Use what we have

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

SIR, — You report (Herts Advertiser, January 31) that St Albans is in a bid to become a Cycling Demonstration City. I wonder at this, bearing in mind the nature of the city s topography. One would indeed need to be more than just fit to tackle Holywell

SIR, - You report (Herts Advertiser, January 31) that St Albans is in a bid to become a Cycling Demonstration City. I wonder at this, bearing in mind the nature of the city's topography. One would indeed need to be more than just "fit" to tackle Holywell Hill. There are of course many routes less demanding - the Alban Way being one of them as it was designed for rail traffic and of easy gradient - and I always use a bike for trips into town and the school run. It ought also to be recognised that not every trip by car can be replaced by bike; the school run with accompanying infant(s), the weekly shopping trip, or visit to a clinic.

While campaigners for safer cycling may applaud the bid, the most advantageous goal must surely be in rider training for as was demonstrated in the abandoned St Peter's Street cycle lane, such segregation amid traffic can lead to resentment, frustration, and danger. As to clearer signage for cyclists, a plethora of signs are of no consequence to locals who well know their favoured routes already. Bicycle paths are an additional expense to council maintenance bills over that already expended on roads which cyclists can use, and no-one needs to be reminded by a sign on a pole every 100 yards that they are on a cycle path/footpath (Highfield Park Drive), yet the cyclist directly contributes nothing to their construction or maintenance. One must pay to enter Center Parcs to use their cycle ways; perhaps Verulamium Park might follow.

One disadvantage to all road users and a danger to cyclists is the council's insistence on erecting centre bollards in roads and pavement build-outs at crossings. These create pinch points that some motorised users do not immediately recognise, place pedestrians closer to passing vehicles and intimidate some cyclists into taking to footways.

With the ever-increasing illegal use of bicycles ridden on pavements (Section 72 Highways Act 1835), any further encouragement to ride where young families and the elderly expect refuge from traffic, can only lead to problems including injury and even death. The required facilities for cycling are there - roads. Seemingly it is education on their use that is lacking most. I would rue the day cyclists were made to pay for venturing forth for using an economic, energetic and healthy form of transport, but look forward to an enlightened cycling attitude as part of our national choice in mobility - and one which integrates with and is respected by all forms of road traffic, as it once was.

Possibly such a cycling-city bid from the council is prompted only by a bait of cash, and perhaps cycling campaigners might be better served by encouraging responsible use of that which exists instead of asking for more for them alone.

DEREK REYNOLDS,

Woodland Drive, St Albans.

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