It could soon be possible to take a “pleasant walk or cycle” without being slapped in the face by brambles or nettles thanks to a Farnham county councillor.
A motion calling on Surrey County Council to prioritise the maintenance of walking and cycling routes was passed with unanimous cross-party support – as long as the plans pass select committee.
Introducing the item at the Tuesday, July 11 full council meeting, was Residents’ Association and Independents Group leader Councillor Catherine Powell (Farnham Residents, Farnham North).
She said: “The travel choices people make will be driven by how convenient, safe, easy, and enjoyable the options are.
“These choices will also impact on the individuals carbon footprint, and their health and wellbeing.”
Cllr Powell added: “We must make the most of the infrastructure we have already invested in, by proactively maintaining the surfaces, managing vegetation and prioritising the routes that people value most and use most. That will encourage others to use them too.”
The motion, she said, would “ensure our residents are not put off from walking, cycling, scooting because of overgrown paths, poorly repaired surfaces or just the plain absence of a map that shows the cut-throughs through an estate”.
The group hopes new and improved routes, in addition to the increased awareness from new maps – created with input from ramblers and cyclists – would reduce the dependence on driving as a default means of transport.
The motion was seconded by Cllr Jonathan Essex, leader of the Green Party group, who said it would ensure bus and cycle lanes, as well as pavements, were inspected more frequently.
He told the meeting it would “make it possible to do a pleasant walk or cycle without being slapped by brambles or nettles”.
The motion will go to the council’s highways select committee for approval following an amendment from Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver who told the meeting decisions requiring policy and budget changes needed greater scrutiny and couldn’t be made on the hoof – but he supported it in principle.
The motion says that increasing cycling and walking is a key objective of the council, and forms part of Surrey’s Community Vision for 2030 and Local Transport Plan.
All highways policies will be aligned with the council’s transport vision but, the motion said, more still needs to be done to develop plans to encourage walking and cycling.
As such the council has agreed, subject to agreement from the select committee, to update transport plans to support a higher priority grading on routes for local walking and cycling journeys, – particularly in areas of high employment, schools, hospitals, and leisure facilities.
It will also ensure walking and cycling routes are not blocked by overgrown plants and that highways inspection, for things such as potholes, are extended to left-behind signs, debris on pavements and cycleways and blocked drains.