Get on your bikes and ride St Albans!

Green Party Cllr Simon Grover is campaigning for increased cycle use.

Green Party Cllr Simon Grover is campaigning for increased cycle use. - Credit: Archant

Local councils are not doing enough to encourage cycling, according to a Green party councillor who is campaigning for residents to get on their bikes.

Simon Grover is keen to see more cyclists because of its benefits to health, traffic congestion and the environment. But he insists cycling has to be made more appealing and the district council needs to have a hand in this.

Cllr Grover said: “We’ve argued for years that the district and county councils need to take cycling more seriously. Huge numbers of people have bikes but rarely use them. The main reason is they feel the streets are not built for cyclists.

“For the same reason few children cycle to school. Towns and cities that shift a bit of their road budgets into cycling, see a huge return on their investments, in terms of numbers of people cycling and numbers of trips they make.

“There are huge benefits to health, the environment and reducing congestion. The district council has an out of date cycling strategy that has lots of good ideas but no effective action plan for carrying the strategy out.”

His comments come following news that the Green Ring – an area encircling the city centre being developed to facilitate improved cycling – will not be finished until summer, when it was expected to be completed this month, after lengthy delays.

It is a continuous route, around 9km long, designed to enhance walking and cycling experiences, extending from Townsend to Fleetville and Sopwell to Verulam. Completed sections are already in use by the public.

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It was almost finished a year ago but there were problems such as the route being over common land and neighbours’ objections. The Green Ring is claimed on the district council website to be designed for “everyday and leisure” use.

But it is not enough according to Cllr Grover, who added: “Other than the Green Ring, very little is happening. In any case, it’s not enough to have a route primarily aimed at leisure use. The routes that people actually want to travel need to be converted to be cycle-friendly.”

He recently told a cycling committee that all evidence shows people would feel more confident about using their bikes, if there were more 20mph areas and protected cycle lanes.

Green candidate Keith Cotton agreed: “Safe and secure cycling is a vital element of any successful transport strategy. There’s so much great work being done in cities like ours across the UK and Europe. Our councils need to get pedaling and get up to speed.”