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Pro-cycling Surrey petition overtakes anti-bike campaign

'Stop Surrey becoming a cycle track' eclipsed by Boardman supported bike-friendly argument...

A petition in favour of cycling in Surrey has overtaken one opposing the use of the county’s roads for organised rides and recreational cycling.

As of this morning, Keith McRae’s petition calling on Surrey County Council to better communicate with its residents so as to protect the future of cycling events in the county had edged ahead of Ian Huggins’ petition demanding the council ‘Stop Surrey being turned into a cycle track’.

The pro-cycling petition passed the 3,000 signature mark sometime this morning to hit 3,074 while the anti petition was at 3,014.

The visibility of the pro-cycling petition was undoubtedly helped at the weekend by the news that Chris Boardman CBE had signed it.

Boardman is a passionate and articulate advocate for everyday cycling and in his reasons for signing the petition he says “Those complaining should consider what increasing car usage will make their communities like to live in, as apposed to increasing use of bicycles and ask themselves “which place would I prefer my children to grow up in...”

The petition that started all this was posted in late July by local businessman Ian Huggins, just before the RideLondon 100 sportive.

Mr Huggins’ primary concern appeared to be the effect on local businesses, including his own weekend clay pigeon shooting set-up. He also complained that "lycra louts" rode the route in advance of the event, making noise.

He said: “Last year we were confined to barracks for two days and now I have been told I can’t leave my home unless I leave before 5am or after 7pm.

“No one has consulted me, no one has asked if I mind.”

Mr Huggins then took his complaint to the local Federation of Small Businesses, which asked its members for their thoughts.

Pauline Hedges, secretary of the Surrey Policy Team for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said, “We have had more people complaining than people saying it was a good thing but that is quite normal – people complain more than they do respond positively.’

Keith McRae - a reader known hereabouts as GKam84 - posted his petition in mid-August. It acknowledges that Surrey County Council appear to have not enough to communicate with residents well in advance of the event, and call on them to improve.

Mr McRae then details the errors and misconceptions in Mr Huggins’ original petition explaining that the RideLondon 100 was not a race, but a challenge event; that all roads are suitable for cycling except motorways; and that a full road closure is the only way to safely run such a large event.

Surrey County Council has called a public meeting on the future development of cycling in the county, to be held on November 28 at County Hall in Kingston Upon Thames.

If Ms Hedges is right that more people complain than praise, then the success of Keith McRae’s petition is good evidence for Surrey County Council to do more for cycling, not less.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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