Camcycle welcomes the publication of the Greenways report. We believe a network of high-quality radial routes from surrounding towns and villages is vital to the future of transport in and around Cambridge. We are pleased to see recognition of the value cycling can add to villages and towns beyond the city in the ambition of this Greenways network.
The importance of such routes is ably demonstrated by the busway route from St Ives to north Cambridge. This is very busy as both a commuter and leisure route. Villages along the route have higher levels of cycle use than those at a similar distance from Cambridge without a high-quality link – for example levels of cycling are low in Bar Hill (3%) compared to Oakington, Longstanton and Swavesey where 6% cycle (2011 census figures).
All the routes highlighted in the report are good suggestions which have huge potential to increase cycling between Cambridge and its satellite villages. Camcycle looks forward to working with the City Deal on the detail for these routes to ensure they achieve their full potential. Members have highlighted some points where they would like to see more, such as links to Madingley and orbital connections. In the upcoming weeks Camcycle volunteers will have opportunity to fully assess the report to give considered feedback.
While the Greenways are an exciting development for cycling within Cambridgeshire, members have expressed concerns that the standards proposed are too low. As the report notes, the guide Making Space for Cycling, written by Camcycle for Cyclenation, has an aspiration of 5m width for such routes, especially where shared with people riding horses or walking in significant numbers. Whilst we recognise that in places this may not be achievable, settling for 2m wide at this stage, before any negotiation, is setting things up for poor-quality facilities. Various junction designs contained within the report are also questionable, potentially creating unnecessary hazards that will unfortunately deter people from using the Greenways. We hope that the City Deal will work with Camcycle as the proposals move forwards to achieve the high standards that will enable riders of all ages and abilities to use these routes, and so make the Greenways truly transformational for cycling.
Wide direct routes that are separated from fast traffic, especially where they cross fast roads and motorway slip roads, will encourage not just cycle commuting in and out of Cambridge but will improve inter-village links, useful for children getting to schools and village colleges, and improving the social cohesion of our villages by supporting local shops and pubs. Enabling these trips to be made by cycle will bring wider benefits for many others. Reduction of private motor vehicle journeys will alleviate congestion for those who continue driving. Fewer motor vehicle trips will additionally reduce local air and noise pollution.
We urge the City Deal to use this as a starting point and would like to see the Assembly and Board strive for higher standards for width and for safety of junctions and crossings. Let’s see the ambition in this report turned into a world-class cycle network.