‘Tackling Cambridge Congestion’ – Our response to the City Deal proposals

We support measures to reduce congestion, thereby creating a safer environment for cycling. Cycling will also play a key part in reducing congestion. Whatever action is taken to reduce congestion we expect to play a key part in ensuring good provision to enable more people to cycle.

Our full response:

Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign) supports the general concept of reducing the volume of car traffic within the city centre, especially to help run more frequent and reliable buses and to provide additional space for cycling and walking.

Solving congestion is a difficult task and we think it is positive that the City Deal is using experimentation to trial options before proceeding to major infrastructure projects. Should these measures have the impact anticipated by the City Deal then there should be no need for destructive works such as bus-lanes on residential streets like Milton Road thus leaving more room for trees and segregated cycle lanes.

Whatever congestion reduction measures are taken in Cambridge; we expect continuing involvement in this process to ensure the best possible provision is made for people who cycle in Cambridge.  

Detailed response

Camcycle is a charity with over 1,200 fee-paying members that promotes better, safer and more cycling within and around Cambridge. We advocate infrastructure that serves people of all ages and abilities who want to cycle as a means of transportation. Safe infrastructure includes: separate cycle lanes protected from motor traffic; junctions having safe and segregated provisions for walking and cycling; quiet streets where people can walk and ride in peace; and much more.

Cambridge is a historic city with a compact centre, many pleasant neighbourhoods, a grand heritage of common land and open spaces, and small, human-scale streets that are an essential part of its character. Increasing numbers of motor vehicles circulating in Cambridge threaten to degrade the city, destroy its character, and block the provision of crucial services and deliveries.

The response from the City Deal is the “Tackling Cambridge Congestion” consultation, which is a package of many measures, so our response will be divided into parts. Firstly, we can gladly say that we support better cycling and walking, and we look forward to providing feedback on those schemes and having a continuing conversation. We support better public transport but not necessarily by all methods the City Deal has proposed; we believe that a much better outcome can be achieved without destructive road widening that ruins the environment for walking, cycling and living in those neighbourhoods. We support the use of Smart Technology and Travel Planning to help people who are walking, cycling or riding public transport. We support improvements to public spaces and air quality, and we believe that proper cycling infrastructure can enhance both of those. The remaining measures will be addressed in more detail.

On-street Parking Control:

Many commuters have taken to circulating through residential neighbourhoods looking for free parking spaces, instead of using the designated Park-and-Ride car parks or other alternatives. We support measures that prevent commuters from abusing residential streets in this way, while not obstructing neighbourhood business and personal trips. Park-and-Rides should be promoted for all multi-modal trips including riding public transport and cycling.   

If on-street commuter parking is not controlled, then all other proposed measures will be undermined by commuters spilling over onto unrestricted residential streets. Further discussion on this issue is provided by Smarter Cambridge Transport. bit.ly/act-on-parking

Workplace Parking Levy:

The Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) has been shown to be a success in Nottingham, where it has funded much needed and very effective public transport improvements. With that in mind, we offer support for it under the following conditions: 

  • While the WPL is a fractionally small cost that should not cause undue burden, it is only fair for the raised funds to be ring-fenced and spent on walking, cycling, and public transport improvements useful to people working at businesses within the zone that pays the levy. 

  • The advantage for businesses who pay the levy is that their employees will have access to those investments in walking, cycling and public transport. If a business chooses to leave the WPL zone, then they will not benefit from those investments, except incidentally. We believe that, if properly administered, most businesses will find it more advantageous to be inside the WPL zone than outside of it. 

  • Care must be taken to ensure that disabled persons are not disadvantaged by this scheme, and that people earning lower incomes are either unaffected or see a net benefit (e.g. because a new bus service is subsidised).

Peak-time Congestion Control Points:

Simple geometry tells us that there cannot be unlimited growth in the number of motor vehicles entering Cambridge on a regular basis, for there is only limited space in the city. To prevent our city coming to a congestion induced standstill, we must introduce measures (not necessarily the proposed ones) to persuade some drivers to switch at least some of their trips to more suitable modes. There is evidence to suggest that as little as a 10% change in behaviour could be sufficient to keep motor traffic flowing smoothly. We wish for the following points to be considered:

  • If congestion control points are introduced, we would like to see them done on an experimental basis, following a scientific method, trying different locations and not necessarily all at once. This would contribute to better evidence-based decision making on final outcomes.
  • Essential services such as ambulances, carers, delivery vehicles, and buses are currently mired in congestion. While solving that problem is not directly within our organisation's remit, we are nonetheless people who care about those services and would be negatively affected if they could not be performed properly. It is important that negative effects on these groups should be mitigated in the trial and final implementation of any scheme.
  • Congestion also directly impacts people who cycle. It causes delays due to longer traffic light cycles, adds to pollution and noise, increases danger (real and perceived) when riding amongst traffic, and blocks up roads too narrow or outdated to have dedicated cycle infrastructure. Improving cycling conditions will also encourage modal shift away from cars.
  • For other ideas on how to manage congestion, we refer you to Smarter Cambridge Transport. http://www.smartertransport.uk/

No matter what options are chosen for congestion management, if any, Camcycle is firmly committed to protecting walking, cycling, and a pleasant and accessible environment for people in Cambridge. That means we will push for high-quality cycle lanes, pavements and trees in all City Deal road schemes. We offer our assistance to any business or charity that wants to learn more about how cycling can help them get their work done and perhaps even improve their existing business.

Download our response