As a committed cyclist I am very keen to have safe and suitable cycle paths to allow easy cycling in the local area. I regularly cycle to work and to the University and shops and have found Welwyn and Hatfield to be fairly cycle friendly – much safer than when I lived in London. Please find the answers to your questions below:-
1. What experience do you and your family have of cycling? Do you have different concerns with younger or older family members cycling, than you would for yourself?
I have cycled my whole life, firstly to school and then to work and then with child seats as I had my family then attached cycles and now back to just me as my children have all reached adulthood. As a family we have also ridden mountain bikes off road and BMX stunt riding was my brother’s favourite as a youngster, I had a racer then. I now ride a more staid hybrid giving me versatile and safe riding. Road safety is important for everyone and although younger cyclists are less experienced and need more room if they wobble or are less aware of traffic and less confident cyclists need more space the safety concerns are for everybody.
2. What challenges do people face in Welwyn Hatfield that prevent them from cycling, especially children and those using cycling as a mobility aid, and how will you address them?
Although there are fairly comprehensive cycle paths, there are some gaps which force people to cross dangerous roads. There are also issues with fast experienced cyclists and beginners using the same paths. Cycling proficiency and cycle to school groups could be one way to encourage more children to cycle to school – safety in numbers. This would lead to more confident adult cyclists as they grow up. Just like in the Netherlands if it is easy and safe to cycle people will. There are not enough cycle racks. There isn’t even one outside my doctors surgery in Hatfield – which I have mentioned to them. Another small concern is trying to look professional after cycling in the rain!
3. Which junctions need to be improved to increase safety for people cycling, and what can be done to fix them?
In my own journey to work I find Ascots lane fairly treacherous – although really pleasant to cycle, but interestingly it feels more dangerous along Howlands where the road is painted with bikes but there is no real designated space for bikes and I find cars trying to overtake me come far too close. That needs a proper cycle lane to give bikes and cars clear areas.
The junction off the roundabout by the Airfield Pub at the end of Wellfield road is fine going left towards the galleria but needs a clear path going right as crossing the two roads to get to the other cycle path to the right is a bit tricky. It could be improved with lights even to help get across the traffic coming from the roundabout. Like the lights at the junction off the A414 coming up to Hatfield Road.
4. Do you support the completion of the Hatfield Station to Business Park cycle route and if yes, how will you ensure the missing section from The Commons to French Horn Lane is rapidly constructed?
Yes, that is a dangerous roundabout to cross and a cycle lane across the top of the town centre is completely viable. We need to lobby for funding to get it completed regardless of what is happening with the development of the town centre. It then needs to be kept in any future plans for the development of the town centre which has been neglected for far too long.
5. With road changes planned for Welwyn Garden City, how will you ensure that cycle access is improved into the Town Centre ?
Cycle lanes will need to be connected up and included in the plan for the pedestrianisation of the town centre. Covered cycle racks and more of them would be useful too. It is important that cycle lanes and pedestrian areas are clearly defined as fast bikes are a hazard for pedestrians. Lobbying to ensure that cycle access is carefully incorporated into the plans. The consultation is in the summer so this needs to be voiced in the responses.
I hope this covers your queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need anything else. I am keen to improve cycle use and access.
Christianne, Welwyn Hatfield Green Party Candidate