The coronavirus pandemic has changed our daily routines, our ways of working and our perspective on life. Cycling has become more important than ever. It’s a way of keeping us physically and mentally healthy, strengthening our communities and reducing air pollution in the places where we live and work. The government and local authorities are asking everyone to walk and cycle where possible to free up space on public transport, and on the roads, for those for those who cannot avoid using motor vehicles. The rebuilding of our local economies depends on reducing congestion in our towns and cities and providing enough space for people to safely travel to, visit, and queue outside businesses. However, with 39% of residents in Greater Cambridge saying they don’t cycle or cycle less often because of concerns about safety, better cycle routes are vital to get more people riding.
Thankfully, those who make decisions about transport in Cambridgeshire seem to have got the message and many cycling improvements will be coming soon to the streets and places near you. Here’s the latest news on more, better and safer cycling for all.
To help more people cycle during the pandemic, local authorities have successfully submitted a bid to the UK government’s emergency active travel fund. This will allow them to create more space for safe walking and cycling through measures such as modal filters, pop-up cycle lanes and school streets. Cambridgeshire County Council and the Greater Partnership (GCP) are beginning to roll out these experimental changes now with local communities able to give feedback on the schemes so that changes can be refined and the successful ones can be made permanent after 18 months.
The full list of schemes includes measures such as:
Modal filters installed across Cambridgeshire including the Newtown area of Cambridge, St Neot’s Road in Hardwick and Quayside and Bridge Street in St Ives.
- Pedestrian improvements including widened pavements at Back Hill in Ely and the High Street in Ramsey, and the removal of constrictive railing at junctions on Shelford Road, East Road and Elizabeth Way in Cambridge.
- Pop-up protected cycle lanes in locations such as Elizabeth Way and Newmarket Road in Cambridge, Forehill in Ely and along the A505 slip road to Granta Park.
- Bus gates in locations such as Mill Road bridge.
The GCP is also investing in other projects to get more people cycling including the provision of additional cycle parking, and trialling schemes to increase the use of e-bikes for commuters and cargo bikes for business.
Longer term, a joined-up cycle network across Greater Cambridge and beyond is vital to maintaining and growing high levels of cycle use among all ages and abilities. Schemes currently underway, or recently approved, which will provide better routes for cycling include:
The Chisholm Trail
Works on Phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail (connecting Cambridge’s two railway stations) continued during the lockdown period, but have inevitably been delayed. The new Abbey Chesterton bridge is expected to be lowered into position in late summer with the jetty link under the railway bridge reopened in the autumn. The Newmarket Road underpass by the Leper Chapel is scheduled for spring 2021, so the full Phase 1 section of the Trail is expected to open later next year. Further sections will be constructed in 2022.
Fendon Road roundabout
Works on the UK’s first Dutch-style roundabout have suffered several setbacks but the new junction, with protected lanes for cyclists, is expected to be fully open later in the summer.
Histon Road cycleways
Works on Histon Road were paused during lockdown but have been restarted and the street is now one-way for motor traffic (but remains two-way for cycles) as construction progresses. The project aims to encourage more people to use sustainable transport along the route with improvements including new cycle lanes and a safer junction design at Gilbert Road/Warwick Road. It is due to be complete in summer 2021.
Milton Road improvements
Final designs for the improvements to Milton Road including better cycleways and junctions have recently been published. Construction on the scheme will not start until after the Histon Road project is finished, and has an expected completion date of 2024.
Madingley Road walking and cycling project
Following a public consultation which clearly demonstrated a preference for the scheme with the most protection for cyclists, the GCP approved development of detailed design work last month. Construction is expected to begin in autumn 2021, with the cycleways open in late 2022.
Greenways cycle routes
Proposals for Greenway cycle, walking and horse-riding routes to Melbourn, Comberton and St Ives were recently approved by the GCP. These routes will help more people cycle to school and work in the local areas and will include both new cycleways and enhancements to existing infrastructure, such as adjustments to the Guided Busway path between Swavesey and St Ives to ensure it is no longer affected by winter flooding. The first bits of construction should begin next year.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps indicated this week that he would bring into effect Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004. This means that ‘moving traffic offences’ such as driving in mandatory cycle lanes, or driving through modal filters, bus gates and school streets, will be subject to enforcement by local authorities as well as the police. Traffic authorities in London already have these powers and have found that they increased levels of enforcement while reducing casualties and improving traffic flow. Camcycle has long campaigned for the implementation of Part 6 as we believe it is vital to improving safety for all cyclists across the region.