Watford Borough Council’s Cabinet has approved the strategy and 20-year programme to help transform how people travel to, from and around the town, with planned activities taking place over the next two years to start fulfilling the proposals to make it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport.
The programme of scheduled projects follows Watford Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council’s consultation on their ‘Transforming Travel in Watford 2021-2041’ strategy, which showed the majority of the 1,000 people who provided feedback were supportive of the need for change to the way people travel, as well as the proposals put forward to do so.
To start implementing the strategy, over the next 12 to 24 months, the key projects that will take place include relaunching an expanded ‘Watford Car Club’ to provide more residents with short-term car rental services without the hassle of owning a vehicle, as well as the implementation of further phases of public realm improvements in the town centre, starting with the bus gate to reduce traffic entering High Street, and improvements to cycle and walking routes around the town centre.
Additional works that will also be taking place include continuing sustainable travel projects already underway, such as installing more electric vehicle chargers around the town to help the shift towards less polluting vehicles, and providing more cycle parking facilities to help people travel around the town more easily.
The next two years will also see further investigation into the future delivery of schemes such as new cycle infrastructure on key routes across the town, measures to reduce delays for buses at congestion hotspots such as the ring road, alternative uses of the disused railway line between Watford and Croxley, and also the introduction of ‘Town Centre Sustainable Transport Hub’ which will allow easy interchange between different types of transport.
Peter Taylor, Elected Mayor of Watford said: “Not only are congested roads annoying for people waiting in queues, but the pollution from vehicles has a big impact on our health. Improving how we get around Watford will be really important to the health and success of our town in the future.
“Over the last two years it has been great to see some improvements. In particular, our Beryl bike share scheme has been incredibly popular with almost 200,000 journeys since the launch last March. Our new strategy builds on the work we have been doing since declaring a climate emergency in 2019 and the top priority is to reduce the congestion around Watford and make our air cleaner.”
Cllr Ian Stotesbury, Portfolio Holder for Transport and Sustainability said: “As a sector, transport produces more greenhouse gases than any other in the UK and with last year’s climate change report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declaring we are at ‘code red for humanity’, both councils are taking a stand against climate change by developing six key themes to help fulfil the strategy.”
The strategy is underpinned by six key themes including: increasing active travel opportunities, improving public transport for longer journeys, providing alternatives to petrol car, making the town centre more pedestrian and cycle friendly, supporting change and making moving goods more sustainable.