Creating a great cycling and walking route between Luton and Harpenden

A safe alternative to the busy Lower Harpenden Road, along the line of a dismantled railway
The challenge

The former Luton, Dunstable and Welwyn Junction Railway was opened in 1860 and closed in 1965. During the 1980s, access rights for walkers were negotiated and the Upper Lea Valley Walk was officially opened in 1989. Whilst this was good news for walkers, cyclists still had to use the busy and dangerous Lower Harpenden Road to travel between Luton and Harpenden. Sustrans had been working for several years to extend access rights to the path for cyclists.

The solution

The improvements Sustrans have made to this walking and cycling route are fantastic. The surface is much better and it’s a great alternative to travelling on the busy road. Because the route follows the old railway line it’s an easy and direct way to travel into the city centre. Hopefully more routes like this will be developed in the future.

- Alex Jowett

Sustrans worked with local authorities to create a five mile walking and cycling route from Luton Parkway Station to the centre of Harpenden. The route predominantly follows the line of the dismantled railway with a signed on-road section leading into Harpenden. The work included filling in gaps in the traffic-free route, building a new foot and cycle bridge over the Lower Harpenden Road and improving road crossings. The route forms part of National Routes 56 and 7.

The difference

The new route is proving very popular with local residents both for leisure trips and everyday journeys. Many people commute between the two towns, particularly from residential areas in Harpenden to workplaces in Luton such as Capability Green just off National Cycle Route 6. The new route is enabling them to do this by bike or on foot. Children in Luton are also using it as a safe and enjoyable way to get from home to school on the northern fringe of Harpenden.

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