Making Space for People in Cambridge

The Making Space for People Project is an opportunity for cyclists to have their say on the future of Cambridge’s city centre, and there are two weeks left to express your views.

Cambridge City Council is developing a Making Space for People supplementary planning document (SPD) in consultation with the community. They are asking how the streets and spaces in central Cambridge can be improved to suit the people living, working and visiting there. Cllr Katie Thornburrow says the City Council wants to ‘make life easier for pedestrians and cyclists’, and this is your opportunity to contribute your thoughts.

The SPD will guide the delivery and prioritisation of future improvements to key public spaces in central Cambridge. In particular, it will focus on enabling sustainable transport options such as walking and cycling, safeguarding the character of existing spaces, and identifying opportunities to make better use of space. An early report found that the city centre is not living up to its potential in terms of public space, many streets are overly dominated by motor vehicles, and people walking and cycling are forced into conflict over the remaining scraps of space. Cambridge City Council would like you to read the Central Cambridge Vision, Aims and Objectives and Strategies document and let them know what would make central Cambridge a safer and better place to cycle, by responding to their five questions found in Parts 2-4. We encourage you to read the document and contribute your suggestions to the consultation. To help, we’ve outlined some of our ideas below.

The online feedback form is divided into five parts, and asks five questions. Each of the questions comes with no more than 1-2 pages of well-illustrated information, so they are easily tackled.

Part One is simply an introduction and does not ask a question.

Part Two asks: what will make Central Cambridge a great place to be in? It identifies the components of a ‘Livable City’ as including: walkability, vibrant public art and culture, public health, strong social life, economic and social benefits, adaptation for climate and biodiversity, and good air quality. We agree with the importance of all of these things, and would further highlight how cycling enhances or complements every single one of these liveability components. The document mentions in passing cycling in connection with walkability, the economy and public health. We would add that cycling is the only mode of transport faster than walking that can bring people and goods from a much wider area into central Cambridge in a peaceful way that conserves the environment, air quality and the historic nature of the city centre.

Part Three simply asks: have we got the ‘street user hierarchy’ right? The hierarchy of needs is listed from highest priority to lowest priority as: pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users, specific service and delivery vehicle drivers, and finally other motor vehicle drivers. This is the same hierarchy as proposed by Manual for Streets and it is in line with our priorities as well, therefore we support this street user hierarchy. Accessibility is crucial for both pedestrians and cyclists and considerations for people with disabilities must be included when designing facilities for walking or cycling. For example, cycle parking facilities should include spaces for people who use recumbents, handcycles or other forms of adapted cycles that provide a mobility aid.

Part Four raises three questions. First, it asks if you agree with the following vision statement: ‘Central Cambridge should be a healthy, vibrant and engaging place that is accessible, well run and welcoming to residents and visitors alike.’ Second, it breaks the vision down into five aims and objectives: a city that is green, healthy, equitable, welcoming and well-curated. Each of these is expanded with a few lines of description, and you are asked if they have identified the right aims and objectives for the project. Third, and finally, the document lists 13 strategies for achieving those aims and objectives, and asks for comments on these. For example, strategy 5 is: ‘Re-appraise the location and function of central car parks and access to and from them to minimise impacts on the enjoyment of the city centre for pedestrians and cyclists and the reliability of bus journeys.’ This seems particularly important given that there is currently a live planning application to rebuild the Park Street Car Park in place, and that may be decided and fixed into place for the next fifty years prior to any report from this consultation.

The deadline for the consultation is 5pm on Monday 14 October. You can have your say in the consultation using the online feedback form via www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations or by calling the city council on 01223 347200 for a form.