Bus route, walking, cycling, rowing on the River Stort

BLOG: New Travel Route for Harlow

Harlow & Gilston Garden Town’s five council partners have started work on the first phase of the project’s new public travel routes.

Known as a Sustainable Transport Corridor, they will provide dedicated infrastructure for rapid bus transit, cycling and walking routes.

Essex County Council’s David Sprunt is the Transportation & Infrastructure Lead for West Essex and explains how the new public travel routes will make it easier and quicker for residents and visitors to travel around the local area in years to come.

Work has begun on the Burnt Mill roundabout to town centre section of the Sustainable Transport Corridor and that route will be one of the spokes in the wheel that will eventually link the north, south, east and west of Harlow to the town centre in the future.

This work is programmed to be completed before Christmas 2025.

It will allow easier movement across the town from key places like Pinnacles, the railway station and the Enterprise Zone in the east as well as preparing us for the new hospital, which is proposed near the new 7a junction of the M11.

And at the heart of these journeys will be the new Transport Hub and Interchange in Harlow which will be an upgraded version of the current bus station, part of Harlow Council’s commitment to redeveloping the town centre.

Ultimately, the Burnt Mill roundabout section of the Sustainable Transport Corridor will continue north and serve the seven new Garden Town villages in Gilston which is why we’ve chosen this section of Harlow to start with.

The seven villages have had agreement for planning permission approved by East Herts Council meaning Gilston is more advanced for development than the other proposed neighbourhoods for the Garden Town.

We hope some of the reasons people will move to the new villages at Gilston will be because the walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure offering is part of what they want for their quality of life and way of living.

We often get asked why we’re building new public travel routes in Harlow when infrastructure for buses, cycling and walking already exists.

It’s a good question but what you’ll see with the new and improved routes are continuous bus lanes to enable rapid bus transit and faster journeys for existing bus services plus better reliability.

The junctions in Harlow will also be upgraded through new and innovative measures to encourage more walking and cycling.

Residents are going to see safer walking and cycling pathways and, rather than just a white line on a three metre wide pavement, there will be a full five metres of space allowing for dedicated uses.

This is a big difference to what’s in place currently. For example, the present infrastructure presents real problems for getting to the town centre from the railway station.

If you use it now for cycling then you’ll know that the routing is quite variable, past Sainsbury’s and then nothing to the town centre.

So the Sustainable Transport Corridor will address that and not only make it much better for people to use but give people a proper entry point into the middle of Harlow.

The Sustainable Transport Corridors are not about stopping   people using their cars or  preventing anyone choosing to continue to move around in their car.

The aim is to give residents and visitors a different and better travel choice than what is currently on offer.

People will always have freedom of choice, but the new routes will, we think, be cheaper and quicker than car journeys around the Garden Town.

We want to  give people a cost effective alternative which will get you from A to B cheaply, quickly and reliably.

Local bus users will know that Arriva provide a service in Harlow and the introduction of the new public travel routes will allow us to go out to tender for rapid bus transit services.

Other areas in the UK are moving towards electric vehicles for their bus services, Nottingham have over 70 buses to help combat air pollution and climate change and Norwich have just introduced their electric fleet as well.

We envisage the Burnt Mill roundabout to town centre and its extension to the Gilston villages  to be operational before 2030 and innovation and costs of buses will also have moved on by then, making their introduction easier.

As a five council Garden Town partnership, we all want to provide infrastructure that is safe and easy to use.

Harlow residents tell us that they want to use the infrastructure on offer to get around, but there are barriers to regular use that are off putting, there might be a section of a cycling path is dimly lit or you have to cross a major road and it feels dangerous.

The new public travel routes will alleviate those concerns and maybe bring a sea change in people’s thinking.

And once the Sustainable Transport Corridor gets a reputation locally for moving people around the town quickly and cheaply, it will hopefully inspire confidence in people to give it a go on a regular basis.

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