Summer 2019 seems another world. We did our annual start of year litter pick on the Alban Way focussed on the section next to the Galleria which is a regular location for fly tipping and street drinking. The 2020 litter pick was in late March, so in the same reporting year. A record 60 bags were cleared, again from the Galleria section, and we were joined by two Latter Day Saints for an hour who have to be the best dressed pickers ever. This was the last event we were able to run, the next weekend being the start of the Covid19 lockdown.
In June 2019, We ran a curiously named Comet 70th Anniversary ride which, despite local publicity by the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, was the Chair leading a single woman rider the length of the Alban Way and back. Nothing remarkable you might think except this was the longest ride she’d done and had never any idea she would be able to do it. A very worth while trip.
We ran our usual stalls at the Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City (WGC) Health Fests and the Welwyn Village day. The key requests are for the printed maps, now in short supply, and questions from parents about safe cycle routes to school, with us encouraging them to ask their councillors.
The only new cycle route for last year was the short section at Mount Pleasant, Hatfield. It gets bikes off an A414 slip road but doesn’t connect to Tesco’s or The Ryde School, as we pointed out when consulted on the plans.
Later in the year we spent time planning the events for the Welwyn Garden City Centenary due in 2020. Roger Moulding came up with a circular cycle ride following the centenary walking route and we devised a wider programme of rides to and from WGC for the 2020 season. At the time of writing all of this is postponed to 2021. Roger also bid successfully for money to get the Welwyn Hatfield Activity Map, which includes cycling, updated as a handout for our 2020 stalls.
Over the winter we had a big job commenting on the South Central Hertfordshire Growth and Travel Plan. The plan is hugely ambitious, featuring a St Albans to WGC cycle path parallel with Coopers Green Lane and the extension of the Bessemer Way route to Welwyn and Oaklands. We had a long February meeting to work through our response and were very pleased to be joined by Councillor Nigel Quinton, who is a keen cyclist and very supportive of our work. However, like most local authorities, Hertfordshire is very tight for money and relies on development and developer contributions for cycle lanes as capital projects. We will keep lobbying to see these plans turn into tarmac on the ground.
At the same time the Chair was also involved in campaigning by most cycle groups across the county to get a cycle route at Sacombe on the realigned A602. Working with Jon Crosby of Cycling UK South Herts, an objection to a Side Roads Order suddenly had Hertfordshire County planner very keen to fit in a cycle route lest an enquiry delay the whole project. A result! We can look forward to a good quality link from Hertford to Bennington Lordship later next year.
At the same time as the Chair was busy collating pages and pages of comments, Chris Whitehouse and Ian Gregory took to the Alban Way with their hand crafted Root-O-Meter and recorded the height of every tree root lump from Wrestler’s Bridge to the St Albans Boundary. Every location was logged with GPS and the results sent to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council who own the route. Success followed with the whole route now marked up with lines for where all repairs are needed. We are hoping with the easing of the Lockdown, actual repairs will be in the 2021 report.
My thanks as always go to the doughty core members of the group, Roger Moulding, David Dixon, Ian Gregory and Chris Whitehouse, who continue to run things and for that I am very grateful. With bike sales booming in 2020 we hope to see many of those people on our rides when we resume them in 2021.