Last year a local resident, Tim, prepared the following regarding a Quietway for Kingsmead and Castle wards. His survey is still open but what do you think? Should we be including this type of proposal in our Neighbourhood Plan?
The ‘Hertford East Quietway’
Dear East Enders. May I share, as a local resident and urban designer, an idea to improve our environment?
This ‘Quietway ‘proposal would be feasible, cost effective and bring a range of benefits. It accords with the need to take action on climate change (Transport being the main contributor to UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions) and accords with local planning policies to promote active travel.
It would require the local authority and councillors to take action, but if residents are clear that it’s a change they would like to see’ then it should go ahead. The benefits include
• Less traffic, fumes and cleaner air to breathe
• Reduced disturbance and noise pollution
• Improved sense of safety for all including children and elderly
• Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
• Better health and a choice to enjoy walking, cycling
• More social contact in a calmer environment.
• An encouragement to leave the car and reduce parking problems in the town centre
• Improved street scene with space for landscaping, seating, play space etc
Above. Proposed route of Hertford East Quietway with potential points of road closure
The proposal is to test ideas for closures at four possible points (see map). There would be constraints on car use, but all residents would be able to walk and cycle more confidently and enjoy an improved street environment. For those regularly cycling or walking to Hertford East station, the Town Centre or to Hartham Common the benefits would be immediately apparent.
The residential back roads, north of Ware Road, have increasingly become a ‘rat run’ at peak hours as people use it to avoid traffic congestion and queuing on the A119 Ware Road. It is not a big time saving but there is always a minority who will impatiently drive through and this impacts adversely on everyone else.
The Quietway is already signed as a priority cyclist route, but nothing in the street design particularly supports this aside from the signage. The route is quite well used by people to walk and cycle to town, for children going to school and for commuters or travellers going to the station.
As a regular cyclist in Hertford over the last 30 years I personally have had four hazardous or threatening incidents caused by aggressive driving. Three of these four incidents have been on the back roads between Hertford East station and my home in Tamworth Road during the rush hour.
1. Car forced past me in Talbot Street hitting bike handlebar and nearly throwing me off the bike.
2. Car revving threateningly behind me in Talbot Street and caused me to pull off the road.
3. In May 2016. A ‘hit and run’. Head on collision in Railway Street. This knocked me out temporarily and I was hospitalised with facial fractures, stitches above my eye and lost a tooth. The bike was written off. Whatever happened I never found out and no one came forward.
I also cycle along Ware Road at times, but have not experienced any incidents there, presumably as it is not subject of the ‘rat running’ mentality and the roads are wider. In spite of these accidents I enjoy cycling and will continue to do so for lots of good reasons.
There are many precedents for carrying out this kind of closure not just in big cities and internationally but also here in Hertford.
Rowleys Road –Existing Closure Point ECP, a non-vehicle link for walkers and cyclists between Cromwell Road and Tamworth Road
I’m quite sure nobody at Port Vale or Rowleys Road would wish to see the established closures re-opened for through traffic. In fact they would probably be horrified. They show how beneficial the limited closure of the route to vehicles would be to people. The technical term for this kind of action by the way is ‘filtered permeability’ or ‘modal filters’.
Herts County Council as the local highway authority is seeking ideas for Hertford to be a Sustainable Travel Town. A Quietway is the kind of proposal which would support its objectives to promote walking and cycling.
So, there should be no problem with finding the funds to carry out the works.
We know we need to act on Climate Change too. Local changes like this, can reduce our use of fossil fuels and go ‘low carbon’ but can also improve our quality of life. It’s a win win !
The Government in its election manifesto (page 29) said it will support cycling commuter routes, work with the NHS to encourage cycling for good health and create a £350m Cycling Infrastructure Fund.
A Hertford East Quietway, it could just as well be called a ‘Greenway’, may bring opportunities for better public spaces, landscaping , new rest areas, even play or gardening. It can be about much more than just restricting cars but actually about redesigning the street and boosting community life.
Mini Holland. Waltham Forest Below is a link to one of the many articles written about the award-winning work for Mini Holland in Waltham Forest, London where a much larger scheme of this nature was carried out. It involved significant spending beyond a few road closures. Residents and local businesses found it worked well (although some shopkeepers opposed and feared a loss of trade)
I hope the residents in Hertford East will support this idea, but whatever you think, please visit this link to give your views. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/R88PXK3 This short survey will be a test of local opinion. You will asked to give your name and postcode; whether you support the principle of the Hertford East Quietway and then to comment on each of the various possible places where roads may be closed.
There is space for general comment. If the support if there is, as I hope, it should make the difference. The results will be shared with the local Councils and Councillors for them to take action.
If you have any other ideas to promote walking and cycling in the town these can be sent to Herts County Council at this email address LTP@hertfordshire.gov.uk .