Consultation response guide: Combined Authority Local Transport and Connectivity Plan

A range of different local authorities want to hear your views on transport in Cambridgeshire this month. We know that many Camcycle members and supporters appreciate our help in guiding their responses. This is the second in a series of posts looking at the surveys you are invited to fill in. This blogpost gives a summary of all the current consultations, including the deadlines for responding.


The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s consultation on their new vision for transport and connectivity in our region closes on Sunday 28 November 2021.
 

Shortlink: tinyurl.com/TransportPlan2021

Cover of the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan brochure

We’ve looked at the new vision and the consultation questions to help you with your response. Please make sure you respond so that our new Mayor, Dr Nik Johnson, can see how important active travel is for local residents this could have a huge impact on transport strategies and investment over the coming years.

The Combined Authority Local Transport and Connectivity Plan proposes a new vision for our region:

A transport network which secures a future in which the region and its people can thrive.

It must put improved public health at its core, it must help create a fairer society, it must respond to climate change targets, it must protect our environment and clean up our air, and it must be the backbone of sustainable economic growth in which everyone can prosper

And it must bring a region of cities, market towns and very rural areas closer together. 

It will be achieved by investing in a properly joined-up, net zero carbon transport system, which is high quality, reliable, convenient, affordable, and accessible to everyone. Better, cleaner public transport will reduce private car use, and more cycling and walking will support both healthier lives and a greener region. Comprehensive connectivity, including digital improvements, will support a sustainable future for our region’s nationally important and innovative economy.

We support the vision of new Mayor Dr Nik Johnson. However, there have been many great transport visions before. We have yet to see any comprehensive implementation or funding for achieving them. The aims and objectives that go with this vision are also a good start, however we believe the Combined Authority should be bolder and more specific about what they plan to achieve. In the hope that this vision can be realised and that cycling, walking and public transport can be improved, we recommend the following responses to the consultation.

 

  1. Do you understand why the vision for transport needs to be updated?

Suggested answer: Answer as you see fit

Our thoughts: we have yet to see any real action to deal with the significant transport issues in our region. The previous transport vision from the Combined Authority was not bold enough about the strategic role cycling can play in tackling our transport, environmental and health crises. We are pleased to see more recognition of this in the new vision. 

 

  1. How strongly do you believe the updated vision is the right future for transport in the region?

Suggested answer: 4 – Mostly agree

Our thoughts: we’re pleased to see that this vision advocates for more cycling and walking and that it highlights the positive impact of cycling on our environment and health. However, a clearer case could be made for the strategic importance of cycling as a transport mode and as a good way of reducing the impact of travelling on others and reducing the number of cars on the road. The vision must also be explicit that cycling will be improved through the creation of a network of high-quality cycling routes across the region.

 

  1. Would you make any changes to the transport vision? If so, what and why?

We suggest a response along the lines of:

This vision must include an explicit statement about the need to construct a high-quality network of cycling infrastructure to enable the vision of increased cycling. The vision should note that for public transport to attract people out of their cars it must also be frequent. More emphasis should also be placed on the need for integration across transport modes. e.g. cycling to bus stops and railway stations should be as seamless as possible and integrated ticketing systems should also be mentioned. This vision is not bold enough about the need to reduce private car-traffic and the supporting measures that will be required to achieve this including: 

  • Demand management: congestion charging, residential parking schemes, reduction in car parking, increases in car parking charges and workplace parking levies
  • Reprioritisation of our roads to create a network hierarchy: this will include measures such as closing some roads to through motor traffic, and traffic calming

I support Camcycle’s proposal that the second sentence of the fourth paragraph is rewritten to say:

“An integrated system of frequent clean public transport, together with walking and cycling infrastructure, demand management of private cars, and the creation of more active neighbourhoods where the movement of people is prioritised over through traffic, will create healthier lives and a greener region.”

 

Aims & Objectives

These are the aims and objectives to support the Combined Authority’s new vision:

The six objectives for the Combined Authority Local Transport and Connectivity Plan include productivity, connectivity, climate, environment, health and safety

  1. How strongly do you believe the aims and objectives are the right transport priorities?

Suggested answer: 4 – Mostly agree

Our thoughts: the Combined Authority aims and objectives seem good. However, we think there is room for this section to be bolder and more specific. We have outlined our reasons in the suggested text for the next question. 

 

  1. Do you have anything else to say about the aims and priorities? What have we missed?

If you agree, we welcome you to submit your variations of the following text

The Combined Authority aims and objectives are good. However, they should be bolder and more specific, and expand more on the wider benefits from a sustainable transport system. There are also issues that the vision and consultation have failed to address. 

PRODUCTIVITY
There should be a broader and fairer explanation of ‘productivity’ beyond employers to include employees, students and small businesses. Improved local transport, particularly walking and cycling, is good for our local economy and contributes to thriving local high streets. Affordable and accessible transport increases access to employment opportunities. An NHS study showed that people who walked or cycled to work increased their productivity by 15%. This would imply that pedestrian and cycle routes must be provided to all employment and educational sites. It might be better to say: 

“Enabling employees and students to travel to work, school, or college, in ways that make them more productive and more innovative to create more prosperity. Local economies thriving through improved urban realms, reduced congestion and accessible local transport ”

CONNECTIVITY
The connectivity objective misses two concepts related to accessibility. 1) Transport networks should be measured by the employment opportunities, schools, and services a person can access in a given time, without needing a car. The local transport and connectivity plan should aim to improve the range of jobs that somebody can reach in 45 minutes. Neighbourhoods should be built or improved so that people can walk or cycle to the local stores and services in 15 minutes. 2) Walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure must be designed to be used by people of all ages (young and old) and all abilities (including disabled people, people with low vision and blindness, and people with learning difficulties). This would therefore be better stated as:

 “Enable people to access more jobs and opportunities using public transport, walking or cycling. All essential services can be accessed within a 15-minute walk or cycle. Walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure designed to be accessible by people of all ages and abilities.”

CLIMATE
The objective of ‘Net Zero by 2050’ is unambitious and insufficient. The combined authority must aim for Net Zero by a much earlier date. This objective should also be written more clearly. It will be a huge injustice for everyone in the region if we do not make the transition to Net Zero as soon as possible. For example:

“Reduce emissions from all transportation in the region to Net Zero by 2030.” 

ENVIRONMENT
The Environment aim and objective neglects the benefits that access to green spaces has on people’s mental and physical health. This could be written: 

“Protecting and improving our green spaces and improving access to nature, via walking and cycling routes through and to green spaces”.

HEALTH
Health should also refer to the improved independence and therefore wellbeing of children and older people as a result of not being isolated by lack of access to private cars. Improving our hierarchy of roads and streets and reducing the threat, noise and pollution of car traffic would benefit our local communities and connections between local people, thus reducing isolation and improving wellbeing. The connection between reduced car traffic and these benefits should be made clearer in the objectives. The objective could be:

“Improved health and wellbeing enabled through better connectivity, greater access to healthy journeys and lifestyles and delivering stronger, fairer, more resilient communities, with more interaction and less isolation due to overreliance on private car travel”

SAFETY
The Safety objective also lacks ambition and should be explicitly aiming for zero fatalities. This has been possible in places like Oslo where ‘Vision Zero’ has been achieved. This objective should also consider the social safety of people travelling/using transport in our region. For example, people walking, cycling, waiting for or using public transport alone or in the dark. There is also nothing in the objectives about making the system safer and more secure from criminal or illegal activity. For example, there is no mention of secure cycle parking at bus stops or train stations nor any mention of reducing cycle theft. There is no mention of improving the safety and accessibility of our pavements by stopping people from blocking pavements with private cars. This must be addressed in any local transport and connectivity plan that values compassion and community. A stronger statement would be:

 “Zero fatalities and serious injuries on our road and transport network. All users, regardless of age or gender, will feel safe when walking, cycling, and using the transport system. Pavements will be accessible and free from the danger of parked cars. Secure and plentiful cycle parking available for homes, commuting, public transport, shopping and visiting friends and family will ensure reliable cycling journeys.”

OTHER OBJECTIVES

There are other objectives that should be achieved by the new LTCP. 

Children have the most to gain from actively travelling to school. Their attainment, health, and behaviour improve. It is also critical to the development of a child to be given the ability to independently access after-school activities or visit their friends, when their parents consider them old enough to do so. This would imply that the full ‘child aim and objective’ would become:

“Improve educational outcomes, health, wellbeing and independence of children by enabling all children to travel to school by walking and cycling, and allow them to independently access after-school activities and visit friends and relatives.” 

 

Other comments about this consultation

While the ambitions of this consultation are good, there appear to be areas that have not been adequately considered.

CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE
The vision, objectives and areas of focus fail to make clear how important high-quality cycling infrastructure and a connected cycling network will be to the success of the local transport and connectivity plan. To ensure investment and support for the required improvements this must be strongly and clearly stated in the vision and objectives. A simple case study to consider is the increase in cycling during the pandemic when the roads were safer due to the significant reduction of car traffic. This shows the significant demand for cycling that exists when the danger from motorised traffic is removed: something that could also be done by providing segregated cycleways and safe junctions.

CONGESTION
There is a statement about tackling congestion on the front page of the consultation. However, this doesn’t appear to be addressed in the vision or objectives. Congestion is a consequence of space-inefficient modes of transport being provided free road space. The vision talks about encouraging sustainable modes of transport but falls short of proposals to reduce car traffic including: 

  • Demand management: congestion charging, residential parking schemes, reduction in car parking, increases in car parking charges and workplace parking levies
  • Reprioritisation of our roads to create a network hierarchy: this will include measures such as closing some roads to through motor traffic, and traffic calming

HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT
There is no recognition of the impact that the density and design of housing developments have on transportation demand or the carbon intensity of that transportation. There must be a stronger push to ensure new housing (and employment) developments are designed from the very beginning to reduce reliance on cars. For example, providing car parking in or very close to new homes encourages people to drive. Instead, new homes should always have sufficient cycle parking included. This means allowing for at least one cycle per occupant – not one per bedroom as presently required in some areas or even less in others. New homes without car parking spaces should have provision for cargo bike parking. Dense communities that are centred around high-frequency public transport, with good cycling and walking links, access to nature and good local facilities, are much better for the planet.

 

Areas of focus

The Combined Authority proposes a number of areas of focus to improve transport including Active Travel, Freight, Public Transport, Connectivity: Digital, Connectivity: Regional, Connectivity: Local, Air Quality, Transport Safety, Healthy Places, Network Management and Innovation.

 

  1. What regions would you like to give feedback on?

You will be asked to select which region you would like to give feedback on (Huntingdonshire, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Peterborough, Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire). Our suggestions can apply to any area in the Combined Authority. For each of the regions you select, you will need to rank what you think are the most important transport problems and opportunities. You can only rank up to six options. For cycling, the following have the most applicability. We suggest selecting these for ‘1’, ‘2’, and ‘3’.

  1. Quality and amount of the cycling and walking infrastructure
  2. Safety, including the risk of being in a collision or accident
  3. Difficult to access jobs, education, healthcare and shops

 

  1. As well as moving people around, transport is also important in supporting other positive changes.

For this question, you can rank 6 options, all of which are improved by cycling so you can choose what you think is best. The options that may be most encouraging for our decision-makers to give cycling more priority may be ‘environment’, ‘mental health’ and ‘physical health’.  

 

The rest of the questions are personal information.

You can access the Combined Authority Local Transport and Connectivity vision consultation at tinyurl.com/TransportPlan2021. The consultation closes on Sunday 28 November.