Camcycle welcomes the fact that Cambridgeshire County Council have begun work on temporary enhancements to support more walking and cycling in the region. However, we call on the council to draw on all available expertise, including the experience of its own cycling officers, to ensure that improvements are correctly designed to be safe for all users and achieve the goals of reducing car journeys and creating healthy streets as we emerge from lockdown. This will allow communities to continue to benefit from improved air quality, help people gain physical and mental health benefits from outdoor exercise and contribute to rebuilding the economy by minimising congestion and creating safe areas to queue outside shops.
We are concerned that the temporary schemes delivered last weekend on Milton High Street and Girton Road were done without the input of the cycling project team officers, nor Camcycle, and therefore are tokenistic efforts which do little to create the safe, physically-distanced routes mandated by government. The statutory guidance released on 9 May states that:
“Facilities should be segregated as far as possible, i.e. with physical measures separating cyclists and other traffic. Lanes indicated by road markings only are very unlikely to be sufficient to deliver the level of change needed, especially in the longer term.”
Narrow advisory painted lanes, such as those added in Milton and Girton offer no protection from motor traffic and are potentially more unsafe than no lanes at all, encouraging drivers to treat the cycle lane marking as the edge of the carriageway and pass dangerously close to riders. The new lanes are also beginning to be blocked by parked cars.
Camcycle has written to the county council asking them to halt work that does not meet the government’s standards and which we believe will need to be undone at unnecessary cost. We urge them to begin by planning a temporary network based on the key corridors for essential journeys to ensure new schemes make the most efficient use of limited resources. We call on them to draw on established best practice (including recent examples from across the UK), in-house professional expertise and local knowledge to inform their programme of temporary measures.
Executive Director, Roxanne De Beaux, said: “Suggestions gathered from Camcycle members, supporters and our partners across the region as part of our Spaces to Breathe campaign helped the county council draft their original list of options for temporary schemes, but to date we are not clear on what progress the county has made with our ideas. We call on them to continue to collaborate as they begin to install experimental measures. The county’s own cycling officers have already completed significant work on the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan which would make an excellent start for identifying corridors that should be prioritised. It’s vital that we move forward with the most critical and cost-effective initiatives and avoid wasting further time and money on unsafe narrow cycle lanes.”