The main path through Cassiobury Park - from Rickmansworth Road to the rustic bridge – is now open to all park users, following Watford Borough Council’s decision to designate it as a permissive cycle path.
Whilst cycling was previously allowed on some paths within Cassiobury, there was no way to cycle to the Hub, the paddling pools, the river or canal or through to Whippendell Woods. With cycling becoming an increasingly popular way for people to keep fit and healthy and a greener alternative to the car,
the council asked the local community for their views on opening up the path, known as Footpath 30, as a shared space for all park users to enjoy.
Sharing the path was seen as the most positive way forward with people recognising it would only be a success if all park users showed consideration for others. Suggestions also included good, clear signage and a ‘code of practice for cyclists’ that sets out clearly what is, and isn’t, acceptable cycling behaviour within Cassiobury.
The council also sought the advice of Friends of Cassiobury Park and disability users before granting the permissive right for cyclists.
Elected Mayor, Peter Taylor said: “Cassiobury is nationally recognised as an outstanding park that attracts people of all ages and interests. Cycling is already a big part of many visits to Cassiobury, which reflects its growing importance as a green way to travel and a great way to keep fit. We have opened up the route to the Hub, the paddling pools and the river as a shared community space, which works successfully in many other local and national parks, where people show consideration for all park users and each other.
“We have worked closely with Friends of Cassiobury Park to open up the path to shared use that is sensitive to the needs of everyone who visits the park.”
Commenting on the change, the Friends said: “The Friends of Cassiobury Park have recognised for some time that a new approach to cycling in the park is needed. Shared use is quite a major change from the previous policy of very limited cycling routes across the park. However, cycling now takes place on all paths anyway and the use of bikes for transport, recreation and exercise has been encouraged in support of the green agenda. The Friends have provided input to Watford Borough Council on the introduction of the new scheme and a number of our proposals are being carried out. Some of the changes will be in place at the same time as the introduction of the new Beryl bike hiring scheme.
“Our primary concern has been the safety of park users. We have stressed that pedestrians and their animals have priority and that this is shown clearly in signage and in a cycling code of good practice. We were also keen that the number of Beryl Bikes available in the park should be limited and that the main path from the Rickmansworth Road to the Rustic Bridge should not be widened. Watford Council have listened and acted on our feedback and we therefore hope that the new scheme will work safely for all users of the park”.
Nonetheless, we will monitor the scheme and we need to ensure that the policy and investment includes all paths in the park and not just the main path from the town”.