Surrey County Council ignoring cyclists' safety, says campaigner
THE safety of cyclists on Mole Valley's roads is being ignored by the county council, according to a local enthusiast.
Mole Valley will host the Olympic road race and the Tour of Britain later this year, but concerns have been raised about the design of the county's roads.
John Meudell, of Mole Valley Cycling Forum, says Surrey County Council (SCC) needs to take cyclists into account when designing roads.
"They don't take this stuff seriously, they can't be bothered," he said. "You've got a system of failure that allows these things to happen.
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"Road safety has become political, and the only way it can be resolved is taking it away from local politicians and putting it in an independent body."
Mr Meudell said establishing an organisation similar to the Civil Aviation Authority would increase cycling safety and avoid expensive infrastructure mistakes.
He said "There have been several big cock ups; with Pump Corner in Dorking and the Knoll roundabout they have spent nearly £1million on those projects alone, and they've been totally ineffective.
"The Epsom Road two-way cycling path, which was far too narrow, was put in and eventually taken out at a cost of £85,000.
"With the highways there is no independent inspectorate, only the police and the council."
Last month the Advertiser reported that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured rose from 50 in 2008 to 107 last year.
SCC's road safety team leader Duncan Knox said safety is a key priority for the council.
"I think the criticism that we're not responding to safety is unjustified, we're working very hard to improve cycling safety," he said.
"Despite the increase in serious injuries, more people cycling is good news. It's healthy and can lead to decreased congestion on the roads, but it must be safe."
Mr Knox says the council is promoting safe cycling, particularly along the Olympic route, which is attracting increased cycling traffic.
"There are three stages of assessment – feasibility, detailed design and a post-construction evaluation, so we continually monitor safety in design and construction," he said.
"We're working hard to ensure safety on all Surrey roads for cyclists and everybody else."
However, while many cyclists call for safer roads, numerous readers have contacted the Advertiser claiming cyclists are putting themselves in danger.
Michael Standring, from Leatherhead, said: "The problem is someone is going to be hurt. The cyclists don’t stop at traffic lights, they ride on through.
"One cyclist came howling down on the outside of traffic on my blind side and the first I saw of him was when he swerved in front of me. He’s lucky I saw him, otherwise he’d be absolutely flat."
In a letter to the Advertiser another reader, Alan McDonald, wrote: "The influx of lycra-clad lunatics rampage around with no regard for pedestrians, horse riders or car drivers.
"They ignore the Highway Code as they ignore traffic lights."
And James Poole, from Westhumble, wrote: "A lot of money has been spent on cycle lanes which most cyclists craved but now do not use. They prefer to create mayhem and danger for themselves – Evil Knievel would be proud of their antics."