Plans to get Dacorum residents out of their cars and more active will go to public consultation
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PLANS designed to get more Hertfordshire residents out of their cars – by making their shorter journeys on foot or by bike – are to go out to public consultation.
Trials of ‘cargo bikes’, ‘quiet lanes’ and ‘healthy villages’ – as well as safer access to schools by foot and by bike and bike maintenance schemes – are among the pilots and trials set out in the ‘Active Travel Strategy for Hertfordshire’.
And on Monday (May 15), at a meeting of the county council’s cabinet it was agreed that the strategy should go out to public consultation.
However, councillors stressed that the strategy was not about bashing the use of the car.
“I think it’s important to understand that this isn’t about bashing the car – and I know the public has a concern about councils bashing the car,” said executive member for growth infrastructure and planning Cllr Stephen Boulton.
“What it is aiming to do, as it says, is create a cleaner, greener and healthier Hertfordshire.
“We would all agree with that. And I am sure virtually the whole of the population would agree with that.”
Meanwhile Cllr Phil Bibby – executive member for highways and transport who proposed the consultation – also stressed the strategy was not anti car.
“This document and our strategy is not about being anti car,” he said. “It’s about giving people choice and alternatives and encouragement to do things slightly differently for the benefit of everyone.”
According to the strategy document, almost one in four car journeys in the county – 23 per cent – are less than a single mile, which is said to be equivalent to just a 20 minute walk.
Most journeys – 68 per cent – are reported to be less than five miles, equivalent it is said to a 30 minute bicycle ride.
And at the heart of the strategy is the aim of increasing the number of those shorter trips that are completed by walking or cycling, rather than by car – working towards a cleaner, greener and healthier environment.
But the document also highlights improvements that would be required for safe, direct and convenient routes for walking and cycling.
And it acknowledges the lack of infrastructure, fears about security, lack of confidence, a hilly terrain and even the weather – compared to the convenience of the car.
Leader of the council Cllr Richard Roberts stressed the importance of the consultation process.
He noted that the government had made ‘significant’ grants available that could be used to encourage behavioural change.
But he stressed the importance of community engagement so that residents were a core part of the change process – getting ‘the first say and not the last say’.
“So, whilst there is a natural desire to give everybody the choice as to whether they can safely and healthily walk or cycle to where they want to get to, that will be done with people and not to people,” said Cllr Roberts.