Keep us involved says St Albans cycling action group

St Albans Cycling Campaign members, from left, John Metcalf, Mike Hartley and Rona Wightman (front r

St Albans Cycling Campaign members, from left, John Metcalf, Mike Hartley and Rona Wightman (front right) with St Albans MP Anne Main, have asked councils to allow the group more input on cycling and pedestrian needs when considering schemes. - Credit: Debbie White/Archant

Cyclists in St Albans want to be more than an “afterthought” when new major developments are being considered for approval.

Backed by St Albans MP Anne Main, campaigners are calling upon local authorities to consult with them on schemes so pedestrian and cycling needs are taken into account.

Mrs Main recently wrote to Herts county council (HCC), asking for more engagement with St Albans Cycle Campaign (STACC) on major schemes, to help refine or improve plans to better suit cyclists and pedestrians.

She said: “The group feels that the King Harry [Lane housing] development did not have a coherent approach on provisions for cyclists and pedestrians despite the site’s aims to have low car usage.

“In this particular example the group highlights that a strong enough case was not made to the developer to use Section 106 monies to improve the situation for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Mrs Main said she had “huge sympathy” for the campaign group and hoped HCC and St Albans district council sought STACC’s views on such developments in future.

Campaigner Rona Wightman said: “Time and time again, cycling and walking needs seem to be an afterthought. We are routinely left out of the loop.”

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She said the King Harry development had failed to provide a link to St Albans’ cycling network.

STACC committee member Mike Hartley added: “We don’t have a ‘cycling czar’ who can go and sort it out at both district and county council.”

He said the group believed that early input from local cyclists familiar with St Albans’ roads was, crucial to avoid mistakes and get cycle-friendly designs which will encourage people to ride bikes in the city.

Mike said the Government had recently called upon local authorities to, “up their game in delivering infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage”.

A spokesman for HCC said the council would be happy to liaise with STACC where appropriate, “but cannot provide resources to engage with them on all planning application consultations.

“Our highways department is a statutory consultee on most applications and needs to respond within the deadlines outlined in the application response process, which is normally 21 days.”

He added that the district council, may add STACC to its list of external bodies to consult when a cycling or pedestrian element is included in the application.

HCC consults campaigners when developing urban transport plan projects in St Albans, which are used to negotiate Section 106 funds for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.