A TOP priority for Kingston Council is ensuring a greener future for the whole borough. Central to achieving this is our aim to provide viable “active travel” options that allow residents to reduce their use of cars.

We are committed to making cycling and other forms of “active travel” attractive, safe and easy to use for as many people as possible. Providing viable alternatives to the private car so residents have the opportunity to change their travel choices is an important part of tackling the climate emergency we face.

For a number of years now we have been implementing our cycle infrastructure programme to upgrade major routes around the borough to include modern cycle lanes and improved pavements for pedestrians. The initiative has been funded by Transport for London (TfL) and the cycle lanes along parts of Kingston Road and Ewell Road, in New Malden and Surbiton respectively, are the most recent to have been installed. They are yet to be completed, in part due to TfL’s financial difficulties and its extended negotiation with the Government over funding.

We want to complete both schemes and to continue to expand “active travel” infrastructure into other parts of the borough. However, while the initiative is on hold, we are taking the opportunity to review how the Kingston Road and Ewell Road schemes are currently working. This will allow us to consider if any small but effective improvements could be made to parts of the routes.

The council is now looking at the feedback and evidence it has received so far, examining the data and talking to the emergency services and organisations representing all user groups. In September, after the school holidays, we will be asking for any further feedback from the public. The findings and recommendations will then be presented to relevant neighbourhood committees in the autumn.

I recognise that the introduction of our cycle programme has led to a lot of change and the reaction across our communities has sometimes been negative as well as positive. However, we do remain committed to the idea of increasing the viability of “active travel” options so our residents can change their travel habits and take a big step forward in addressing the environmental challenges we all face.

The recent changes to the Highway Code illustrate that we are all going through a major change around how we have to behave as road users. These are positive and necessary changes that encourage us to consider the people using roads around us, rather than simply the mode of transport they are using. The new “hierarchy of road users” in the Highway Code places those most at risk in the event of a collision as a priority.

This change to the Highway Code will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists and is a chance to encourage more people to walk and cycle where possible rather than using cars. Not only will this help us all live healthy and more active lives, but it will - of course - also help us to improve our air quality.

To find out more about our review of the Kingston Road and Ewell Road schemes please visit our Let’s Talk website.