We had a STACC committee meeting on Zoom on Monday evening. Later that night.... three huge announcements from the government.
PM kickstarts £2bn cycling and walking revolution - hmm, yes, using money previously announced, and that is not ambitious enough. Still the creation of Active Travel England could be a very good thing, the loss of Cycling England in the 'bonfire of the quangos' in 2012 was a setback to active travel. Details in the Gear Change plan. The first release of the £50 vouchers to get old bikes back on the road was heavily over subscribed.
And then we have the proposed changes to the Highway Code to 'improve road safety of cyclists, pedestrians and horse-riders'. You can give your views, here is the link to the consultation. You have until 27 October to respond.
Here in Hertfordshire, please look at the County Council's Speed Management Strategy Proposals. The consultation is open until 16th September. The strategy is very resistant to widespread 20mph limit or providing the speed limits that residents want for their streets, it is based on existing speeds and (lack of) enforcement. So if traffic is currently going too fast on your street, the strategy would not allow for imposing a lower limit. This runs counter to Department of Transport advice on implementing 20mph zones. See item on 20mph below for some ideas on whe 20mph is a good idea.
We have been urging Herts Highways to come up with some good proposals for funding from the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF). Their Tranche 1 proposals were not fully funded, as they were not making enough of a difference - see item below. Key requirements are re-allocating road space from motor traffic to active travel. The Department for Transport is encouraging councils to use Modal Filters to create Low Traffic Neighbourhoods - there were none of these in HCC's Tranche 1; we are pushing strongly to have some in Tranche 2. The High Street closure in St Albans is meant to be a modal filter but the barriers are not reflecting this. They extend all the way to the kerb, making it difficult for cyclists and mobility scooter users to use some of the access points. We have also made sure the highways engineers know about the suggestions made by members of the public using the Widen My Path website. Thanks to the Sustainable St Albans Schools group for their input.
As always, it really helps if you write to your County Councillor to express support for active travel and streets for people. We are getting some very encouraging signs of County Councillors being in favour of active travel, and it would good to applaud that commitment and encourage the waverers. We appreciate the modest monetary subscription that our member households give to the campaign - see below - but giving some time and energy to write to councillors is even more valuable. There is some vocal opposition to giving more roadspace to active travel, please be the voice of reason, especially if you are a voice with a vote! You can find your County Councillor contact information here
We are emphasisisng the County in this newsletter, since it is mostly Highways issues this time, but we are very aware of the contribution of District, Town and Parish Counciilors - thank you all.
County Councillor Annie Brewster, who represents Harpenden Rural and is a former mayor of St Albans, has launched a campaign for a segregated cycle lane along the A5183 Redbourn Road. This is very welcome, as even experienced cyclists can feel inimidated on this road, especially the section north of the Prae Hotel, which where the national speed limit applies - 60mph is the limit, but does every driver stick to that? You can read more about the campaign here in the Herts Advertiser of 25th June, which also contains two letters supporting better provision for cycling in Harpenden. You can assist the campaign by signing an online petition organised by Simon Barnes, owner of the bike shop & café in Redbourn. Note that the current signed cycle route from Redbourn to St Albans, which takes you along the Nickey Line to Harpenden, then along the cyclepath alongside the A1081, is 10.5 miles, whereas the direct route down the A5183 is 4.3 miles.
STACC has been asking for provision on the Redbourn Road for many years, as indeed have many people. It is wonderful to have whole-hearted support from the County Councillor and the public. Might cycle lanes and adequate footways happen soon with funding from the Department of Transport emergency fund?
Read on for more about the emergency funding and existing infrastructure news.
This is reaching you just as changes are made to the lockdown rules and guidance for England. For latest advice on individual and group cycling, check with Cycling UK and British Cycling.
Bike Week is coming up, all on line, from 6th to 14th June. Find out more.
The coronavirus lockdown has seen a huge increase in the number of cyclists on the roads, including many families. Levels of cycling in Scotland have doubled! The government has of course encouraged walking and cycling for personal health, with consequent public-health benefits of fitter people coping better with infection and reduced levels of air pollution. It is great to see so many people out cycling, on their own or with their families. It shows that people are willing to cycle if motor danger is removed. As cycle campaign supporters, let's encourage and support these new or returning cyclists! Let them know about STACC....
There has been a corresponding surge in bicycle sales this year, and local cycle shops are very busy. Some of the bikes seen on the roads look as though they have not seen daylight for decades and are being pedalled by inexperienced riders (tell-tale signs: saddles too low, tyres too soft, squeaking chains, pedalled in gears that are too high, etc). We hope the riders take advantage of the voucher scheme incuded in the package of measures announced on 9 May by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (MP for Welwyn Hatfield). Perhaps let the man in the attached Punch cartoon know about it!
Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England imminently, as part of a £250 million emergency active-travel fund. The cash is the first part of the £2 billion bundle – itself part of a wider £5bn announced back in February. Vouchers will be issued for cycle repairs, to encourage people to get their old bikes out, and plans are being developed for greater provision of bike-fixing facilities, so said the press statement. That move may well have been inspired by the government of France, which is offering €50 vouchers to its citizens to fix their bikes.