THERE has been a lot of talk about Herefordshire Council’s new active travel measures in Hereford city centre.

The aim is to encourage more people to walk and cycle into the city, while giving them space to maintain social distancing – two metres where possible.

To do this, parts of some roads in the city centre have been closed, such as King Street and Bridge Street, parking bays removed to widen pavements, and the Old Bridge closed to cars and restricted to one-way for buses and taxis heading north.


There has been criticism from businesses, with Luke Conod from city shops FIT Menswear and the School Uniform Shop organising a protest for the shop owners, who say they’ve seen a drop in footfall in the surrounding streets.

The council insists it is listening to the concerns of businesses and members of the public, and last week removed bus and cycle lanes on Commercial Road.

Hereford Times: Cross-Hereford challenge: Herefordshire Council's traffic upheavals have caused controversy. We put a route to the test by car, bike, bus and on footCross-Hereford challenge: Herefordshire Council's traffic upheavals have caused controversy. We put a route to the test by car, bike, bus and on foot

fter the measures were first implemented in July, the council’s cabinet member for infrastructure and transport John Harrington said the council was following advice from the Government.

He said the council wanted to provide as much space to cyclists and pedestrians as possible to encourage people to use alternatives to the car.

But are the new measures actually any good?

Hereford Times journalists Ben Goddard, James Thomas, Theresa Brandeberry and Philippa May hatched a plan to try out the new measures by travelling from Tesco in Belmont to the country bus station off Commercial Road.

With each using a different mode of transport, it gave a snapshot of what a journey across the city might be like and what we felt is the best way to do it.

Admittedly, it was only what the two-mile journey was like on Tuesday, and as we know, Hereford traffic can differ vastly from day to day. But it does, we feel, give a relatively good overview of a typical trip across the city.

Although for those living outside of Hereford there is little option but to drive, for those in the city our trial showed it was realistic to ditch the car in favour of being more active.

Here's how we got on:

Hereford Times: Cross-Hereford challenge: Ben GoddardCross-Hereford challenge: Ben Goddard

Ben Goddard, cycle
Journey time: 12 minutes

THE BELMONT Road traffic gods would have to be on my side if bike was going to beat car in a race into Hereford.

As the time ticked further past 9am I knew my chances of proving that bike was best were getting slimmer, or I would have to ride faster.

Getting under way I was already ahead leaving Tesco carpark, choosing to ride up the ramp adjacent to Belmont Road while the Philippa in her car joined the queue of traffic.

However, I was well aware that the race wasn’t won. Who challenges a sports editor to a race anyway?

Riding down the Great Western Way, the crowds of parents walking their children to school, which had slowed my journey out to Belmont earlier in the morning, had disappeared.

Travelling over the old railway bridge, I looked across and saw more traffic on the new bridge. I could be in luck.

After turning off the cycle path which had been so quick I had to cut across Hereford coming out by the Courtyard.

Immediately, I hit red lights on the City Link Road and as a good cyclist, of course, I waited.

Three red lights later I was on Commercial Road using the cycle lane which has now been painted over.

Turning into Hereford bus station, I looked around and was delighted to see none of my colleagues had arrived.

Sweaty, out of breath but victorious!

Several minutes later after I had just caught my breath Philippa arrived in her car after a comfortable journey.

It made me wonder who was the real winner here.

However, my journey hadn’t cost me a penny and had helped towards my daily exercise while also helping the environment and kept one extra car off the Hereford roads.

Hereford Times: Cross-Hereford challenge: Philippa MayCross-Hereford challenge: Philippa May

Philippa May, car
Journey time: 16 minutes

LIVING in Grosmont, 15 miles from Hereford, means that getting on my bike or taking to my feet are fairly impractical means of reaching the city centre.

Which, if I’m trying to be more environmentally friendly, leaves the bus – incredibly infrequent and not headed exactly where I want to go.

So it’ll have to be the car all the way for me, and, as it turned out on Tuesday morning it’s still a fairly efficient way to get across Hereford. 

Leaving the car park at Tesco Belmont at 9.15am, the most time-consuming element of the journey was, as I’d expected, the crawl down Belmont Road – a distance of just 0.9 miles, which took 11 minutes to cover.

Mind you, as anyone who has had to use that route knows, 11 minutes is a pretty decent time – in the pre-coronavirus world, a rush-hour trip from Tesco to Asda could take anything up to half an hour... followed by only slightly less slow progress over the bridge.

From the Asda roundabout it was plain sailing across Greyfriars Bridge, with little in the way of traffic, barely a queue at the Steel’s lights and on into a virtually empty New Market Street.

A minute later and I was pulling into the bus station car park, where I encountered a victorious Ben, who’d well and truly proved that the bike is king, though he might have added a minute or two to his time if he’d been on a Beryl Bike! 

I also ran into the only problem – a total lack of parking spaces.

And then the wait was on. Ben had made it in 12 minutes, and I arrived four minutes later, clocking a time of 16 minutes – a decent speed of 15mph... if I’d been running!

Google Maps says I could cycle from Grosmont to Hereford Country Bus Station in something under two hours, but I think I’ll pass. 

Hereford Times: Cross-Hereford challenge: James ThomasCross-Hereford challenge: James Thomas

James Thomas, walking
Journey time: 34 minutes

ANYONE who lives outside of Hereford won’t be a fan of driving to the edge of the city and walking the rest of the way, but it might be worth considering.

Day parking in Hereford can cost £5 or more, but there are plenty of spots in Belmont or at Aylestone Park if you fancy walking the rest of the way.

From Belmont Tesco, it is a short jaunt down the A465 before breaking off and going up onto Great Western Way.

Lined with trees and away from the road, it was a pleasant walk down there, dodging the occasional cyclist.

But by this point, news had already reached me that the cycle journey had been quickest, with a very chuffed message from Ben.

I then had the pleasures of the views over the river Wye as I made my way towards the Old Bridge – one of the main things affected by Herefordshire Council’s active travel measures.

It is seldom used by vehicles, with only buses or taxis heading north allowed across, so there is plenty of space to socially distance – the whole aim of the closure.

The same goes for King Street. The widened pavements mean keeping two metres away from others on foot is an easy ask, and it helps keep everyone safe.

I carried on through Cathedral Green and down pretty Church Street.

A bustling High Town awaited at the end, but again there were no problems socially distancing. I was then back walking alongside a main road as I headed down Commercial Road, arriving in the bus station to find the car had also beaten me by a considerable margin.

Overall, it was a really nice route but predictably slower than the bike and car.

If I lived in Belmont, walking into the city on a nice day would be my preferred choice.

Hereford Times: Cross-Hereford challenge: Theresa BrandeberryCross-Hereford challenge: Theresa Brandeberry

Theresa Brandeberry, bus
Journey time: 1 hour 3 minutes

IT has been quite a long time since I travelled on a bus, possibly 24 years!
But very little has changed.

I waited at the bus stop just outside Tesco, Belmont, at 9.15am, and the Yeomans bus arrived at 9.52am, a wait longer than expected.

As I boarded, mask in place, I was surprised to find that fares are still being sold on a cash-only basis.

After scrabbling around in the bottom of my bag, delaying the bus driver further and possibly irritating other passengers, I managed to find the change.

Other bus users were chatty and polite, with one lady from Belmont travelling in to Hereford for the first time in six months.

She appeared to be surprised at how long we had to wait, but happy to wear a mask.

“Coronavirus is not my immediate worry, but the fumes from waiting on the busy Belmont Road for 35 minutes is a concern,” she said.

My bus journey was uneventful but pleasant, taking me around parts of Hunderton I haven’t seen before and then pausing for a while in St Peter’s Square.

At 10.18am we pulled up at the bottom of Commercial Road.

I had lost the challenge – spectacularly – coming in 29 minutes later than James, who walked the route.

I contacted Herefordshire Council and Yeomans Travel to ask if the service frequency was as expected, as the poster on the bus and the council website clearly says that services have increased from September 2.

I am still awaiting a reply. Herefordshire Council has been allocated £245,064 of funding for the 2020-21 financial year.

The funding is being provided to local authorities from the Department of Transport to help support bus services affected by Covid-19.

What we learned

THE car was a tad slower than the bike in our race across Hereford, mainly because Belmont Road was predictably sluggish, but the new travel measures from Herefordshire Council should give people food for thought.

It means walking across the Old Bridge, whether from your house south of the river or one of the car parks in St Martin’s Street, is a more pleasant experience.

The council has achieved its aim of giving more space for social distancing, and fewer cars should make people feel safer.

The impact businesses say they have felt has been reported by this newspaper, but these measures are about changing the way people get into the city.

It is now more tempting to walk or cycle, but this needs to be weighed against the impact on shops.