Warning over muggings on St Albans cyclepath

CYCLISTS using the Alban Way have voiced concerns about the condition of the cycle path after a man was mugged while travelling along there.

The 35 year old suffered minor injuries after the attack on January 9, when a group of men assaulted him and took his belongings. He had been travelling down the Alban Way at around 7pm when he was stopped by the four men near to Orient Close.

While incidents like the mugging are rare, concerns that the Alban Way is being neglected by the council have been voiced by those who use the path.

The chair of St Albans Cycling Campaign, Stephen Wragg, said that the maintenance of the Alban Way had been “very inadequate for years”. He maintained the trees had been allowed to grow far too tall and form a canopy overhead which has led to certain areas of the path becoming very dark and “menacing”.

He went on: “This is particularly an issue on the urban sections in deep cuttings, such as where the attack took place.

“What has the potential of being a wonderful green corridor running through the heart of St Albans has been allowed to become, through neglect, a gloomy wasteland.”

Mike Hartley, a keen cyclist, said that while the path wasn’t currently a dangerous place, the lack of lighting and the opportunities that provided for criminals, made him wary of using the route in the dark.

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He said: “It’s just one of the many issues facing cyclists in St Albans and it’s time that the council was consistent with its approach to provide cyclists with better routes that link up and provide people with a real alternative to using the car.”

Richard Shwe, head of culture and community development at St Albans District Council, said the council managed the path as a green space and tried to preserve the natural environment by keeping street lighting to a minimum, as was in keeping with many cycle routes across the national cycle network.

He said: “The council undertakes regular litter picking, the collection of fly tipping, grass cutting and the management of woodland along the Alban Way. It also cuts back vegetation from the path throughout the year in order to ensure that there is an open aspect along the route and clear sight lines.

“Repair work is carried out to the path surface as and when required along the route.

“We are currently putting together a long-term management plan that will identify actions and improvements to be made to the Alban Way over the next four to five years. Funding for the improvement work is actively being sought.”

Mr Shwe urged anyone with concerns about safety along the path to contact the council’s community safety team on 01727 819305 or the police’s non-emergency number on 0845 3300222.