As lockdown restrictions are eased, Surrey County Council is working hard to help residents get around the county safely, and to support local traders as more shops start reopening.
From widening pavements in town centres, to encouraging more cycling, it is hoped that these will be positive changes for our health and environment after the challenges of the coronavirus restrictions.
Pilot schemes in three Surrey town centres are encouraging residents to support their high streets while maintaining social distancing as more shops start reopening.
In Farnham, pavements along both sides of The Borough and Downing Street have been widened. There is a single lane for cars, signage to encourage HGVs to avoid the area and an advisory 20mph speed limit. This has been done in partnership with Farnham Town Council.
In Godalming, the High Street is now pedestrianised from 10am to 4pm, from Monday to Saturday.
Walking and cycling
In addition to the town centre pilots, Surrey County Council has been allocated £1.696 million by the government to implement further schemes to help people travel around the county by foot or bike. Highways officers have worked with Surrey’s borough and district councils, county councillors and other partners to come up with 400 suggestions for improvements.
The council has applied to the government to use the full allocation, and is awaiting sign off from the Department for Transport on schemes before they can proceed. More details are on the council website.
There will also be an extra £200,000 investment in Surrey County Council’s cycle training programme over the next year. How this will be delivered will depend on social distancing restrictions, but the county council will reduce the cost charged to schools and parents so more children can take part. There will also be an increase in pedestrian training in schools.
The county council has redistributed £447,232 from the government’s Covid Bus Service Support Fund, to 11 bus companies in Surrey. The money covers a 12 week period from 17 March when the country went into lockdown and bus usage dropped.
The funding meant there were still bus services for key NHS and other workers and for those needing to undertake essential food shopping. It also means that the companies have survived the lockdown and can continue to run services.
The Guildford Park and Ride service, which only uses electric buses, will start increasing services from Monday (15 June). The Merrow car park will be reopening, and the Artington car park return to normal services. Services from the Onslow and Spectrum car parks remain suspended. Parking is free at the park and ride car parks, bus fare costs are available on the council website.
People are reminded that the government now requires face masks to be worn on public transport, and are advised to check on local parking restrictions as district and borough councils start reintroducing parking charges and enforcement.
Matt Furniss, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “As we emerge from the lockdown, we have an opportunity to change how we get about and continue to use active ways of travelling like walking and cycling. This is good for our own heath and wellbeing, reduces congestion and improves air quality.
“While some of these are temporary measures as we deal with the current situation, I really hope we can start to make positive and long lasting changes as we reduce our reliance on the car and take more active and environmentally friendly ways of getting around.
“And its great to hear that our bus services are continuing and starting to return to normal service levels as this is an essential way to get around for many of our residents.”