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Saturday, 17 August 2013
Titsey Hill to Warlingham Cycle Route

Last week I rode the length of the cyclepath, for the first time in about 5 months, and I noticed some small changes.  Some (not all) of the very bad potholes at road intersections have been repaired (not very well, but noticably). Someone has also painted (repainted?) white bicycle signs at intervals along the path, as well as “give way” signs for cyclists at the intersection with every road and farm track.  I thought it would be useful (for future reference) to create this documentary record of the current condition of the cycle path.

The video shows the first part of the cycle path (from The Ridge to Botley Hill farmhouse) as being an unmarked and narrow dirt footpath/track on the left (West) side of the B269.  From Botley Hill farmhouse the track widens a bit and there is some paving. The path is marked as being for shared use, by cyclists and pedestrians.  After a couple of hundred metres, the path crosses to the right of the road, and continues to Warlingham.  One can see in this section of the video that the hedge and grass verge has been mowed in the past few months.  Despite this, there are nettles and brambles overgrowing the path.  Some fresh daubs of paint (a cycle sign here, a give way sign there) have been applied at various points along the length of the path.  The condition of the path is not great (it is bumpy, cracked and uneven) especially at the intersections.  My observation is that despite the poor state of the intersections, some partial repairs have been done in the past 6 months on the worst of the potholes. Along its full length the path is considerably less than 2 metres wide (which it was when originally developed) and for most of that length it is less than 1 metre wide.  In the video we see a couple of other cyclists, and pedestrians, using the path. and passing with difficulty. The path is also noticably bumpy and uneven throughout - even on the better stretches.

I have written before about this cycle path, here.  I observed at the time that the B269 is a dangerous road, that the cyclepath provides a safe alternative for cyclists, and that despite this many cyclists stick to the road (probably due to the poor condition of the cyclepath).  The cycle path is now about 10 years old.  It was at least one year late in development (due to insufficient funding allocation) and it is my assessment that very little has been spent on maintaining the path in the past 10 years. In addition the project has never been properly completed:

Here is a potted (pun intended) history of the cycle path:

The establishment of the path entailed upgrading the existing footpath along the B269, Titsey Hill to Warlingham, to a shared cycle path. This was agreed at Committee in 2001. The scheme included junction improvements, the creation of a 2 metre wide path along the existing verge, and additional signing.  The total estimated cost at the time was £80,000. It is not clear whether this sum was fully spent, because the path doesn’t seem to have been fully completed (see above and in the relevant local committee notes).  Some background of this project is in this document dating from June 2003 on the Surrey County Council website.  Interestingly it shows that the cyclepath was seen as part of a broader strategy, which was to promote cycling in Tandridge (and of course to secure government funding to promote sustainable transport in Tandridge), which entailed something called the Tandridge Cycle Network.  If there is a Tandridge Cycle Network, then it appears to me that it hasn’t emerged in the past 10 years, so I will do some more investigation about that.

Five years ago (and five years after the infrastructure was delivered) someone reported the dire condition of the cyclepath as follows:

This cycle path is possible the worst laid & maintained piece of tarmac in the area. There are two main areas that are plagued by ridges and ruts too numerous to accurately describe. It has recently had a few token repairs but this has not made it any easier to use. This is an important alternative to the adjacent busy and fast main road.

It is my opinion that the Council has only ever done token and cosmetic maintenance to the cyclepath.

Regarding the Tandridge Cycle Network I haven’t been able to find any documents on this after about 2004. It does appear to be a target-based scheme (adding a certain target distance to routes designated as cycle routes) rather than a proper strategic cycling initiative.  In short it doesn’t do what it states on the tin:

This report outlines a strategy for the development of cycling in Tandridge and proposes a programme for implementation over the next 12 months.

The report describes that some consultation with local businesses will take place, and mentions a few cycle routes that will be partially created. For example “from Godstone High Street to the A22” (presumably a lot of cyclists in Godstone really want to get to the (busy) A22?)  The accompanying annex (to the October 2004 Tandridge Local Committee document) illustrates the poverty of the “vision” of a cycling network in Tandridge, although we can see evidence of better planning for cycle provision by 2012 in the Tandridge District Council Infrastructure Delivery Schedule document (even if this remains unfunded, and I still haven’t seen evidence of a strategic vision behind these proposed developments).

Posted by bigblue on 17/08/2013 at 08:00 AM
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