This paper recently contained some of the most important statements ever affecting transport in Farnham.
Firstly, Tim Oliver, the leader of Surrey County Council, who look after most of Farnham’s road network, clearly stated the new enhancements as part of the Farnham Infrastructure Programme’s (FIP’s) Town Centre Project will restrict car traffic flows.
Secondly, yet another housing estate has been approved at appeal in Farnham.
The Waverley Lane development with 150 homes has been approved and adds to the Coxbridge Farm estate and the Six Bells estate that have been approved previously.
And three-quarters of Brightwells’ apartments are yet to be occupied.
So, in summary, a LOT of new housing and cars are coming to Farnham.
So it will be more difficult to drive through Farnham but there will be more people who need to travel in Farnham.
It’s no good fighting these facts, we need to deal with them. Tinkering with planters in one street or another, or dreaming of bypasses, will not help either.
The solution has to be transporting more people by other means, namely buses, bikes and walking.
Walking is great for people close to the town centre but according to Waverley Borough Council’s data, the majority of the public will not walk more than about 0.75 miles and only 15 per cent of people will walk 1.25 miles, for example from the very southern edge of Upper Hale to the town centre.
Buses can help people who live further out but if the town centre is jammed with cars, buses will be delayed too, making services less reliable and therefore less popular.
Bikes are a good solution for most distances although hills can reduce their popularity unless ebikes are used.
But not everyone can cycle, just as not everyone can drive (because of cost, health or bans) and not everyone is willing to use a bus.
But the biggest concern about bikes in Farnham is the lack of segregated cycle tracks for those keen to cycle to make them feel safe.
Last year’s FIP proposals disappointingly didn’t contain almost any segregated cycle tracks but hopefully this is going to be addressed at the Active Travel Workshops that are taking place over the summer.
Cycle tracks could be a game changer for Farnham as they have been for central London but only if we move quickly (excuse the pun).
So the residents, and indeed the Residents Party. have some real challenges to deal with which could result in permanent traffic jams similar to the ones seen during the recent temporary West Street closure if we don’t deliver solutions in time.
As the chair of the government’s Climate Change Committee said recently, we need to prioritorise “pace over perfection” when dealing with these challenges that affect our carbon emissions and therefore our roads, which are the number-one source of carbon emissions and air pollution in Farnham.
All three councils must now live up to their 2019 climate emergency declarations. There’s no time to waste, let’s make tracks!