Encouraging people to leave cars behind and turn to walking, cycling and sustainable transport
How can we encourage more to walk and cycle?
- We need to attract people away from cars, not push them out.
- We need to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home where possible for short journeys.
- We need to make the alternative to cars more enjoyable - by creating safe routes for cyclists, and easy walking routes for pedestrians.
- We need better provision of walking and cycling routes that, wherever possible, minimise the direct contact of the different groups.
- We need routes for walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users that are accessible for all, fit for purpose and easy to use.
- We need to signpost footpaths and cycle routes better, promoting their use.
- We need to keep pedestrian and cycle paths tidy and well maintained.
- We need routes that are well-lit or benefitting from added security measures, so everyone feels safer using them in the dark or alone.
- We need secure bike parking in appropriate locations (not hideous racks misplaced in heritage sites).
A series of cycle/walking routes is being proposed by Herts County Council. However, the Council hasn't created a fully joined up network. A number of local residents have stepped up to propose solutions that we would be happy to support:
- A fantastic new route linking the Cole Green Way in the West to a potential route along the Bengeo railway cutting all the way to Hartham, where it would link with a number of other routes. Meanwhile, it could also link to a southern route via the woods near Hertford football club, and County Hall, to join with a new route along Pegs Lane.
- Quietways that run along back streets of Kingsmead so that families can travel by bike safely.
- Taking a recent scheme in London as an example, where cycle routes are being numbered and named in a similar manner to roads, to give them a more formal status and better recognition in public consciousness. Surely there would be scope to create something similar in and around our part of Hertfordshire?
- The Hertford Cycle Hub is an innovative idea but has no doubt been difficult to run during the pandemic. We would like to see this enhanced and supported to become an important feature of our newly revamped common.
- In the towns we need to work on safe cycling, and better traffic management for the long term, as well as safe spaces for pedestrians in, for example, the High Street and Baldock Street in Ware. A "shared space" arrangement with very low speed limits and priority for pedestrians, then cyclists, then cars seems sensible.
By creating properly joined up, safe and pleasant cycle/walking routes, we will increase the numbers of residents who want to try walking and cycling around our towns. This should be the Council's job, and not left to residents! We would endeavour to lead on solutions if elected to the County Council.
What could we do to support greener or more sustainable transport?
There’s a lot of work to be done around transport as the world adjusts to life post-COVID. People’s travel requirements have changed dramatically over 2020/1 with far fewer people commuting and many more working from home. There is an opportunity here to adapt to this change, providing transport solutions that will fit in with our new ways of working and new transport patterns. Green / sustainable transport has to be made easy for people to adopt and it has to be part of a wider programme of creating more liveable, sustainable communities.
Sustainable transport takes many forms, but an obvious way to make transport more sustainable is to improve public transport. If elected to Herts County Council (HCC), we would firstly push for a more rapid roll out of digital real time signage at all bus stops, to make it easier for residents to plan journeys. We must also start supporting new types of public transport, such as the on-demand bus services being trialled in places like Kent. These combine smartphone technology with a kind of taxi-service via small buses, so that you get a flexible, on-demand bus service that suits residents. We would push the Council to start funding this kind of project to change the way residents move about.
Transforming our wider bus services is more difficult, since they are privatised and Councils have no control over them, but at the very least HCC can start new partnerships with commercial bus services to create more sustainable bus transport such as an on-demand system.
Schemes which encourage people to consider the type of vehicle they are using for journeys into towns could be employed, such as differentiated parking fees, based on vehicle registration, with a higher rate for more polluting personal vehicles.
With a potential move to cleaner electric vehicles, we need to consider how we can accommodate the charging facilities required in our towns, perhaps enhanced with electric car rental points and community electric bikes for people to use, reducing the need for people to own their own vehicles going forward.