Tonbridge & Malling Green Party responds to consultation on Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells A26 cycle route plans

18 December 2016

Tonbridge & Malling Green Party welcomes plans to improve the cycle route between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. We believe enhancements have the potential to increase the number of people cycling between the two towns, not just for leisure but as a regular and practical means of transport, with personal and public benefits in terms of congestion, air quality and health.

As a matter of principle we would prefer roads to be shared by all users rather than segregated but on some routes we accept that the volume and speed (although this should be reduced) of traffic make segregation advisable.

On particularly busy routes, of which the A26 is one, physical segregation is necessary to ensure compliance and safety.

We support the conclusion and recommendation of the Tunbridge Wells Town Forum (set out in its response):

“The A26 is a key access route to Royal Tunbridge Wells. Between Grosvenor Road - Speldhurst Road ‘the cycle route’ will pass by three secondary schools and close to two others, and pass by the St John Sports Centre. It has potential as a commuter route for people working in the town centre and for school age children attending the schools.  However, the design  for the proposed ‘cycle route’ is inadequate to ensure the safety of cyclists of any age, but particularly those of school age. Along this busy and narrow section of ‘the cycle route’ cycling must be segregated to be safe.  The current design is a risk to cyclists in such close proximity to vehicles and from pollution.”

It is essential that cycle routes are continuous – they are only as effective as their weakest link. If cyclists have to rejoin traffic before their destination or continually dismount or cross the carriageway, all but the most determined and experienced riders will be deterred.

This proposal includes an entire length where it is deemed that “Due to speed and visual nature of the A26 making a cycle lane on the carriageway is not considered to be a safe option along this length.” This of course could negate the whole point of improving the route – we suggest this decision is reconsidered. 

Having examined the detailed proposals for the whole length of the route, we think that in general it is a well thought through scheme, given the limitations of the existing infrastructure.

We would like to see a better solution than dismounting at the bridge over the A21 just south of Tonbridge. Could the pavement be widened and the parapet raised?

The 3m wide shared footway/cycleway, where specified is a good solution and we would certainly not like to see pedestrians squeezed onto too-narrow footways as this simply causes conflict.

We are not sure how effective extending cross-hatching will be where cyclists are riding on the carriageway – this effectively narrows the road, with some motorists then passing much to close to cyclists rather than entering the cross-hatched area.

It is good to see more consistency of road markings proposed eg extending mandatory cycle lane across side roads (as advisory) and through zig zags at crossings. The block paved raised tables at side roads should encourage drivers to give more consideration to pedestrians and cyclists. The “floating bus stops” seem a good solution to reduce potential conflict.

We strongly support the introduction of a 20mph zone through St Johns and indeed would like to see this in all residential areas, country lanes and villages.