Petition for safer A5183 in Redbourn presented to county council
PUBLISHED: 12:33 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:33 24 July 2020
More than 1,800 people have backed a petition calling for a safe route for cyclists, runners and pedestrians alongside the “hazardous” A5183 in Redbourn.
The existing road is said to have become ‘extremely hazardous’ and ‘often dangerous’ over the last few years, and on Tuesday, cycle shop owner Simon Barnes presented the petition to councillors.
The petition points to ‘several’ cycling fatalities on the stretch of road, and says the existing footpath is poorly maintained and “not inviting for cyclists”.
It calls for a ‘safe route’ for cyclists, runners and walkers along the road. The safe route would link to the Nickey Line, which connects Hemel Hempstead and Harpenden, with other existing routes to St Albans.
Mr Barnes – who has lived in Redbourn for 17 years and now runs a cafe and cycle shop – told councillors there was a need to capitalise on the recent resurgence of cycling.
He said that in his many decades involved in cycling he had never seen such a big and rapid increase in cycling as he had brought about by COVID-19.
“No safe route exists to St Albans, apart from the ‘death-trap that is the former A5 between St Albans and Redbourn,” he said.
According to Mr Barnes a pop-up, temporary or permanent cycle lane – which he said would meet the criteria that the government’s emergency active travel fund – would improve the route.
“Previous road traffic calming measures have been challenging on this dangerous piece of road, with 18 deaths and nearly 50 major accidents recently,” he continued.
“A cycle lane that narrows the existing road space will, by default, improve concentration and speed compliance.”
At the meeting of the full council the petition was accepted by executive member for highways and the environment Cllr Phil Bibby.
Cllr Bibby said the council was fully aware of the challenges on this stretch of road between Redbourn and St Albans, which “has a chequered accident history”.
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He said it was recognised that this would not be considered as a viable route by anyone other than confident users.
He added that a number of changes had been made to the route over the past 15 years – but challenges remained – and funding from the Emergency Active Travel fund was a great opportunity to address the issues.
Cllr Bibby said cycling groups, district and county councillors had been consulted, and now more than 100 schemes would be put in to priority order.
“Unfortunately it will not be possible to deliver all these projects within the funding budget and timescale,” he said.
“Though I would like to assure you that the A5183 will be given due consideration – and we are conscious of the massive local support.
“There are clearly difficulties in delivering a cycle route along the A5183, but equally significant benefits to those cycling and the adjacent walking network if it can be achieved.”
Meanwhile Liberal Democrat Cllr Chris White – who is also leader of St Albans District Council – said it was vital to have modal shift.
He said there would be snags and that it would never be straight forward to put in a cycle lane because you are depriving another road user of space.
But after highlighting its past as a three-lane highway, he said: “If this is not the right time I don’t know when there is – because traffic is lighter and I think the public will to get some benefit out of the COVID emergency has never been higher.”
Labour Cllr Dreda Gordon welcomed the petition and said: “If this isn’t a scheme that’s going to be prioritised from this particular pot of money then I think we need to be looking at other measures.
“These must be put in place in order to make that a safer route for cyclists – either with a dedicated cycle path way or to make the road a great deal safer than it is now.”
The petition was supported by county councillor Annie Brewster at its inception in June.
At the time, she said: “It is absolutely fabulous to see so many people out on bikes in our district but we need many more safe connective routes, particularly as vehicular traffic starts to return.”
The petition will now be referred to officers for consideration and report to the local councillor and political group spokesman.
To view the petition, go to you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-lives-support-campaign-for-cycle-pedestrian-route-along-redbourn-road.
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