Abysmal record

PUBLISHED: 12:16 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:57 06 May 2010

SIR, — Hallelujah! Roma Mills, St Albans District Councillor and Labour Parliamentary candidate has seen the light and is to champion the cause of cycling in our fair city and district and will urge our council to put in a bid to be one of 10 towns which

SIR, - Hallelujah! Roma Mills, St Albans District Councillor and Labour Parliamentary candidate has seen the light and is to champion the cause of cycling in our fair city and district and will urge our council to put in a bid to be one of 10 towns which will get millions of pounds of extra investment to encourage residents to use cycles instead of cars. As a LibDem district councillor, I too am strongly in favour.

Unfortunately it is going to be very difficult for St Albans to compete because until recently we have had an abysmal record in encouraging the use of cycles. Watford is the favourite to win the bid for Herts because they took cycling seriously years ago and have a fine record in introducing real cycling measures. But I believe we could be in with a chance to win if we show real determination to change our sorry attitude to cycling.

St Albans district is ideal for cycle commuting and for getting our kids safely to school. The very professional St Albans Cycling Campaign has battled for years to improve cycling conditions in the district and is well placed to advise our officers on how to frame the bid.

One quick, simple and very symbolic thing our council needs to do is to allow cycling through Verulamium Park from Abbey Mill Lane to King Harry Lane and Westminster Lodge sports centre. This is key for five of our schools' Safe Routes to School travel plans. The headmaster of St Albans School has consistently been a strong supporter of this simple measure. Those who have repeatedly over the years blocked efforts to allow our kids to safely cycle to school through the park should be ashamed of themselves. In Odense, our Danish twin city which is bigger and busier than St Albans, 81 per cent of all children cycle to school.

Some years ago when this was debated in a council committee meeting, the three Labour councillors on the committee voted for the LibDem motion to allow cycling through the park. Two of them are no longer councillors but one, Chris Flynn still is. At a subsequent meeting, the then leader of the Labour group Malcolm McMillan overturned his own members' decision and voted with the Tories to block cycling through the park for purely political reasons.

Hopefully both Labour and the Tories have moved on since those reactionary days and are keen to reduce traffic congestion and pollution. As a friend of Roma, although of different political complexion, I was delighted at her ardent support for the cycling bid but was puzzled by her uncharacteristic coy answer to your reporter's question regarding her position on cycling through the park.

So Roma, using these columns, will you as leader of the Labour Group support cycling through Verulamium Park or not? If you do not, it is pointless urging our council to go for the bid and waste officers' time and money in preparing a bid we would not have a hope of winning. In sustainable transport circles, St Albans has the worst record on cycling initiatives in Herts; we must change that if we want to win.

JACK PIA,

Spencer Street, St Albans.

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