Say yes to low-traffic neighbourhoods near you!

Government research shows that 8 out of 10 people support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood – now it’s time to tell the Greater Cambridge Partnership that you want the same.

Families use the Carlyle Road modal filter
Families use the modal filter on Carlyle Road

Earlier in the year, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) began to introduce experimental measures to provide safe space for walking and cycling during the pandemic. Ideas gathered from communities as part of Camcycle’s Spaces to Breathe campaign helped inform what measures were installed and where. The trial schemes installed by the GCP consist of modal filters on Carlyle Road, Nightingale Avenue, Luard Road and Storey’s Way, an extended bus gate on Silver Street (it now operates 24/7) and some new restrictions on motor traffic movements in the Newtown area (such as Bateman Street). Originally concrete barriers were put in place in many of these locations, but these have since been replaced with more attractive planters.

What do the experimental measures do?

The ‘modal filters’ installed were designed to remove through motor traffic from selected streets, giving those travelling on foot, by cycle or using a mobility aid more space to spread out and maintain safe distances from others as well as minimising the risk of road danger from motor vehicles. As well as providing immediate support for those walking and cycling during the pandemic, an additional aim was to encourage more people to choose active travel for their everyday journeys and, in the process, tackle issues such as congestion, health and air pollution. If these new active travel routes are a success, more may be rolled out as part of tranche two of the Covid-19 active travel scheme and to support the longer-term changes required by the GCP’s city access project.

What do local people think?

A quieter, safer Silver Street following the trial of a 24/7 bus gate

Despite some initial worries before implementation, we’ve heard that these schemes have been welcomed by residents who are now enjoying quieter streets and safer journeys. We’d like to see a whole network of cycling and walking routes across the county enabled by measures like this, so that everyone is able to benefit from low-traffic neighbourhoods in the places where they live and work.

Comments to Camcycle on the GCP modal filters include:

“I love shopping in the market. I’m very pleased about the current closure [to through motor traffic] in Silver Street because it’s a narrow street of course and quite dangerous when cars are rushing along it. I feel safer now going along there.”

“The road closures in Newtown have made a huge difference to congestion in the area. Previously, every morning and every evening, there was queuing traffic on Brookside for a couple of hours. Since the road’s been closed to through-traffic, that’s pretty much gone completely. The queuing traffic before meant that there was a vast number of cars sitting around with their engines idling for a significant portion of the day and having that gone is a huge benefit to everyone around here. There are a lot of people who work in this area, a lot of people who live here, elderly homes, lots and lots of schools – so to have idling cars and the associated pollution can’t have been a good thing at all for all those people.

I think the location of Newtown means that really the amount of driving that happens in this area should be very limited – it’s very close to the city centre, there’s good cycling infrastructure, good public transport infrastructure in the area, so most people shouldn’t need to drive around. I see the closures as a benefit to the people who live and work here and I’m hoping they will continue in the future.”

“It’s been really nice to see some of my favourite streets which I’ve always liked walking and cycling along just become even better. When I’m walking or cycling into the city centre I go down Carlyle Road and it’s just so lovely to see now that pretty much the only traffic on that street is other people walking and cycling. I hope that it becomes permanent.

Since the modal filter’s gone in on Storey’s Way, I’ve also really enjoyed cycling there on my way to work. I’d often get ‘close passed’ by people driving or find people driving quite aggressively, so it’s really lovely now it’s so quiet – it’s just people cycling. So many kids cycling to school along there with their parents and even young kids just getting started on their bikes!

To champion these low-traffic neighbourhoods, please share your views on the GCP’s consultation survey today. The consultation closes at midday on Friday 18 December.
High numbers of positive comments for these schemes will help unlock support for future schemes creating liveable streets and safe routes for walking and cycling.