Mr Lenthall on the cycle paths in Stevenage
Mr Lenthall discusses the use of cycle paths and their importance in creating safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists.
We did measure the cycle use on them, and I forget the figure, it was something like I think about 12 to 18 per cent of the peak hour movement was on the cycleway system, which takes not only cycle ways but mopeds of course. Eric Claxton who originated this system had two very strong reasons for creating it. Coming from Surrey County Council with a number of main arterial roads in the county, had saw the kind of devastation which cyclists and pedestrians suffered when they had to cross arterial road traffic, which they had to at a number of interchanges, and he was determined he was going to protect them from that. But the other thing is that if you create a system with a high degree of safety you do generate a certain amount of usage, and he felt that the amount of usage was dependent upon the competing attraction of the car, and the car is an extremely attractive form of transport. It’s warm, it’s comfortable, it’s like a little bit of your home, as I described it earlier as the additional room of the house, and it’s so convenient because you can sort of pick it up and put it down at any time, and it’s quick, and it’s quite exciting to use. And he realised that there was this great competition, but he also felt that the nation’s prosperity wouldn’t necessarily continue in perpetuity, and there would become times when perhaps it would be more difficult for people to own and operate cars, and that they would have to use alternative forms of transport. And he felt in the early days of the New Town he should give them an opportunity, so he wanted to create this separate system. As it’s turned out there is quite a faithful following amongst the cyclists and moped users in the town, and certainly amongst the pedestrians, but what perhaps surprised us slightly, and which we should have thought about, is it’s extremely popular with the children. The children have the freedom to move around the town in safety now, without their parents having to worry about where they are, because you can put a twelve-year-old on a bicycle and put him on the cycleway system and say, “There you are, go and enjoy the town, “ and they can get to virtually all parts of the town.