Our Active Travel Officer, David Burt, writes about the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan for Harlow & Gilston Garden Town.

Harlow and Gilston Garden Town (HGGT) has an ambitious Vision for transport in which local centres are accessible by walking and cycling with pleasant routes that encourage people to move actively – to walk, cycle and wheel – and are inclusive to all abilities.

Last month HGGT took a big step towards this vision for transport through the launch of our Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) consultation which consists of proposals for nine cycling routes and four walking zones across the Garden Town.

More people traveling actively day-to-day has numerous benefits for the wider community, giving people independence and enabling connectivity, improving people’s mental and physical wellbeing which reduces pressure on the NHS, reducing both air and noise pollution, and increasing footfall for local businesses.

These huge economic, environmental, social and health benefits of active travel have been extensively documented and one of the primary means of increasing levels of active travel is through the provision of high quality infrastructure that connects people to local schools, shops and workplaces.

Harlow already has over 30 miles of cycling and walking networks and a large part of the LCWIP is about improving and enhancing this infrastructure to create cohesive and high quality provision as much as it’s about building new facilities.

Extensive measures will be considered when developing new and enhanced routes from resurfacing, widening and lighting through to cycle parking, landscaping and signage.

The development of the LCWIP will create a more inclusive and accessible active travel network which will open up opportunities and connectivity for more people from the elderly, disabled and school children to visitors and residents.

As HGGT looks ahead to the new Garden Communities, which will focus on sustainable transport, the LCWIP routes provides an interface with these developments, setting the standard for exemplar quality infrastructure and creating a high quality network that can seamlessly integrate with the new communities.

The LCWIP consultation has gone very well so far with a wide variety of comments, including many around safety, and rightly so because it can be a barrier to people cycling or walking more regularly.

Measures we’ll look at to address safety include CCTV monitoring where suitable, secure cycle parking and designing in natural surveillance which is where a route is overlooked by roads, houses or shops and encourages more people to use the facilities.

This LCWIP aligns with the ambitions of Government which is aiming for 50% of all journeys in towns and cities to be walked or cycled by 2030 and also with HGGT which is aiming for 60% sustainable journeys across the new Garden Communities and 50% across the Garden Town.

Our LCWIP consultation is live right now at www.hggt.co.uk/lcwip and we’ll also be revisiting individual routes for resident engagement as funding becomes available from Government and other agencies.