One of the main barriers to encourage people out of their cars, and on to more climate friendly modes of transport such as cycling, is a perception that roads are too dangerous to travel on. Langford has two railway stations just a few miles away at Biggleswade and Arlesey, but there are no dedicated and suitable cycle routes to either. To encourage a shift to cycling for both commuter and leisure travel I believe we need dedicate cycle routes, completely separated from road traffic. Below is an email sent yesterday to Steven Dixon our local Central Bedfordshire Councillor which suggests potential routes between Langford and Biggleswade and Langford and Henlow/Arlesey. This would also help patch up a significant gap in the National Cycle Network that currently exists between Arlesey and Sandy. I’m pleased to see that cycling provision is a priority in the Langford Neighbourhood Plan which residents of Langford will soon get an opportunity to vote on. Of course more needs to be done, both in terms of cycle security and improved public transport in the area and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. I would welcome your comments on the suggested routes below and any ideas that you have to improve our fragmented transport network in the area. My email address is at the bottom of this post.
“You will be aware that a primary reason for people not cycling is the perceived lack of safety, due to there being no separation between cars and cyclists on our main roads. As a fairly competent and experienced rider on most roads in our area I find the Langford to Biggleswade road is not a pleasant experience, with narrow lanes and poor sightlines. The main road route between Langford and Henlow/Arlesey Station is also narrow and I’m aware that this puts off many parents from letting their children cycle to and from school along this road.
Langford to Biggleswade Station Route
Looking at the S106 funding that will be due from the development South of Cambridge Road I can see that there will be £40,000 due for improvements between the development and Arlesey and Biggleswade stations and a further £80,000 due towards a scheme to provide pedestrian and cycle access over the East Coast Mainline Railway (ECML). It is not exactly clear from reading the ‘Rights of Way’ report description and looking at the indicative map, whether the extension to the bridleway to connect BW8 to BW4 would run over a separate bridge over the ECML next to the current bridge, or would be routed over the hump back bridge, with the installation of traffic lights either side of the bridge, mentioned in the Highway Officer’s report and a reduction of the road over the bridge to a single lane. I suspect a separate additional span would be costly, although I’m not sure of the practicality of fitting everything over the hump back bridge.
However, whichever way it is done, it would lead to separated cycle and vehicular traffic which is beneficial, and more importantly it would take away any potential issues with crossing the ECML railway and the dangers associated with that.
While this connectivity is to be welcomed, it would only link the development to BW8 which as you are probably aware doesn’t actually go anyway, heading in an Easterly direction towards the water tower, before turning South back towards the Edworth Road.
However, there is the potential for this extension to link up to BW9 if a route is extended up the East side of the ECML. While BW9, which heads North towards Biggleswade is not fit for most cycling (other than a dirt bike) and a small section of BW40 which it turns into is of a similar poor standard, improvements to this section would mean it would connect up with the recently improved main section of BW40 and would result in a dedicated fit for purpose cycle route, separated from any road traffic all the way between Langford and Biggleswade station, with an additional feeder route in from East Road. I have attached the Rights of Way Officer plan (below) and a further map which shows the potential connection (orange dots) to BW9 near East Road. Some of this route is already hard surfaced.
Langford to Henlow/Arlesey Station Route
This could be improved by upgrading FP12 (map below) which leads off the ‘concrete road’ leading South from the proposed development. As you will be aware BW25 suffers from drainage issues in the Winter and this would need to be rectified to make it fit for purpose for a cycle route. The road section which crosses over the River Ivel is in very poor condition and this would require attention. FP7 which runs past Henlow Grange and the Western edge of the Henlow Bridge Lakes park would also need upgrading. With these improvements again there would be a dedicated cycle route between Langford and Arlesey station, completely separate from road traffic.
I’m sure there would be some challenges along the way, some conversations with landowners required, and there will be some issues that I’m not aware of. However, given the importance of encouraging a shift away from the car and towards cycles or e-cycles, I am sure these are not insurmountable if the genuine desire to fix them is there.
Happy to hear your views on the above, as well as any details you can share on any draft proposals or alternatives that have been suggested.”
Julian Vaughan via email 1st September 2021