Reigate High Street to be reduced to one lane to help cyclists

Surrey’s proposals on 12 June – changes are anticipated in the final plans

 

*Update: this story is out of date – see here for more recent*

A pop-up cycle lane separated by traffic barriers could be installed in Reigate High Street as early as this week, as part of a Surrey County Council scheme drawn up in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Motorists would lose one lane in the High Street, to make way for the cycle lane, and a traffic order has been published for a 20mph limit in much of the town centre.

Other roads in the town centre such as Church Street and Bell Street will also see cycling-friendly changes, but here the confirmed detail is less clear.

Changes to parking arrangements in the town include the removal of parking on the A25 (Reigate Road) near Chart Lane, where an advisory cycle lane currently sits, and some form of temporary parking restrictions in the High Street.

Surrey County Council’s press office said on Monday (29 June) that more information about the scheme is being prepared.

The council’s fortnightly Highways Bulletin says that lane closure elements of the scheme will operate from 4 July until 3 October, but the council’s Active Travel map has dates into November.

The plan will use funds from the Government’s emergency active travel fund, which aims to support the increase in cycling and walking during the coronavirus pandemic, and in light of the lower take-up of public transport.

County councillor for Reigate, Zully Grant-Duff, said on Monday that the cycle lane was intended to be in place before 4 July, when more businesses are allowed to reopen.

She said that the measures were “experimental” (a phrase also used in the Government guidance) and that water-filled red and white barriers separating the cycle lane would be easy to install and easy to remove depending on how things worked.

There hasn’t been a formal consultation on the plans, but Surrey’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr Matt Furniss, asked borough and county councillors to comment on the plans on 12 June.

Cycle Redhill & Reigate, a cycle campaign forum, have publicised the proposals over recent weeks, and organised an open online meeting on Sunday 14 June, attended by councillors from four political parties and others who were interested.

A letter was put together with points discussed at the meeting and sent to Surrey County Council: the group’s Bill Jessup said on Monday that they were waiting to hear answers to questions that had been raised.

Among borough councillors who have provided input to Surrey County Council has been Steve Kulka, who has suggested moving the cycle lane in Church Street to the right-hand side to make it easier for cyclists to navigate traffic turning left into Bancroft Road.

Reigate Business Guild only found out about the plans on Wednesday last week (24 June), according to guild member Jes Chandler. He described the lack of consultation as “baffling”.

Mr Chandler said that a 20mph limit and a cycle lane through Reigate “is great if you are a cyclist on a training run to Box Hill and back” but that “it will do nothing to encourage cyclists to come to the town centre”.

He added that the loss of parking and “total gridlock” “will have a detrimental effect on the retail trade”, and that it would have been better to make more use of Priory Park for the cycle route in preference to the High Street.

Surrey’s local committee for Reigate & Banstead (a body made up of both county and borough councillors which typically looks at the work of Surrey County Council within the borough) wasn’t officially consulted on the plans, according to chairman County Cllr Jeff Harris.

He said he attended a meeting on Friday 26 June where he was able to comment, although that was after the decision had been taken by Surrey County Council.

Cllr Harris added that government rules allowed for central decision making on emergency measures such as these.

Asked about the lack of formal public consultation, County Cllr for Reigate Zully Grant-Duff said the need to meet Government funding deadlines had limited wider consultation.

She said that any permanent changes would see fuller consultation, with advertising of plans in the normal way.

Cllr Grant-Duff said the layout of Reigate’s town centre roads, particularly near the Old Town Hall, made improvements challenging and that all road users such as HGVs, cyclists and pedestrians had different needs and would have different reactions to the proposals.

 

Update: Surrey County Council said in a press release today that installation of the scheme will take place this Friday, 3 July.