Can you help bring School Streets to St Albans?
Streets around schools are often dominated by idling cars and speeding traffic at drop-off and pick-up times, resulting in air pollution and an environment that is generally unpleasant for walking and cycling.
‘School Streets’ are streets where the roads outside some schools are closed to most motor traffic at school opening and closing times. This helps make a safer, more pleasant environment for everyone, while making sure residents, businesses, pedestrians and cyclists can still use the roads. This short video from Hackney shows how effective the scheme can be.
Sustrans developed the School Streets programme, and increasing numbers of councils are introducing them. As well as Hackney, several London boroughs are piloting the scheme. Edinburgh began implementing it more than three years ago, and Solihull is rolling it out across the whole town. Friends of the Earth have produced an excellent guide for local groups.
Could this work in St Albans? Which schools would benefit most? Could YOU talk to a headmaster and help STACC to explore and develop a pilot scheme for a local school, perhaps the one your children go to?
Do get in touch with STACC by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
It has turned cold! According to the NHS Hospital Episode Statistics for 2016/17, the second-most common cause of admission to hospital of cyclists in England was slipping on ice. Also, weather forecasts predict air temperatures, but ice can form when road-surface temperatures, which can be up to 5 degrees lower especially in the morning, drop below zero. The Sustrans blog has a relevant post on this topic.
Hertfordshire is not one of the authorities that currently lists 'traffic weather' online, but you can follow their #GritterTwitter - if they are gritting, expect ice on untreated roads and footways.
Radio Verulam's Environment Matters show invited Larry Heyman, Local Development Manager of Thameslink & Great Northern, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), to come in and outline the proposals for St Albans City Station; you can hear Amanda Yorwerth interviewing Larry and STACC's Rona Wightman via the podcast which was broadcast on Wednesday 21st November.
20's plenty in the New Year - the St Albans city-centre 20mph zone is being extended. From 7th January 2019, Grange Street, Dalton Street, Bernard Street & Church Street will have limits of 20mph. The zone is also extending along Catherine Street to just south of the Dalton Street junction and along Hatfield Road as far as Upper Marlborough Road.
We are progressing with developing proposals for the cycling network in St Albans. Here is some helpful reading on this topic: https://therantyhighwayman.blogspot.com/2018/12/route-cause.html
The Green Ring was officially opened on 25th October by Deputy Mayor, Councillor Brian Gibbard at Bernards Heath on Thursday 25 October with the assistance of Councillor Salih Gaygusuz, Portfolio Holder for Business and the Community. They were joined by other Councillors, children from Bernards Heath Junior School and members of the St Albans Cycling Campaign.
We have had several reports recently of youths on motorbikes on both the Alban Way and the Nickey Line, behaving in a threatening manner and sadly even an actual assault. Please be watchful, keep out of their way, avoid confrontation and report any antisocial behaviour to the police using 101. If you or someone else is in danger, ring 999.
On a happier note, there are a lot of good people out there, and two riders report a positive outcome on NCN57 Great Northern near Aldwickbury. The cyclists thought that the walkers ahead had twigged them, however it turned out the walkers had thought it was runners approaching, and got a bit of a fright when all of a sudden there were cyclists alongside them. Apologies and friendly chat ensued. The message for sharing on railway-type routes is - use a bell to give a clear signal that it is a cyclist approaching. As simple as that! Add to that, the basic highway code 'slow down and give them plenty of room' always works, as it did in this instance. Picture below: further along the line, when it has become NCN6.
The Cole Green Way now has a Greenspace Action Plan, it is an impressive document, and the consultation comments were incorporated. Not always to everyone's complete satisfaction, as there are conflicting preferences amongst the various path users, but the GAP does a good job of optimising.
The Alban Way is nearing the end of its current GAP, expect consultation soon on the next five-year plan 2019-24.
Cottonmill Level Crossing now has a community group campaigning to keep it open: ‘Save Our Crossing Action Group’ https://m.facebook.com/groups/186667322006237
South West Herts Growth and Transport Plan - your holiday reading! Please try and make a comment on this, a once-in-a-decade opportunity to affirm the need for investment in cycling infrastructure. The plan is to run to 2031. This will affect existing and proposed cycle routes between Hemel, St Albans & Watford, including -
- Nickey Line north-south extension
- A4147 cycleway
- A414 cyleway Hemel - Park Street
- A1081 cycle corridor Luton - St Albans
- A405 cycleway
- Grand Union Canal & A411 corridor
- A414 J8 cycle bridge
- Hemel magic-roundabout cycle bridge
You can have your say here (before 17 Sept) MEMBER ACTION!!
Did you mange to take action on one of the items of our interim bulletin? Thank you! Are you too busy? Please be inspired and encouraged by this blog post - thanks to Twenty's Plenty for the link. If every member took one micro-advocacy action every now and then......
Our usual STACC newsletter will follow in due course, but here are a three things for your immediate attention. Please respond/ get involved as appropriate.
Camp 20mph - Hertfordshire County Council have launched a 'public engagement' as a forerunner to a consultation. Get your comments in:
Evidence call to convert public footpath to bridleway - Cromer Hyde
The route in question is a stretch of farmer's track which is currently designated as a footpath but has been ridden by bike and hoof for many years. It links to a byway heading North from the John Bunyan and another heading North past Symondshyde Farm and is a useful link in off-road bike rides heading North towards the Ayots and beyond. The landowner recently installed a gate at the western end which limits access, especially for horse riders who can't duck under the gate. The British Horse Spciety are gathering usage evidence to apply for conversion to bridleway and removal of the gate:
The BHS believes that this route has been used as a bridleway for so long that in law it is too late for a gate to stop the use. However, the burden of proof is on the BHS to show the council that this is the case.
To do this, we must collect statements from people who have actually used the path. The attached evidence form is a good way of collecting the answers to questions that the council needs to assess our application.
Please could you print it out, then fill it in by hand (not typed) as fully and accurately as you can, and then post it to: Phil Wadey, 12 Home Close, Newlands Road, CORSHAM SN13 0BE
I will then collate it with other forms, and make the application to the council when we have enough.
On the form you will see the route has been broken into two sections, A to B and B to C. The route A to B is the one that has recently been gated (at B), but some people claim to have used B to C as well. I am
uncertain about this so please tick the boxes only for the route(s) you have used.
Finally, if you ride the route with others, it would be great if you could pass them a copy of the form as well - numbers count!
With kind regards,
One of the BHS Hertfordshire access officers
Cottonmill Level Crossing - AbFly news:
Network Rail are currently considering the closure of the Cottonmill crossing. This is as a result of dangerous behaviour by a minority. There is a plan that the crossing will be straightened and the gates moved nearer the actual railway line so people can see trains before they pass through. The wooden edge boards each side of the crossing will also be changed to a more visible material and the gaps round the rails narrowed to make it easier for buggies.
Network Rail is planning to mount a display some time in July of possible options if the crossing is closed. If Network Rail persists in pushing for closure, it will go to Public Inquiry.
The Cottonmill Community Improvement Group on Facebook can be found via this link (you have to have a Facebook account) https://www.facebook.com/groups/150947005371232/permalink/423447298121200/
Celebrations and campaigns:
Bike Week 9 to 17 June, and our stall on St Albans Saturday market distributed maps and dispensed advice. One of the people we met currently WALKS home from St Albans to Wheathampstead, as his shift finishes after the last bus has gone. He had asked for advice on buying a bike. This illustrates the importance of inter-urban cycling links, as public transport does not always run in evenings or weekends.
Air-Quality day is 21 June and St Albans will be encouraging sensible and considerate driving, i.e. switch the engine off rather than sitting there polluting.
Alban Street Festival on 24 June, 12 - 6pm in St Peters Street is including a celebration of Hertfordshire Year of Physical Activity (HertsYOPA18). There will be a Bike Zone with stunt shows at 1pm, 3pm and 4.30pm and also drop-in try-out sessions on the bike ramp.
Bike Month - HertsYOPA18 focuses on different aspects of physical activity throughout the year and this month it is cycling. It is also #ThisGirlCan, focus sing on women, so expect to see female cyclists throughout the month, at events and on the lively HertsYOPA Twitter feed. A certain Cycle Campaign's secretary might appear at some point.
Fete du Velo Cycling Festival returns for a 5th year to the Village of Redbourn on Sunday 1st July on Redbourn Common. This community-driven festival prides itself on helping to keep the village active and it helped to take the village to the latter stages of Village of the Year 2017. There will be activities for all the family on the day. For more info please visit www.thebikeloft.co.uk
Vegetation - we again congratulate St Albans District Council on keeping the grass trimmed and dealing with a backlog of weedy / grassy encroachment on roadside paths. However, stuff grows and if vegetation needs cutting back, please report it using the Hertfordshire Highways fault reporting system. If the problem is a cycle route in a 'green space' such as the Alban Way, Nickey Line or Ayot Greenway, you can report it to St Albans District Council Greens Spaces management.
Herts County Council are to be commended for clearing vegetation from the whole of the footpath alongside the A5185 between St Albans and Redbourn. The Council is abiding by the new March 2018 NICE guidelines, where Section 1.2.4 says " Ensure footways, footpaths and cycle routes are convenient, safe and appealing to users, and are built and maintained to a high standard". The revealed width of the path does invite the question of whether it could easily be upgraded for shared-use.
Let us also hope that a similar clearing exercise is applied to the muddy overgrown track that is the existing shared-use path alongside the A1081 Harpenden / St Albans Road, especially the section between the entrances to Hawkswick Farm and Childwickbury. It would seem so - work is underway on this section.
Consultation into St Albans’ new Local Plan has now begun and lasts until 21st February.
The final document will detail all development in St Albans district from 2020 to 2036 - including nearly 15,000 new homes, 14 schools, and various new green spaces - with eight Green Belt sites already identified for housing.
The former Strategic Local Plan, which has been abandoned, made provision for about 430 new homes each year. Since then, the Government has more than doubled the number to around 900 a year.
The significant number of new developments has implications for traffic growth and consequences for cycling in the district, so you are urged to study the documents online or at a local library and make appropriate comments. Public exhibitions are being held at which queries can be addressed to Council staff.
Our winter public meeting is coming up, the topic is .... winter! Do spread the word about it and encourage people to come along.
The meeting is on Wednesday 22nd November, starting at 7.30pm at the Methodist Church Hall, Marlborough Road, St Albans AL1 3XG.
A number of suggestions for action in this one. Not least of which is look out for our Winter Public Meeting, currently in planning, some time in November, watch this space.
Cycling on air - STACC committee member Matt Turvey will be interviewed on Radio Verulam on Thursday 7 September, sometime around 10am. If you miss it, go to the Radio Verulam website and click through to 'listen again'.
Cycling to church - if you see people adorned with big yellow stickers biking or hiking on Saturday 9 September they are taking part in the Historic Churches Trust fund-raising event. If you fancy a day out touring churches - and you do get plied with tea and cake - you do not need to be a church-goer to ride, you can get all the information and links to JustGiving on the Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust 'Bike n Hike webpage.
Cycling to work - on 13 September, see below.
“What we’re about as a cycle campaign, is trying to get cycling recognised as a normal means of transport.”
John Metcalf, STACC Chair.
"I think we are very fortunate that we’ve got a very active, and very well-informed, and very reasonable local campaigning group that can really help us."
Cllr Anthony Rowlands, Chair of the Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee
We hope you enjoyed Bike Week, and continue to enjoy cycling over the summer.
Why not pedal out to enjoy one or more of the Tour of Hertfordshire series of cycling festival events?
Sunday 9 July - in Redbourn, the Fete du Velo - details here: http://thebikeloft.co.uk/fete-du-velo-2017/
Sunday 16 July - in Welwyn Garden City, le Petit Tour
Sunday 6 August - at BRE Garston, BRE Cyclefest
The events include closed road circuit racing, including fun and athletic events for kids, and plenty of food!
There is a Tour of Hertfordshire Facebook page and also a fairly basic website for more info.
Further to our AGM and excellent talk on Public Rights of Way, a report is attached for your reference.
Bike Week is nearly upon us! STACC will have a stall on the St Albans Saturday Market on 10 June, promoting cycling in the district and publicising local rides and events during Bike Week. We will have maps and leaflets to give out, and members will be on hand to give advice.
Please support STACC by telling people about the stall and by coming along and saying hello. Even better, we could do with some extra bodies to staff the stall. Could you be an active cycle campaigner for an hour? Please reply to this email saying what time you can come along. We aim to be there from 10am to 3pm. Thank you!
A listing of Bike Week cycle rides has been compiled by local cycling groups, you can view it via this link.
Transition St Albans have organised an event all about e-bikes:
In case any STACC members looking forward to the Better World Hustings have not heard, please see update from Transition St Albans given below, venue has changed.
Environmental, Social Justice and General Hustings - Questions to your St Albans Parliamentary candidates
Friday 2nd June
St Albans Cathedral
7pm doors open for 7:30pm start
Come along and hear your candidates answer questions on the environment and social justice alongside general questions. No booking required - but turn up early for the best seats!
The general Hustings event in May was cancelled due to the tragic events in Manchester and we have agreed to combine our Environmental and Social Justice Hustings with the General Hustings. We now have a very interesting two-in-one evening. We look forward to seeing you there.
Transition St Albans
A reminder that our spring Public Meeting, incorporating the STACC AGM is on Thursday 25 May, 7.30pm at Marlborough Road Methodist Church.
The public meeting is on Rights of Way for Cyclists. Our guest speaker is Phil Escritt, and he has summarised his theme as "getting the most out of the network of public rights of way".
Phil Escritt is highly regarded for his work with the St Albans Access Forum, where walking, cycling and horse-riding groups work together on access issues. In this illustrated talk he will outline the history of rights of way and explain how routes are created and protected.
Achieving rights-of-way improvements will result in more cycle routes and bridleways in town and country. The St Albans Rights of Way Improvement Plan includes many new cycle tracks but new legislation means that action is needed to make sure routes that are currently enjoyed are not lost.
It is a public meeting and will be of wide interest, the venue is large, so bring some friends.
We intend to conduct the AGM business swiftly and efficiently. The AGM is an opportunity to review our achievements since our last AGM and to look forward to future campaigning. It is an opportunity to step onto the committee, many hands make light work. STACC achieves an awful lot, but we could do more with your help as part of our committee team.