Widen my Path, new Hunters Bridge & Hill Top cycle lanes, Ayot Greenway plans and other summer news

By | 2nd September 2020

Widen my Path

Widen my Path is a website where pedestrians and people who cycle can log local issues of concern. Local councillors can use it to see concerns in their local areas and residents can up vote the issues of most concern. Hertfordshire have used this to inform their bid for government funding (the Tranche 2 bids which went in on 7th August 2020) but councillors can also use this as a source of good ideas for locality budget spending.

This link will show you all the comments for Welwyn Hatfield. There are lots as you can see here:

Excerpt from Widen my Path map showing requests for Welwyn Hatfield
Widen my Street requests for Welwyn Hatfield

We’d like you to support the WelHatCycling top five routes:

  1. Bessemer Road (end of existing cycle path) to Welwyn and then on from Welwyn to Oaklands:
    • How?  Convert one lane of the A1000 to two way cycling where no off-road cycle route exists.  Extend route along the Welwyn by-pass and then reduce the width of the B197 to add in a cycle lane to Oaklands.
    • Enables workers to cycle to Mundells, Shire Park and WHBC offices (via Lyles Bridge).
    • Safe route to Monks Walk School when it reopens, reducing the school run. (Much requested by parents in Oaklands who have no safe walking or cycling route for their children.)
  2. Hatfield town centre from French Horn Lane to Wellfield Road:
    • How?  Create a continuous off-road route across the north east end of the town centre with a temporary crossing of Queensway by the No1 Hatfield development site.  The town centre can be easily crossed along the former road alignment. (As discussed with Grant Shapps in 2015, we are aware a permanent route will be constructed by 2022(?), but the need is now, not in two years time.)
    • Enables cycling from Hatfield Station to Business Park.
    • Enables safe cycling from Hatfield Garden Village and Birchwood to the station and Onlsow School.
  3. Hunters Bridge and The Campus
    • How? Use one lane of Hunters Bridge to link the cycle path on Broadwater Road to Waitrose, the WHBC offices, Oaklands College, Campus West and WGC town centre.
    • Enables cycling to WHBC offices, so WHBC staff can lead by example.
    • Safer access to the town centre from east WGC.
    • Student access to Oaklands College when it reopens.
  4. Bishops Rise, Hatfield
    • How? A cycle route direct from Hill Top to the Galleria, to connect to existing routes to the Business Park and University.
    • Safe cycle route for workers to cycle to the Business Park.
    • Links to Woods Ave cycle path to encourage cycling to schools along that road when schools reopen.
  5. Welwyn Garden City town centre north south route
    • How?  Install the north south cycle lane planned for Stonehills and link to Hunters Bridge (3 above) as alternative route to Parkway which has no cycle path.
    • Safer access to WGC Station and supermarkets.
    • Safer route from south WGC to WHBC offices.

Hunters Bridge pop up cycle lane

For Tranche 1 of the government funding Hertfordshire put in for just 3 km of pop up cycle lanes (yes, just 3km for the whole county!) although to be fair there were strict rules on the speed of delivery so maybe this is all that HCC felt was possible. Part of the 3km is the pop up lane over Hunters Bridge in Welwyn Garden City featured in a recent Welwyn Hatfield Times, sadly framed as a stale cyclists v drivers conflict in the printed edition.

The new route improves the junction with Broadwater Road by providing a much wider central island, vital at lights with no pedestian or cyclist phase. Over the bridge one lane on each side of the road has become cyclists only with bollards.

Hunters Bridge cycle lane with blue bollards looking west where the path ends oppoiste Waitrose.
Hunter Bridge cycle route west end

The biggest issue with this new route is it ends just where cycling becomes the most challenging on the approach to the town centre. Let’s imagine a mum with young children in a trailer cycling into town along the new cycle lane. At the Waitrose toucan crossing the path ends. What does she do next? Carry on onto the roundabout and mix it with cars and buses to get round to the shops? Cycle round The Campus on road to get to the Library? Or get off and push on the pavements, where her bicycle and trailer will then be an obstruction to pedestrians? Or simply decide it’s too hard and take the car?

We know HCC plan for this cycle route to go right across WGC from east to west connecting properly with the town centre and Campus West. The problem with this pop up route is it doesn’t do this. We worry use will therefore be limited and we will soon be hearing that as no one used it, it’s not needed. Planners need to remember that an absence of swimmers in a shark infested sea does not mean people don’t want to swim. For families on bicycles, the roundabouts and gyratories in WGC are shark infested and that needs to be addressed.

Hill Top, Hatfield, cycle lane

High View, the street which passes behind the Hill Top shops between Bishops Rise and Northdown Avenue in South Hatfield, is being made one way southbound. WelHatCycling objected to this plan as it made no provision for cycling the other way along the road and would have forced cyclists to ride a long extra route along Bishops Rise (buses, cars and no off road cycle path) to loop round to get into this new one way section.

The county planners are (prompted by our objection) now suggesting a contraflow cycle lane, but there are issues of space and whether it can be safely used with cars parking along the road and HGVs doing deliveries. Any contraflow cyclelane will come towards the camera in this picture, so between the road and the yet to be built new shops.

High View, Hill Top, Hatfield looking south showing where any contraflow cycle lane would be between traffic and shops.
High View looking south – one way will be away from the camera

Our hope is that in future the planners might design this sort of provision in from the start, conforming with the new government guidance in LTN 1/20.

Ayot Green Way action plan

There is a new Greenspaces Action Plan out with a five year plan to improve this popular cycling and walking route. WelHatCycling were consulted on this and we are very pleased to see a number of actions we asked for are now in the plans. These include:

  • Removing the gates on the path into Wheathampstead as they are not needed for livestock control and are a barrier to disabled user and families with bike trailers.
  • Works to improve the hair pin turn on to this path off Sheepcote Lane.
  • Exploring a possible link at Digswell Road (The White Bridge) although we’d like to see the cycle route carry on around the rear of Oaklands College (student access) and then via the WHBC car park to the cycle route to Shirepark.
  • Much needed work to restore the surface of the route over three years including work to improve drainage. A smooth ride to Charlie’s for tea and cake will be possible in 2025!
A group cycle ride along the Ayot Greenway led by Roger Moulding.
Ayot Green Way – families on bicycles

We’re also pleased to see that the need for this route to go onto Harpenden is noted, but of course this would require a change of heart by a local landowner for this to happen.

Meetings

Anyone is very welcome to join our committee meetings to find out more about what we do and to help with all the tasks we have to do. As we are meeting on Zoom, please contact us for the link if you are interested.