Councillor Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow District Council and of the Harlow Labour group of councillors has written to Councillor Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure.

Cllr Ingall calls on Essex to use government funding to improve Harlow’s crumbling cycle network that is currently maintained by Essex County Council.

You can read the full letter below:

Dear Cllr Bentley,

RE: Opportunity to work together to improve Harlow’s cycle tracks

It was good to hear from you in the Essex Leaders meeting last Thursday and especially good to hear the news of extra money being made available from the government to County Councils to spend on improving cycle safety. I welcome that a share of this money will be used in Harlow. I am writing to you because I believe there is a real opportunity here for us to work together to improve and repair Harlow’s existing cycle track network and get Harlow cycling now and into the future.

You said at the meeting that the purpose of the money was to increase the provision of cycle tracks and that you propose using water filled barriers to divide cycle tracks from roads in some areas and create Park and Pedal schemes to segregate cyclist from cars. I’m not sure this would be the best use of Harlow’s share of the money.

Harlow already has an excellent infrastructure of cycle tracks, indeed the town was designed such that it should be possible to cycle from anywhere to anywhere within the town along this network. The maintenance of these tracks is mostly the responsibility of Essex County Council. Sadly the network’s surface has aged and many of our cycle tracks have suffered from surface degradation resulting in frequent and deep potholes, there is subsidence on some of a scale that makes cycling along them a hazard and in many places poor drainage results in flooding every time there is a shower of rain. I and many other users of the cycle tracks have regularly reported these dangerous defects.

Although the cycle track network is a great asset for the town, I know from talking to local cyclists that most of the network’s current condition is putting off many families from getting on a bike and using them and its putting off those who do cycle and use the track on a daily basis.

I believe the best use of Harlow’s share of the funding would be best spent on making what we already have better and safer. The network is there already.  I am certain that residents of Harlow would not welcome the loss of road space to create additional cycle tracks that run parallel to existing ones. Investment in our cycle tracks and renovation would provide the safer segregated cycling tracks that you want to see without loss of road space and provide a lasting legacy for the Town.

Harlow’s cycle tracks have the potential to be permanent green transport arteries for the town, allowing our pedestrians, our cyclists and increasingly our elderly motorised scooter users to navigate the town without using cars. Investment in our cycle tracks will support the Harlow of today and the Harlow of the future.  The improvement of cycling facilities is an essential precursor to the delivery of the Harlow & Gilston Garden Town transport strategy and this proposed approach will have the support of the Garden Town partnership. I know that council officers and those from Harlow & Gilston Garden Town are already in dialogue with Essex Highways about specific projects.

We will do our bit too to make sure the network is kept clean and tidy and through our local trading company HTS (Property & Environment) Limited we will continue to clear litter and broken glass and other obstructions. We will also make sure any of the small parts of the network which are ours are maintained and repaired. Working together with the County Council and local groups we can also promote the benefits of cycling and the use of Harlow’s cycle tracks.

I hope that we can work together to make these cycle tracks something to be proud of in Harlow once again. I look forward to hearing from you on how we can take this forward.

Yours Sincerely

Cllr Mark Ingall

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