Minutes of meeting held Tuesday 26th January 2016

Present: John Metcalf (Chair), Jenny Smith (WHBC), Ian Gregory (Minutes), Cathy Wilkins (WHBC), Dan Tancock (HCC), Jez Cox (HCC), Bob Jones (Stevenage and North Herts CTC), John Shead (WelHatCycling), Clive Jones (Spokes), Roger Bangs (Spokes), Chris Whitehouse (WelHatCycling)

  1. Apologies for absence: Tina Filby, Nick Truran, Rona Wightman, Steve Brazier, Mike Narramore

  2. Introductions

  3. Jenny Smith ( of Welwyn Hatfield Planning Department spoke about proposals for a green corridor in central Hertfordshire.

    The idea of the corridor is to prevent WGC and Hatfield merging together as a result of proposals for new large scale housing developments. It is envisaged as a strip of land at least 50m wide set aside for wildlife (with bio-diversity enhancements) and an adjacent strip for walking, cycling and horse riding. A draft feasibility report has been produced. There are basically only four landowners involved. Gascoyne Cecil Estates, Goodman, Tarmac and Cemex, all of whom have put forward proposals for housing. It is hoped that work on the green corridor could be funded by S106 payments from the developments. Jenny mentioned the idea of trying to get money to set up a trust that would maintain routes for a period of 20 years. She then asked what we as cyclists would like to see as priorities for the green corridor. The main requests were:

    1. A link between NCN12 and the Cole Green Way
    2. A link between Oaklands and the UH DeHavilland Campus
    3. Better cycling links to Mill Green
    4. A route alongside, or as an alternative to Coopers Green Lane
    5. Links into Panshanger Park
    6. Surfacing of routes to follow Sustrans recommendations

    Someone suggested a route going East out of Hatfield along the South side of the A414 but apparently Gascoyne Cecil would be opposed. Someone else suggested a route South of Hatfield, which may be worth thinking about but would not fit within the goal of keeping WGC and Hatfield from merging.

    There was some discussion about lighting. Many commuters are wary of cycling on unlit rural routes in the winter but, due partly to wildlife requirements, it is unlikely that routes in the green corridor would be lit. There was a feeling that a large part of the reason for creating a green corridor should be to provide future residents of proposed developments with a viable alternative to motorised transport for getting to work/shops (in order to avoid increased emissions, congestion etc). Getting a good nework of attractive leisure routes would be fantastic but developers must also provide links suitable for commuters and utility cyclists. Surface type was also discussed. Again, being a green corridor, Jenny said that tarmac surfacing is not a realistic option. That should not be a problem as well made routes using crushed concrete sub-base with concrete dust dressing (as with new Wheathampstead, Nomansland, Sandridge link) can be almost as fast and smooth as tarmac. In fact there is a problem with tarmac getting broken up by roots over time, whereas "loose" surfaces can be self healing.

  4. Minutes of meeting held 27th October 2015 were approved

  5. Matters arising:

    Jez Cox thought it would be a good idea to invite Jacob Wing to a meeting. Jacob started at HCC in September last year as Sustainable Transport and Development Officer. Jez offered to ask him.

    JM wanted to take forward item 9 from the last meeting - Local Economic Partnership (LEP) funding for cycling. The suggestion was to attempt to present the economic case for cycling directly to the LEP at one of their meetings. Dan Tancock said that the process for getting funding from the LEP was similar to the process for getting HCC to fund a project but that the LEP was very business focussed. He suggested that the best way to get LEP funding for cycling would be to push for cycling elements in projects, giving arguments as to how they would provide economic benefits in individual cases. He didn't think there would be much milage in trying to get the LEP to listen to general arguments in favour of cycling. He also suggested going through local county council members rather than attempting to go directly to the LEP.

  6. County Council issues

    1. Scope for revision of HCC's Roads in Hertfordshire to take account of DfT commendation of the TfL and Welsh design standards for cycling.

      Dan Tancock thought that despite DfT's apparent rejection of national standards there was pressure to go that way and that it may eventually happen. In the meantime there is certainly scope for updating the Hertfordshire document and that might feed in to a future national standard. Someone said that is seems the Hertordshire standard is not always followed, particularly for schemes that are not primarily cycling schemes. For example, when a road is made one way for motor vehicles the presumption is to provide for contra-flow cycling but this doesn't always happen (Dan said that paticular circumstances may overide the general presumption). Also if there are junction or footway improvements being made it seems that the opportunity for cycle improvements as part of the scheme is often overlooked. It was suggested that this be discussed at the next HCC Cycle Forum. As well as the DfT and Welsh standards another useful source of ideas would be the Making Space for Cycling guide for new developments and street renewals.

    2. Cycling infrastructure: How to influence HCC development and prioritisation.

      JM had been looking at the National Propensity to Cycle Tool being developed for DfT.

    3. Maintenance of cycle paths and routes

      CWH said that he has reported what he considered faults to Highways and they didn't classify them as faults so took no action. An example was a root on a shared use path that had raised the tarmac by a few centimetres in a sharp bulge that would be uncomfortable or even dangerous to ride over at speed. Highways said that it wasn't bad enough to be a trip hazzard for pedestrians so nothing was done.

      Many cycle paths alongside highways are in a very poor state with much reduced effective width and poor surfaces but these are apparently not "faults". Highways are supposed to inspect cycle paths at the same frequency as roads but this may mean that the person who is driving along the road to assess its condition just visually inspects the adjacent path while driving. This is clearly not a good way a assessing the condition of the path - someone really needs to cycle along it.

      IG suggested that more resources should be put into regular maintenance to avoid rapid deterioration. Roads are to some extent self cleaning and heavy lorries ensure that branches are unable to encroach. If cycle paths are not kept clear of leaves then a layer of compost builds up where seeds can grow and roots can extend from adjacent vegetation. Regular blowing or sweeping can largely prevent this. Hedges should be cut well back from the path and then regularly trimmed.

      On a positive note, Dan said that HCC are working on a fault reporting system specifically for cycle paths. He also said that HCC are looking at the possibility of parishes taking over some highway maintenence, such as cleaning of signs. Doing it under licence from HCC would remove the fear parishes may have of being sued if they carry out any work themselves.

      JM suggested petitioning HCC for better maintenence. Someone needs to draft a petition - Action JM

    4. HCC Cycle Forum: items for next meeting (date not yet set)

      • Revision of Roads in Hertfordshire
      • Route maintenence
      • An item from the minutes of our previous meeting was "promoting courtesy on shared routes and roads"
      • JS asked about the electronic information boards installed by Highways and why they are almost always turned off rather than displaying safety tips etc as they apparently do in Cambridgeshire. Dan said that DfT regulations are very proscriptive when it comes to what can be displayed and that Hertfordshire may simply be playing it safe. There are also arguments that messages could be a distraction or that drivers may just stop paying attention and miss urgent messages about current conditions.
  7. Space for Cycling Campaign

    Spokes and STACC have produced lists of schemes for Three Rivers and St Albans along the same lines as the WelHatCycling list of schemes that would help create space for cycling as promoted by the CTC Space for Cycling campaign. STACC is now looking at how to prioritize their list. The STACC list may appear on their website at some point but in the meantime JM offered to email it to people on request.

  8. CycleHerts website and mailing list

    IG investigated moving discussion list to a new address on our own domain and creating a separate announcement list but there were complications so he decided to stick with what we have.

    Our List of Cycling Organisations in Hertfordshire has been checked, updated and expanded based on information provided by Jez. There are now separate sections for cycling clubs and triathlon clubs, and many more of these are now listed. The same excercise should be done with our Ownership of Routes document. Remind Dan Tancock to have a look at it Action IG

  9. Reports on meetings and events

    Jez has been organising a six round racing series for this summer (starting on May 8th and ending on July 17th). He has got three major sponsors for ongoing funding after his post has ended. He is planning at some point in this year's series to stage a rehearsed road rage incident in partnership with the police and is looking for ideas about exactly what sort of incident to stage (he said he would email us about it). He is also looking for people to marshall and is offering free tickets as an incentive to sign up.

  10. Finance report

    We have £120.62 in the bank account. As Adam is no longer an officer he needs to be removed as signatory. IG will be added in his place. JM still needs to be given access to online banking so that the treasurer does not have sole access - Action CWH

  11. Any other business

    Jez thanked people for submitting updates to the Hertfordshire Recreational Cycling Map. The new edition should be available at the end of February with a print run of 5000. It is already available online on the county's Hertfordshire Cycling site (along with a link to the YouTube channel of Herfordshire cycling route films).

  12. Dates of future meetings

    All on Tuesday at 7pm - April 19th, August 23rd, November 1st

    As Cathy will be retiring shortly we will no longer be able to meet at Campus East. We decided to meet at Hatfield fire station if possible (it is free for community groups) or otherwise at SADC offices in St Albans. Chris has already booked the meeting room at the fire station for monthly WelHatCycling meetings and will see if he can book it for us for the above dates - Action CWH