A few thoughts about cycle commuting in Horsham
In late 2016, I changed my workplace from home office to a coworking space in the centre of Horsham. I live about two miles from the new office so it was an easy decision to start cycle commuting every day.
Here are my thoughts about cycling to work for much of the last three years.
I don’t cycle every single day but I cycle into Horsham and home during rush hour (8 – 9am and 5 – 6pm) on 3-4 days each week. The other days, sometimes I walk, sometimes get the train (only one stop but it means I get to work dry when it’s raining), and sometimes I drive. Yes, I do drive and I’m contributing to the traffic in Horsham on some days but mostly I cycle commute.
Initially, I imagined that the most direct route into Horsham would be best. For me that’s Rusper Road – King’s Road – North Street. However, this has busy traffic at Rusper Road and King’s Road roundabouts and cycling over the bridge near Horsham Station feels dangerous with narrow lanes and cars often queued up behind. Forget that.
The second route I have used is Coltsfoot Drive – North Heath Lane – Wimblehurst Road – North Parade where I soon discovered that turning left at Richmond Road was preferable to the Wimblehurst Road traffic. Turning right from Richmond into Hurst Road was sometimes a problem but still preferable to Wimblehurst. North Heath Lane is also very busy and backs up every day.
However, now, my preferred route choice is Coltsfoot Drive – Heath Way – Pondtail Road – North Parade, which, although longer than the others, has less traffic overall until the Pondtail – North Parade junction. That junction can be busy but seems less of a problem than other routes. And often the traffic lights at Wimblehurst Road and Hurst Road junctions are synchronised so that I can cycle through two junctions at once.
On my way home, I use the second route which has an easier, traffic light-controlled right turn into Wimblehurst Road; it’s easier than the turn into Pondtail Road. Wimblehurst is narrow and busy but it’s normally less busy than the mornings.
- All my routes are about ten times less busy during school holidays.
Is cycle commuting dangerous?
Well, I’ve had a couple of near miss incidents. I avoided one accident by slowing and stopping at a mini roundabout where I had priority but a car driver thought otherwise. And there was another incident where a car pulled out of a junction in front of me. And a lot of close passing overtakes. I’m definitely more wary when cycling now.
Overall, my cycle commutes haven’t been dangerous but they aren’t always an easy or pleasant means of transport either.
Cycling on the pavements
I’ve seen a lot of cyclists avoiding traffic jams (and cars in general) by cycling on pavements. And my preferred route (above) has a short footpath cut-through that gets me from one road to another.
Perhaps I should cycle on the pavements more often? It would be safer for me, avoids cars, and is quicker than cycling on roads? Yet, it doesn’t feel right for me.
I just don’t have a habit of doing this, so I rarely think to do it.
- Yes, I know it’s an offence to cycle on the pavement. See Highway Code for Cyclists.
Cycling into the centre of Horsham mostly means taking your chance with cars. There’s very little cycling infrastructure, e.g cycle lanes, shared use paths, and what there is, isn’t always a very high standard.
For example, I can cycle a longer, rather circuitous route to get to an underpass under North Street to enter Horsham Park, where cycling is permitted on some paths. If doing that significantly improved my commute, I would do it. That’s not the case. It’s a No from me.
There have been some limited improvements to cycling infrastructure (e.g Kings Road going north) and I hope these continue.
- Horsham District Cycling Forum is a group that campaigns for better cycling facilities and infrastructure in Horsham. They work hard in a tough environment to make cycling safer and easier.
There’s lots of cycle parking in Horsham. Bigger cycle stands for 1O or more bikes at various locations and many groups of 2, 3 or 4 Sheffield stands. These are more convenient for my office and that’s what I use.
I would guess that Sheffield stands are easier and cheaper to install and maintain so my suggestion for cheap cycling infrastructure improvements would be more of these.
Some days, walking seems a lot more preferable than cycling. Walking means I have time for my own thoughts. A nice Spring day’s walk into Horsham is most pleasant. On the other hand, it takes about an hour out of the day whereas cycling is 20 -24 minutes.
I’m lucky that I have the choice to walk, drive or cycle into Horsham for my commute. Cycling is my preferred method of travel. However, it’s not always easy, routes are tricky, it can be cold and wet, and it is sometimes stressful – but it’s healthy and cheap – and I like how it feels on a good day.
I plan to continue.