A Great Boost for Cycling in St Albans!

Imagine a boost for cycling in St Albans with a community-led, state-of-the-art Community and Cycle Hub with Cycling Activity Park. Club sessions for experienced cyclists. Bike workshops. Reconditioned bikes. A safe place to learn to ride: training for youngsters and adults, women-only sessions, fun cycle activities. Encouragement for less-confident riders and people with disabilities… to get on their bike!

It will inspire new cyclists. Children see cycling as fun. Experienced cyclists improve skills and take part in club/competition activities. Cycling increases in the district. It helps to reduce car journeys, reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of air.


This week’s blog is written by Gail Jackson, from the Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub campaign group, and former trustee of Sustainable St Albans. If you like what you see – Gail asks please consider donating to the Cottonmill Centre Crowdfunder – or take part in the ‘Dads Run for Fun’ on 2nd Jan to raise funds.


Imagine an eco-friendly community building with solar panels, air source heat pump, green roof, and no gas. Add a small fruit orchard with community kitchen to support food sharing and food growing initiatives. Finally a community cafe!

Well, right now, this fabulous new centre is being built – in the heart of Cottonmill in Sopwell ward, one of the most deprived areas in the district.

Inclusive Community Centre

There will be low-cost halls to hire. There is a ‘Quiet Room’ for peace and reflection. A Changing Places toilet makes the centre accessible for people with disabilities. Wudu washing facilities so local Muslims feel confident to use the space.

This centre is the result of 3 years + campaigning by local groups.

Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub campaign, Verulam Cycling Club, Sopwell Community Trust and St Albans scouts worked with the council design team to create a centre to meet residents’ needs.

“A great initiative and a great boost to cycling in St Albans !”

Michael

Now you can help to build the centre

Community Crowdfunding open until 6th Jan

St Albans City and District Council secured major funding for the centre. The plan is to complete the new building at the former Marlborough Pavilion site, off Old Oak, Cottonmill Lane AL1, in spring 2022.

Building costs recently increased. So, the local community are helping raise a total of £79k funds. See the Crowdfunder here.

#Buy-a-Brick

For just £50 donation you can #Buyabrick and get your name engraved on it .

“I’m looking forward to my two sons seeing their names on the brick

for years to come”

Daniel

Rewards for Donating

Examples include:

  • 3 Cycle Coaching sessions for young people
  • Tea for two people with Daisy Cooper MP in St Albans
  • Veggie BBQ party for 6 guests with Christo from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
  • One month’s trial membership at JJ Fitness Gym

Donate NOW and help to build the centre

Or make a Larger Donation:Name A Room‘ and Honours Board


Sustainable Transport – Increasing cycling

Increasing the number of cyclists is important to SADC because Active Travel is a priority. The Council’s declared Climate Emergency aims to reduce petrol/diesel car use in favour of more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling. Increasing numbers of local cyclists could play an important role in developing cycling as a widespread means of local transport. 

Verulam Cycling Club

Bike Things To Do

  • Purpose Built Cycle Hub – bike servicing, repair, bike hire, accessories, reconditioned cycles, training sessions.  
  • Outdoor Facilities – a pump track, within viewing distance of the café. Cyclo-cross course, existing dirt track facilities.  Learn-to-ride, with progression to 3m wide cyclo-cross course (suitable for adapted bikes). Storage facilities and adapted bikes available for hire. 
  • Guided Rides – to build confidence and encourage people to cycle.
  • Disability – ‘learn 2 ride’ sessions for people with a disability. With the Hertfordshire Disability Sports Foundation.

Learn-2-Ride sessions for children

Small groups – fun, friendly and safe traffic free environment.

Community

Sopwell has few community spaces so we expect the halls to be used for yoga, Pilates, drama, dance, and social events including celebrations and weddings. And finally the Sopwell Muslim community will be able to host community events locally.

The centre can host youth clubs – from guides and scouts to anti-social behaviour work; meetups for the elderly and isolated; health and well-being support; food growing projects; food banks can use the community kitchen.

This project started out with a chat between two residents in Sainsbury’s café . Now it is a dream come true for the groups who began to campaign.

We hope you will enjoy this wonderful new community-led centre. It will be a cornerstone for developing sustainable transport in the district. It will be a community hub to encourage and enable supportive local networks to thrive.

Help to build the centre see more here

See more resources on Walking and Cycling here

Pick one step. Learn about it. Do it (with our help).

Momentum towards the COP26 climate talks is building. It’s in the papers, on the news, on social media. Yet that focus shouldn’t only be on Glasgow; it needs action at all levels. We can also turn the spotlight on ourselves and ask “What action will I take during COP26? How will I raise my voice?”. Well, here’s an easy place to start. Simply pick one of the 16 climate actions below that interests you. Get inspired by our blog, get informed by our resources page, and then commit to take that step with Count Us In. Do one thing more, during COP26, and be part of a movement of change.


Over 16 weeks, we have run our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps.  We have had a guest blog each week since July during the countdown to the UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps. The blogs are backed-up by detailed resources pages, to help you get started.

In this wrap-up, we lay out all the 16 blogs and resources pages in one place.

Our call to action is for you to pick one climate action below, let us help you get informed, and then take that step with Count Us In.


As a small, local environmental charity, Sustainable St Albans has always had some key principles at its heart. We are ordinary people like you. We care about the amazing district of St Albans. By finding positive ways to act, we want to empower local people to take a step to live more sustainably.

16 blogs by extraordinary ordinary local people

Over the last 16 weeks, some truly extraordinary ordinary St Albans District people have told us their own inspirational stories, shared with us their passions and taken time to tell other residents like you their secrets to success. Each has taken one of the 16 Count Us In steps and shared their knowledge so that the rest of us can positively act to live more sustainably in one area of our lives.

“St Albans District people have told us their own inspirational stories.”

Meet our Count Us in bloggers

The great thing about the 16 Count Us In steps is that there is something for everyone. You just start with one step.

Food and Fashion

If you love your food, take inspiration from Becky about Eating More Plants, from Juliet about Eating More Seasonally or from Caroline about Reducing Food Waste. How about fashion? There’s Emily’s look at Wearing Clothes to Last. Plus, Philip’s Repair and Re-Use blog is also great on thinking about what we already have before we buy new.

Fly less, Drive Electric, Walk & Cycle More

Susheel gives practical ideas for those wondering about how to cut down on short journey car use with her Walk and Cycle More blog. For medium and long journeys, try Shaun’s Drive Electric blog. Planning a holiday? – read James’ idea for a plane-free holiday in Fly Less.

Repaire Fair in St Albans

Home Energy

On the home front, energy use is top of the agenda. Don’t miss Judith’s blog about how she Insulated her Home – a Victorian end-of-terrace, no less. Ian has great advice about how to use less heating in Dial It Down. In a second blog, he gives easy steps to help you Switch Your Energy provider. Plus, Will tells his real life experience of having solar panels installed in Get Some Solar.

Money and Speaking Up

An area of our lives many of us have yet to tackle is Greening Our Money. Simon’s blog is eye-opening on that subject.

Finally, we must not forget the impact that we can all have by talking about climate action with other people. Each person we influence expands the ever-growing population of people who are making changes. Catherine’s blog about Talking to Friends introduces Climate Conversations as a framework. Dan encourages us to Speak up at Work. 18 year old Jess’s blog on Tell Your Politicians turns a daunting prospect into an achievable and necessary step.

“Each person we influence expands the ever-growing population of people who are making changes.”

And meet some people who have taken their first step

It’s great to be hearing from those have already been inspired by our #CountdowntoCOP campaign. Meet three people who have signed up to take a step on the special St Albans District Count Us In page.

Isobel is Eating More Plants

Fleetville resident, Isobel, says: “I pledged through ‘Count Us In‘ to reduce the number of meals I eat containing meat. I enjoyed being creative in the kitchen, using tofu and soya mince. I was pleased that I managed to convince the kids to try some new dishes, some of which they were impressed with. Meat-free meals will continue to be on the menu some nights, and when we do buy meat we will go for locally produced and high welfare standards.

Read Becky’s blog “Quick and Easy ways to Eat More Plants” so you can take the Eat More Plants step like Isobel.

 Banh Mi from Taste of Vietnam. Photo: Taste of Vietnam

Lizzie is Wearing Clothes to Last

Lizzie, also from St Albans says: “I pledged to buy only second hand clothes for two months. I often go to the charity shop but it’s a bit hit or miss. This time I decided to look on Facebook market place as I wanted a new warm jumper. I found one just round the corner from me and it’s become a new staple. I’ll definitely look there again in the future.

Read Emily’s blog “Easy Ways to Wear Clothes to Last” and pledge like Lizzie.

Linda is Driving Electric

Harpenden resident, Linda, says: “I pledged through Count Us In to try the step ‘Drive electric’.  We completed this step after a 2-month transition from running a diesel car each (blushes…), through sharing 1 car, to swapping that for an electric car.

The hardest part was overcoming range anxiety – after deciding which colour EV to buy, of course.  We tackled that by installing a charging point at home, powered by our own solar-generated electricity. We also found out where the neighbourhood ‘fast’ charging points are.

Looking back, the question to ourselves is – ‘Why didn’t we do this sooner?’

Read Shaun’s blog “The Road to My First EV: “Ill never own an electric car”” to help you take the Drive Electric pledge like Linda.

“Looking back, the question to ourselves is – “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”.

16 steps – just pick one

The 16 Count Us In steps are below. Pick one that interests you, read the blog, check out the resources and then click through to take that step on our own special St Albans District Count Us In page.

Remember when you register to tick to say you are part of the team “St Albans Climate Action Network”.

Which step will you pledge to take?

Talk to Friends

Read Catherine’s blog: 5 Good Reasons Not to Talk about Climate Change (and Why You Should Anyway)

Switch Your Energy

Cut Food Waste

Walk and Cycle More

Eat More Plants

Get Some Solar

Eat Seasonal

Drive Electric

Repair and Reuse

Dial It Down

Fly Less

Insulate Your Home

Wear Clothes to Last

Tell Your Politicians

Speak Up At Work

Green Your Money

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to each of our bloggers for their fantastic and inspirational writing.

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

Fly less and explore more of the UK

I’m the Chief Executive of YHA, a charity and social enterprise with a 90-year history of connecting people with places, with the outdoors, with nature, and with the culture and heritage of England and Wales. YHA is a charity dedicated to ensuring everyone gets the benefit of time in green spaces, and ensuring all those we serve come to know, love and appreciate the natural world.


This is Week 11 of our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps.  We will have a guest blog each week until November’s UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps.

This week, James Blake, chief executive of YHA, tells us how to enjoy great holidays in the UK when we take the step ‘Fly Less” with Count Us In.


For the last couple of years, many more of us have holidayed closer to home – by necessity rather than design. The impact of COVID-19 has seen a major drop in air travel, which in turn meant a significant, temporary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

As we move beyond this era of travel restrictions, there is a temptation to return to holidays abroad reached by plane. It is vital, however, that we all try to fly less: the Count Us In campaign say “taking a few less flights is one of the best ways to dramatically reduce your carbon pollution”. Holidaying in the UK is a great green option and there is a huge variety of wonderful holiday types available here. One you may not have tried is hostelling.

“As we move beyond this era of travel restrictions, there is a temptation to return to holidays abroad reached by plane. It is vital, however, that we all try to fly less.”

Hostelling is a greener adventure

Hostelling in the UK is a fantastic option for a holiday if you are trying to fly less. It makes travel and adventure accessible to everyone, everywhere. Hostelling has a strong ethos around sharing spaces and it is this that makes hostelling by definition one of the most sustainable forms of accommodation. 

Accommodation to suit everyone

Nevertheless, hostelling does not have to mean bunk rooms. If you thought you knew what hosteling was like, think again as it can take many accommodation forms. As we say on the YHA website: “You may prefer the communal and friendly environment of sharing with others in a dorm room. But if that’s not your thing, we have plenty of room types available, including private rooms, cabins and even tipis which allow you to enjoy some privacy and space of your own.” Read more about what it’s like in a hostel here.

“We have plenty of room types available, including private rooms, cabins and even tipis.”

Stay in iconic locations

 YHA operates over 150 sites throughout England and Wales. We’re lucky enough to be guardians of some truly extraordinary properties — uniquely situated, with iconic landscapes and landmarks right on our doorstep. For a flavour, take a look at our list of national treasures and hidden gems with suggestions of the best places to stay nearby. 

Photo: YHA

Sustainable by design

Taking care of the environment is an essential part of what we do. And to that end, many of our purpose-built properties are constructed from sustainable materials and carry eco-friendly credentials. We’re advocates of car-less holidays and many hostels are in locations well served by public transport. Take a look at our top nine places to reach by train or bus

Where will you explore?

Be it the foot of the highest mountain, shore of the largest lake, the heart of a National Park, or world-famous historic places, hostelling allows you to access great value accommodation in all the best places. Plus, as we’re a charity, all spend gets put back into improving health, wellbeing and life skills – for all, but especially young people.

Fly less, explore more with YHA. Here’s a handful of places where you can do just that. 

“We’re lucky enough to be guardians of some truly extraordinary properties.”

YHA Eskdale

YHA Eskdale. Photo: YHA

On the edge of one of the Lake District’s most awe-inspiring wilderness areas, YHA Eskdale is a real hidden gem. The hostel runs off renewable heat and electricity through the use of a biomass boiler and solar panels. There’s also a wildlife trail and a nature hide in the grounds.

YHA Snowdon Pen-y-Pass

YHA Snowdon Pen-y-Pas. Photo: YHA

Because of its climber-friendly location, 1000 ft above sea level on Snowdon’s eastern slope, there has been guest accommodation on this site since at least 1871. The site is steeped in mountaineering heritage, having hosted George Leigh Mallory for climbing parties prior to his Everest attempt. 

YHA Boggle Hole

YHA Boggle Hole. Photo: YHA

The quirky Boggle Hole is nestled in a former smuggler’s cove on Yorkshire’s Heritage Coast. So close to the beach, this is the place to paddle, hunt for fossils and build sandcastles. Robin Hood’s Bay is a stroll away, and to get to Whitby, simply walk or cycle the Cinder Track.

To see all of our accommodation and seasonal offers across England and Wales, visit us online.

Other hostelling options

If you fancy going further afield, our sister organisation Hostelling Scotland has a similar network across Scotland.

And if there’s not a YHA in the place you want to go, there is a network of independent hostels right across the UK. So you’ll never be far from an opportunity to travel sustainably through hostelling. 

Even further afield? Find links to hostel networks in various European countries here, and look at the Sustainable St Albans Fly Less resources page for help planning your travel there by train or coach. 

Fly less, explore more

Let’s keep all that’s great about domestic travel for a greener, more eco-friendly future by flying less and exploring more.

Happy holidays! 

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

Join in today and use Jame’s advice to help you choose the “Fly Less” Step as your pledge.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

We will have a blog every Sunday until the international climate talks in November, COP26. Each blog will focus on one of the 16 steps. Look out for next week’s blog on insulating your home by Judith Leary-Joyce.

The Road To My First Electric Vehicle

I remember thinking I would never become an EV driver but now I’m a convert. This is the story of my journey to a true believer.


This is Week 8 of our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps.  We will have a guest blog each week until November’s UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps.

This week’s blog, on the step ‘Drive electric’, is from proud EV driver Shaun Williams, Sales & Marketing Director of St Albans-based EB Charging. EB Charging offers EV charging solutions, such as the new charging posts at Westminster Lodge.


“I’m a car person, I love driving!”

A few years ago – before I joined EB Charging – I worked with our Marketing Director, Dave, at a previous job. We were chatting about the fact I wanted to buy a new car. Dave had already pledged to stop flying in his commitment to doing his bit for the environment and had just returned from a trip to Spain, where he’d taken the train.

When I told Dave I was considering a big, fast German GT model, his response was exactly what I expected. He told me to buy an EV: “and not one of those hybrids. You want to get a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).” In the same conversation, he also predicted that the date the UK would stop selling new petrol and diesel cars would be brought forward, which it has.

I gave the standard ‘petrol head’ response: “No way! I’m a car person, and I love driving.” I reminded him of his own car ownership history, which included some very fast cars with big engines. He said: “Well, nobody was aware of the environmental issues when I was driving those things.” He reminded me that now we know better, we have an obligation to do better. And in hindsight, my response was more than a bit hypocritical for someone working in the green energy supply and efficiency space.

“I gave the standard ‘petrol head’ response: “No way! I’m a car person, and I love driving.””

Besides, I’d already had some previous EV experience which I had mixed feelings about. In my previous role, I’d driven a Mercedes plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) which had a large petrol engine and a small battery capable of around 16 miles on a full charge. The car itself was nice, but I remember thinking: “What’s the point of this? You can’t go anywhere using the battery, it just flicks over to the petrol engine when the journey has barely started.”

The personal benefits of that hybrid as a company car were fantastic: reduced benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, reduced road tax, an initial purchase incentive and no congestion charge. But how could all that be justified for a car that did 16 miles using its battery and then swapped to a high-polluting petrol engine? To me, it felt like nothing more than a token gesture.

Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash

“You’ll have to get an EV now…”

Fast forward a few years, and a few more gas-guzzling cars later, and I accepted a new role with EB Charging. I knew that as soon as I saw Dave he was going to tell me, again, that I needed to buy a BEV.

After a meeting with the CEO in which he outlined our vision, values and strategy, we went outside to look at the EV charging system in the car park. Immediately, he pointed at my German oil burner and said: “You can’t drive that anymore.” As if on cue, Dave came out of the office and said: “You’ll have to get an EV now.”

And suddenly, my EV ownership was a case of when and not if. That night I remember sitting at home, thinking about all the reasons not to go electric:

  • “I can’t switch to an EV, I drive too many miles.”
  • “The range of the battery is too short for me to get anywhere.”
  • “There aren’t enough chargers in the UK yet.”
  • “EVs are too expensive.”
  • “There is not enough choice in the EV market.”
  • “They aren’t really that environmentally-friendly…”

I was getting range anxiety before I’d even bought the car! Now, I know that none of these things are true. They’re simply myths that need to be busted.

“I was getting range anxiety before I’d even bought the car! Now, I know that none of these things are true. They’re simply myths that need to be busted.”

So, the next day, I started the process of finding myself an EV. It took a little research and a few phone calls, but I’m now the proud owner of a used Tesla Model S, and I love driving it as much as I loved driving my petrol cars.

Inevitably, the first person I saw when I got to the office with my new car was Dave. “Well done,” he said, “Now you just have to stop flying!”

There was only one response: “That will never happen to me.”

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Where to start: find all the information you need

Interested in hearing more about Shaun’s journey to EV ownership? Check out this Radio Verulam interview [link to follow after broadcast], where he talks in more detail about buying, charging, and driving his electric car and becoming part of the EV community.

Go to the new resources page on the Sustainable St Albans website, to find video guides, local dealerships, a searchable database of EVs, and more.


Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

Join in today and use Shaun’s inspiring advice to choose the “Drive Electric” Step as your pledge.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

We will have a blog every Sunday until the international climate talks in November, COP26. Each blog will focus on one of the 16 steps. Look out for next week’s blog on Repair and Reuse by Philip le Riche.

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Leave the Car at Home: How to Start Walking and Cycling More

I can think of lots of reasons why people may not cycle, such as it’s too hilly, I can’t carry my shopping, I am picking up my children, I don’t have time or the roads are too busy and dangerous. The good news is that for many of these worries there are now practical solutions.


This is Week 4 of our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps.  We will have a guest blog each week until November’s UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps.

This week, Susheel Rao, local sustainability consultant and Breeze champion, outlines the benefits of taking the step of ‘Walking and Cycling More’. In particular, she looks at how to get past the barriers that stop you jumping on a bike.


Did you know that a significant amount of our journeys are 5 miles or less – distances it is possible to do by bike or walking? Add to that the fact that, in the first five minutes, cars are at their least efficient, and it is clear that short car journeys are something we should all look at if we want to cut our carbon footprint.

Walking and cycling doesn’t even have to take more time for short journeys. To compare like with like, factor in the traffic and the time it can take to find a parking space compared to the length of journey (especially if you don’t have allocated parking at home). When you add in the fact that you are actually combining exercise with something else you need to do, then changing how we do short journeys becomes very compelling.

“…short car journeys are something we should all look at if we want to cut our carbon footprint.”

Choose walking for journeys of less than 1 mile

Where I live in Harpenden, I find it as quick (or sometimes quicker) to walk into town to the shops (or café or pub) as driving there. It’s the time it takes to park, and sitting in traffic if I am going in at a busy time. For anything up to a mile, I find it quicker and easier to walk than any other type of transport, while between 1 and 2 miles it’s a toss up between walking and cycling.

With both walking and cycling, I feel better, less stressed and more connected to the outside world and am more likely to come back energised than if I drive.

1 to 5 miles – look at cycling in a new way

Cycling is clearly a better way of getting around for these shorter journeys than a car. Yet, what stops us cycling more? How do we get round the barriers we feel prevent us from swapping a car for a bike?

1. There are bikes for every job!

Hills, shopping and children – all reasons we looked at in the introduction as to why cycling at first glance seems just too tricky. However, there are different bikes to help you with different problems, depending on what’s holding you back.

There is a whole range now of electric-assist bikes, from a standard bike, to a ‘cargo’ bike, where you may have a large basket, trailer, or even space for your children to sit. I regularly see someone cycling through Harpenden using one of these, often with her children in the front. An electric bike can help with the hills, carrying things and, of course, your speeds may be slightly quicker, saving you time.

Photo by Mark Stosberg on Unsplash

You don’t have to go for an electric bike. There are plenty of options for a traditional bike – from the shopper bike with basket, to road bikes and mountain bikes, and just about anything you can imagine in between. If you are buying a new-to-you bike, key things to think about are:
● make sure it fits you (it is so much more comfortable riding a bike that is set up for you!)
● what you want to do – whether that is cycle on roads, tracks or trails, whether you want to carry things on your bike, whether you will be leaving it in public places.
● how much you want to spend – and whether you are happy with second-hand, or whether you can borrow a bike to see how you get on.
I suggest going and talking to someone in one of the excellent local bike shops, who will give you an idea of the best type of bike for what you want.

“An electric bike can help you with hills, carrying things and […] saving you time.”

2. Finding bike-safe routes

We do have some car-free cycle ways in St Albans district, such as between St Albans and Harpenden, Swan Walk between Harpenden and Luton, and the Alban Way which goes to Hatfield. We also have the Nicky Line between Harpenden, Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead, although this is not fully paved. In St Albans there is the green ring, and hopefully we will soon be seeing a route between St Albans and Redbourn.

Have a look on the Sustrans website for routes around the district, and the UK.

St Albans Council has local maps and routes on their website which include the St Albans cycle route map

3. Getting your cycling confidence up

If you are worried about cycling by yourself on the road, you can build your confidence by joining a group ride.

British Cycling, in partnership with HSBC, support volunteers to run rides for different ages and levels of riding experience. Go to letsride.co.uk to see what rides are happening locally.

There are usually a number of Breeze rides, which are women only, and range from beginners (usually under 10 miles, and avoiding main roads if there are any roads at all), to rides of lengths from 15 miles to 50 miles. Average speeds can be 8 mph or under to 12 or 14 mph or more. We are a friendly group of champs who run them, and we try to make them enjoyable and sociable, stopping for a drink and a snack along the way when it is possible. (COVID has reduced this recently, but that too will change). Try 5 miles to Fabulous usually running from Morrisons in St Albans; many other rides leave from either Harpenden or Redbourn. You can also join the HSBC UK Breeze Harpenden & St Albans Facebook Group.

For men, there are the general social rides on the same website (letsride.co.uk), which are again led rides of differing lengths and for different abilities, so there should be something for everyone.

4. Does your bike need servicing?

I know what happens though: you have a bike but you haven’t ridden it for ages, you wheel it out of the shed, and it’s got a flat tyre, there is a squeak and you are tempted to wheel it back in again and forget about it.

Please don’t! ☺

If you don’t feel confident yourself, take it to one of our great local bikes shops, or use one of the local mobile cycle mechanics who come to you house and sort out your bike (either there or picking it up and taking it away). There are lots locally, just a few examples (in alphabetical order) are:

Get your bike a good service, learn how to do basic repairs in case you need to (mainly a puncture) and have a Plan B to get home in the worst case that you can’t repair it (in other words a taxi service: whether that is a friend, family member or proper taxi!)

5. Nowhere to store your bike?

If you don’t think you have space in your home to store your bike, you may want to look at alternative solutions. There are a number of systems which mean you can put your bike on a wall (outside or in). Cycling News has an interesting article on different bike storage options. One example is Cycloc. You can also get bespoke safe outside storage systems for your garden or drive.

Another option is through an approach to St Albans District Council, who are currently taking requests for “bread bin” on-street bike storage in the district. Complete the short form here to express interest in an On-Street Locked Bicycle Hangar (AKA Shared Secure Bicycle Cage).

Photo: Cyclehoop

6. Feeling a bit wobbly on your bike?

Then just go for a little ride: find somewhere quiet and have a go. You don’t need much kit to get started – I strongly recommend a helmet, but other than that it’s a pair of trainers, and a bright/ reflective top so people can see you if you are on the road. Ask a friend to join you. Cycle down the Nicky line, Swan Walk or Alban Way to get a coffee somewhere different and have a chat.

“… go for a little ride: find somewhere quiet and have a go.”

As you get more confident, start using your bike for short trips, where it is a bit long to walk, or you need to get there a bit quicker. And hopefully you will enjoy it, want to do more, and then the world is your oyster -you could go anywhere!

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

Join in today and use Susheel’s advice to help you choose the “Walk and Cycle More” Step as your pledge.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

We will have a blog every Sunday until the international climate talks in November, COP26. Each blog will focus on one of the 16 steps. Look out for next week’s blog on eating more plants by Herts Ad columnist, Becky Alexander.