Transport Strategy – our response

Our response to the County Council's Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire has now been sent and published.

Please respond to the consultation – we hope you will echo the points we make.

Our key message is that the cycleway network in Cambridge needs to be developed to very high standards, with particular emphasis on the main roads. Reallocation of roadspace and demand management measures to control commuter and other parking, need to go hand-in-hand. By reducing traffic volumes, and making streets more pleasant, these measures would create the conditions where some 40-45% of trips in Cambridge could be made by bike.

Altogether, this will increase the total carrying capacity of the street network to cater for the massive housing growth that is now happening. This will only be achieved if more difficult political decisions are made (for example the boldness shown over the now very successful Core Scheme), rather than the compromise which has often not solved congestion problems. This is a win-win situation not only for those now cycling, but for health, public transport, and essential users of motor transport.

We believe that the opportunity to create cycle routes to the best of continental standards is achievable and that Cambridge and the surrounding area can then be seen as a model for elsewhere in the UK. Cycle provision alongside roads should not be suitable only for either “confident” or “less confident” cyclists but instead be fully suitable for everyone, by being direct, attractive, safe and maintaining priority at junctions.

We are very concerned that the standard of the modelling work fails to show the huge benefits to all modes, including public transport and other essential users of motor vehicles, of significant shifts to cycling.

Our key policy recommendations are as follows:

The Strategy needs to:

  • Go further than an aspiration for an “improved system of…safe and direct cycle routes”. It must instead commit to “Creating the leading cycle network in the UK, with new and upgraded infrastructure matching Dutch standards”.
  • Set a clear target of 40-45% of trips within Cambridge, and 30% of trips in the ‘necklace’ villages to be made by bike, which should be infused into all transport and planning decisions.
  • Make clear that the objective of the transport policy is to move people in a sustainable manner, even if this reduces capacity for private motor vehicles.

The Strategy should:

  • Differentiate between ‘Walking’ and ‘Cycling’. For too long, walking and cycling have been lumped together. This is now inappropriate in a city where almost one-third of journeys are by bicycle. Cycling is the quickest mode for many trips under 5 miles especially when reliability of journey time is considered. We do not undervalue the benefits of walking, both for health and the environment, but it is only by providing far better cycling facilitates that more will see it as a good alternative to the private car.
  • Demonstrate that cycling is by far the most cost-effective way to cater for the County’s growth strategy.
  • Show the benefits to both physical and mental health of ‘Active Travel’.

Together with the relevant Local Plans it should:

  • Ensure that every new housing development around Cambridge is built to the highest standard of cycle provision as a matter of course.
  • Require higher standards of advice given to and by the City Council and South Cambridgeshire DC planning departments. Every poor decision about cycling provision can last for decades, especially where.that is claimed by others as a precedent.
  • Require that drivers of large vehicles (HGVs and buses) have training in ‘Safe Urban Driving”. This could be as part of the ‘Considerate Contractors’ scheme (under planning guidance), part of ‘Quality Public Transport Partnerships’ provision, and for all employees or contractors to relevant local authorities who drive large vehicles. The similar changes within London for drivers of buses and HGVs should be used as a template.
  • Progress a series of high quality cycle routes on (or adjacent to) major roads, and to link villages both to the City and each other. We’ve proposed a Greater Cambridge Cycleway Network which would form a series of concentric rings around the city that connect adjacent villages as well as forming a proper series of radial cycleways into Cambridge. Outside the urban area it should be accepted that Compulsory Purchase Orders are used for agricultural land, rather than have substandard, or indirect routes. Within the city traffic reduction should go hand-in-hand with reallocation of roadspace to more sustainable modes.
  • Progress the Chisholm Trail as quickly as resources permit. This linear park, blending subtly into the local environment, to provide a safe cycling and walking route that would take many cars off the road, freeing space for more essential users.
  • Encourage the provision of bulk break, consolidation, or transhipment facilities, to enable the onward shipment of goods in more appropriate vehicles, be they human or electric powered, or simply of a more appropriate size.

Standards of cycle routes

  • Cycle provision should be equivalent to those of the Dutch or Danes, and this should be added to the Strategy as a clear policy statement.
  • All off-road routes whatever the flow should be wide enough to enable an adult with young child beside to be passed by a more confident person, all of whom are on cycles.
  • For rural routes with an expected flow of more than 1,000 trips per day an absolute minimum of three metres should be required. We should use ‘predict and provide’. Too many recent facilities for those on cycles (for example the Shelford to Addenbrooke’s path) have soon been overloaded by increasing use (due to much suppressed demand).
  • Design should permit use both by the confident and those new to cycling, with good visibility, no sharp or unexpected turns and priority over side roads.