracks.
FCC RESPONSE: The Government has researched cycling as a form of transport and has concluded that the country needs more cycling to reduce pollution and take us closer to carbon zero. A survey of a random group of train commuters at Farnham in Oct 2019, showing that 667 people said that they would ‘regularly use town centre cycle tracks if available’. Only 136 people said that they woud not.
11. This country can’t afford to build cycle tracks.
FCC RESPONSE: The Dutch Government has worked out that the money saved by the extra health benefits of cycling is about 3% of GDP and so investing in cycle tracks is good business case. The Dutch are literally becoming slimmer every year, just by going to work and shopping. Also there is less diabetes and they literally live longer with a better quality of life.
12. Too many bikes are stolen so I don't want to rely on one.
FCC RESPONSE: It is always better to lock your bike to something so that it can't easily be picked up and placed in a thieve's van. FCC has published a list of existing, legal parking locations. As well as that, we have two people working on applying for funding for more cycle parking facilities. The existing space can be seen on the Open Street Maps website, or the smartphone 'OSMand' app. We will add more locations when they are installed.
13. Traffic is like a water, if you block the flow, it will just go elsewhere.
FCC RESPONSE: Whilst this seems intuitive ‘common sense’, it is demonstrably wrong. Unlike water, car
drivers intelligently change, adapt to circumstances and take up alternatives. The concept of
‘induced demand’ was established by the government back in 1994 in the report “Trunk
roads and the generation of traffic”. See item 3, upgrades to the bypass will draw in MORE
traffic to the area.
Interestingly, the converse, ‘traffic disappearance’ or 'traffic evapouration' has also been shown to be true. The 2002
paper “Disappearing traffic? The story so far” researched 70 case studies from 11 countries
and found that while some displacement of motor traffic occurs, on average motor traffic
reduces by 11% following road space reallocation.
14. If people can't drive into town the shops will die.
FCC RESPONSE: Actually research by the Univeristy of Birmingham shows the exact opposite to be true. Shops on a cycle track experience a 49% increase in trade and there are other benefits too. Presumably because it's easy to jump off a bike and pop into a shop.
15. The air pollution isn't that bad is it?
Well about 56 people/year die from air pollution in Waverley according to Public Health England and Farnham has the worst pollution in Waverley.