Driver seen using path instead of going around new cycle system in Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 16:20 13 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:20 13 November 2020

This is a screenshot from a video given to the WHT, which shows someone driving through the pedestrian path on Link Drive. The first image is of the driver heading up to the road block, then moving to the path (second image) and then coming out the other side (third image). Picture: Supplied

This is a screenshot from a video given to the WHT, which shows someone driving through the pedestrian path on Link Drive. The first image is of the driver heading up to the road block, then moving to the path (second image) and then coming out the other side (third image). Picture: Supplied

Archant

A driver has been seen using a path instead of going around a one-way system in Hatfield, a video sent to the WHT has revealed.

A car has also parked at the new bollards splitting Link Drive to block through traffic and create a safer road space outside Onslow St Audrey's School. Picture: Adam Edwards.A car has also parked at the new bollards splitting Link Drive to block through traffic and create a safer road space outside Onslow St Audrey's School. Picture: Adam Edwards.

After Hertfordshire County Council began closing Link Drive, underneath the pedestrian footbridge, to prevent vehicles using it as a through road, some have ignored the closure to use a path instead.

The plan is for cyclists and pedestrians to be able to access the road throughout but vehicle access is to be maintained through either Old Rectory Drive or the Queensway roundabout.

The idea behind this scheme and others like Hunters Bridge and Digswell Park Road is to create a safe route for cycling and walking, while reducing the use of these roads as ‘rat-runs’ thereby calming traffic locally.

A mini-Holland scheme of active travel from 2016 to 2019 in outer London has already shown that people became less likely to own a car and traffic has reduced through low-traffic neighbourhood (LTNs) such as the types of measures implemented in Welwyn Hatfield.

Works have begun on Link Drive to close it off for some traffic. Picture: Adam LawWorks have begun on Link Drive to close it off for some traffic. Picture: Adam Law

However these plans, which are subject to review, have come under fire from Welwyn Hatfield Labour.

Its leader Cllr Kieran Thorpe, who presents Hatfield South West, said: “These plans assume they will encourage cyclists to use dangerously busy roads but will drastically add school time traffic on an already congested main road.

“It’s not too late to stop this madness and spend the money sensibly elsewhere where it can make a positive difference.“

Labour deputy leader Cllr Glyn Hayes, Hatfield Central, said: “They remove the main route to homes of hundreds of people and will cause chaos for pupils and parents of Onslow St Audreys.

Works have begun on Link Drive to close it off for some traffic. Picture: Adam LawWorks have begun on Link Drive to close it off for some traffic. Picture: Adam Law

“Worse still is the barrier to emergency service vehicles, should there be an emergency at school pick up/drop off time this will put local people at risk. The prospect of Government funding [from the Department of Transport’s Emergency Active Travel Fund] has led to a complete lack of common sense here.”

READ MORE: Grant Shapps blamed for ‘daft schemes’ like Hunters Bridge cycle way by Herts county councillor

The government has said to councils that “measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect”.

And the county councillor, who gave the go-ahead for these plans, Susie Gordon, confirmed she did not have much time to approve them.

Works have begun on Link Drive to close it off for some traffic. Picture: Adam LawWorks have begun on Link Drive to close it off for some traffic. Picture: Adam Law

“It was a challenge to get this done,” Cllr Gordon representing Hatfield East, told the WHT. “There was a lot of debate [at HCC] and we really didn’t know if we would get it done in time.”

“It’s a thoroughly good thing to encourage walking and cycling and the idea is to encourage fewer to drop off their children at school.

“I’m encouraged, excited and I hope people will use it and see. If it’s not a good idea we’ll take it out.”

The conservative councillor, and vice-chair of HCC, also dismissed the idea that its “dangerous” by saying: “HCC never compromises on safety and emergency services have been informed.”

Works have begun on Link Drive to close it off for some traffic. Picture: Adam LawWorks have begun on Link Drive to close it off for some traffic. Picture: Adam Law

She added: “As with all HCC Highway schemes rigorous safety Audits are carried out

“Everything HCC undertakes has rigorous risk assessments, this scheme is no exception.

“More specifically, all emergency services have a standard key to the bollards, this is a commonplace arrangement throughout the UK. There is not a specific key for specific sets of bollards. Emergency services have these keys on them at all times so they will not be impeded.

“In addition the emergency services have been notified of the point closure and will know to access residences/businesses on Link Drive through the Old Rectory Drive end thereby ensuring there is no delay.”

The existing cycle path on Queensway will also be enhanced with the installation of bollards and new wayfinding signs will be added, with an improved crossing point provided in Woods Avenue, and white lines repainted.

And this measure has been welcomed by Welhat Cycling’s Adam Edwards, who has long campaigned to fix the issues around Queensway roundabout – which make it really dangerous for cyclists.

“As far as I know they are adding bollards to an existing cycle lane on Queensway to protect people cycling from drivers cutting across them. I’m not aware of any new cycle lanes being created where none exist now,” Mr Edwards, who did try to become a Lib Dem councillor, said.

“There’s also bollards going in on Link Drive to create a safer and slower road outside Onslow St Audrey’s School. As far as I am concerned, making roads outside schools safer for children is a very good thing.”

And Hatfield North Labour county councillor Margaret Eames-Petersen, who does not represent the ward where the cycle path is but hopes as mayor of Hatfield to increase sustainable travel, explained that she does not agree with this cycle path but does want more of them in the town.

“We do really need investment in cycle paths and joining the ones we have up,” Cllr Eames-Petersen said. “I was trying to get money for Welfield Road but [HCC] are not giving money to the right paths.”

Onslow St Audrey’s was contacted ahead of publication to get their view but have not replied to the WHT and Breaks Manor, a youth centre, – who need access to the road so they can work in the area – declined to comment but have not been consulted.

If you want to comment on the cycle path enhancement please go here: hertfordshire.gov.uk/about-the-council/news/news-archive/coronavirus-temporary-cycle-lanes.


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