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Green Party response to Cycling UK Stevenage

North Herts and Stevenage Green Party have been approached by Tina Walker, Chair of Cycling UK Stevenage to give answers to 3 questions about cycling in Stevenage.

We feel that it is important that there is greater public participation in local politics and feel that these are issues to put before the widest possible audience.

To this end we have put together a joint response from the Green Party candidates standing in the Stevenage Borough Council elections.Question 1
Recent census data shows that over 20% of households in Stevenage do not have a car or van. In some areas closest to the Town Centre this percentage is considerably higher. What would you do to ensure that cycling is a feasible choice for everyday journeys in Stevenage?

Whilst one of Stevenage’s strengths is its cycling network, as cyclists ourselves, we are keenly aware of some of the inadequacies and barriers to people changing their mode of transport to a bicycle. The council needs to consult with people who are not cycling currently to find out what changes would be needed to get more of them to cycle rather than use their car.

One of the greatest barriers to cycling is because of feeling safe, even with our cycleway network in Stevenage there are areas where a cyclist must cycle on the road to get to their destination. One responsibility therefore lies with other road users, we must all be considerate of each other and take on board the new Hierarchy of Responsibility in the Highway Code. We need to Share with Care. We would advocate for Stevenage Borough Council to promote the concept of Share with Care to all. We generally have one view of anti-social behaviour, being inconsiderate to other road users is another aspect of anti-social behaviour.

Another key barrier is the security of the bicycle when it is not being used. We need secure cycle parking at home, where we work (which may be the same place!), at train stations and bus stops, at schools, at hospitals and health centres, where we shop and where we go for leisure. We would liaise with supermarkets and other destinations to increase their cycling parking provision and ensure that it is more visible and accessible for people to use. As Green Councillors we would facilitate different kinds of cycle parking, all of it easy for the user to use. In Stevenage there is a need for more standalone Sheffield stands which are the easiest to use form of cycle parking, but there is also a need for covered parking and fully secure parking. It would be useful if there was parking where not only our bicycle was secure but also any shopping or equipment that is attached to the bike is also secure, this might be individual cycle lockers or a staffed cycle park.

We have many miles of cycleway in Stevenage, but it is not well looked after. There should be an ongoing investment in the cleaning and clearance of the cycleways so that people who wish to cycle have the confidence that their route will be clear. During last season’s icy and snowy weather, cycle paths were not gritted and snow not cleared. Cyclists who lack the confidence to share highways with motorists could easily be deterred from using their bikes and jump into their cars instead.

We need to improve the road markings in line with the changes to the Highway Code, especially where cycle-paths intersect with roads. This is especially important where a cyclist may choose to avoid a subway and use the road crossing due to the increase in gradient caused by the subway.

Stevenage Borough Council produced a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) in 2019. As Green Party councillors, we would work with SBC to ensure the recommendations of the plan are fully accepted, an implementation plan with timeline agreed and action taken to secure funding.Question 2
Stevenage Borough Council have had cycle hangars for use in residential areas available since 2021 but only 2 are in place so far. What would you do to ensure that more cycle hangars are installed to allow people to store cycles securely near their homes?

Cycle hangars are needed and should be visible so that people can see them in use. Green Councillors would ensure that Stevenage Borough Council install Cycle Hangars for the use of people who live in council owned flats. We then need the council to engage with other property owners to get cycle hangars installed in other areas of the town for people living in flats. Too often we can see bicycles on balconies high above us, getting them there may be easy if you are able bodied and have a lightweight bike, but not if you have a child seat on a robust bike. Green Councillors would enable more people to cycle by ensuring that secure, easy to use cycle parking is provided around Stevenage, cycle hangars are one piece in the answer to this problem.Question 3
Stevenage Borough Council is our planning authority. How will you ensure that decisions taken are in line with national guidance on the promotion of active travel?

The Stevenage Local Plan is being reviewed in 2023. Active Travel guidance needs to be incorporated into the Local Plan to ensure that all future development is designed to the highest Active Travel standards. We would also press for all developments under planning to be looked at with the new guidance retrospectively so that they also are constructed to the new standards. All new developments must offer active travel infrastructure properly integrated with the existing networks of cycleways and footpaths. When a development is built, the developer must provide funds for local infrastructure, we would press for this to be spent before the development is occupied.

North Herts and Stevenage Green Party