Consultation response guide: Making Connections

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, so this is the first 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.

Name of consultation: Making Connections

From: The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP)
Time to complete:
Around 30 minutes (plus time to read the associated documents if you want more information than that given in the survey)
Format: Online survey (with options to call 01223 699906 or email your response to consultations@greatercambridge.org.uk)
Deadline: Midday, Wednesday 22 December

Cover of the GCP Making Connections consultation brochureMaking Connections is the next consultation on the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s City Access project, following on from the Choices for Better Journeys consultation in 2019. The GCP wants to hear people’s views on ways to reduce traffic to free up more space for sustainable transport and to fund a much improved bus service with more frequent, lower-cost bus journeys.

Guide to completing the survey

Questions 1-3 and 5 are questions about your personal travel choices.

Question 4 asks:
To what extent are you supportive or unsupportive of the aims for the Making Connections package?

GCP Making Connections consultation - list of aims

Camcycle recommends that you choose Strongly Support in response to this question. All these goals support our vision for a thriving and sustainable place of healthy, happy people. One point we would make on the first aim is that reducing the time car drivers and bus passengers spend in traffic should not have an impact on safety for people walking and cycling. Road speeds must be kept low and traffic signals adjusted to give active travel users plenty of time to cross.

Question 6 asks:
To what extent are you supportive or unsupportive of the proposals for an expanded future bus network to improve services across the Greater Cambridge area? 

GCP proposed bus map

Camcycle recommends that you choose Support in response to this question. We have chosen support rather than strongly support to reflect the lack of detail on how the bus plans will impact on active travel users and our neutral position on specific forms of public transport.

Question 7 asks:
If public transport, walking and cycling were improved, which of the following ideas should we prioritise to help fund and deliver this? Please rank the ideas where 1 is the idea we should consider first.

GCP charging options

It is not clear whether respondents should rank the options by speed and ease of implementation or on how best they achieve the ultimate aim. Following discussion with trustees and members of Camcycle’s traffic reduction subgroup, we suggest the following order (although you may have differing views on this).

1 – Introducing a combination of all the charging options
2 – Introducing a charge for driving within an area, potentially varied by time of day or day of week
3 – Increasing parking charges and introducing new parking charges, including a workplace parking levy
4 – Introducing a charge for driving within an area based on how polluting a vehicle is

Using a combination of all the measures would most quickly achieve transformative changes for active travel. Parking charges could be implemented most quickly, although we believe that the removal of parking spaces would also be needed to make a significant impact on the reduction of car journeys. Charging for driving within an area varied by time of day has the most possibility of raising money for public transport and active travel schemes. It also provides the flexibility to adjust the prices to respond to changing traffic levels, and to raise those prices during anti-social hours to reflect the harm that traffic noise has on people sleeping.

Questions 8 and 9 require individual answers on bus use.

Question 10 reads:
If traffic levels were lower, there would be more opportunities to provide leisure space for people in areas that are currently traffic dominated (for example at Mitcham’s Corner, in the Hills Road/Regent Street area, on East Road).

Camcycle recommends that you choose Strongly Support in response to this question.

Question 11 reads:
If traffic levels were lower, there would be more opportunities to create better routes for people walking and cycling. 

Camcycle recommends that you choose Strongly Support in response to this question. Reduced levels of congestion reduces potential issues of traffic displacement – this makes it easier to install modal filters in residential streets to create quieter routes that are safer for people walking and cycling.

Question 12 asks:
12) If a charge was introduced, what hours should it operate?

Your preference may be different, but we recommend selecting All the time (i.e. 24 hours per day)

These are the other options, in order of our preference.

  • All day (i.e. 7am-7pm)
  • All the time, but with a lower charge at off-peak times and a higher charge at peak times
  • Peak time only (i.e. 7-10am and 4-7pm)

It is important to note that there is not really a ‘peak time’ any more in Cambridge; most of the day is peak time. We would prefer to see a higher charge from 7am to 7pm and a lower one from 7pm to 7am, but this isn’t one of the stated options. A fully-flexible charge (adjusted to adapt to daily traffic conditions) would be even better.

Question 13 asks:
If a charge was introduced, would you prefer a higher charge covering a smaller area of the city, or a lower charge covering a larger part of the city?

Camcycle recommends that you choose Lower charge covering a larger part of the city.
We think this would result in fewer conflict and traffic displacement issues.

Questions 14 and 15 require individual answers on the accessibility impact of the proposals. These are followed by detailed questions on the bus proposals for each area.

Next, there is a question on people or groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act.
We have a duty to ensure that our work promotes equality and does not discriminate or disproportionately affect or impact people or groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, such as younger or older people, or those with disabilities. Please comment if you feel any of the proposals would either positively or negatively affect or impact on any such person/s or group/s. 

A suggested response could be:
The reduction in car traffic would provide more space for walking and cycling. This would improve the ability for people who use mobility scooters, wheelchairs, or other aids to move around. It would enable more children to move around independently using better pavements and cycleways. It would also allow significant improvements in the public realm, for example, providing space for benches to allow people with mobility issues to sit down and rest periodically along their journey. With less congestion, disabled people who use cars would have quicker, more reliable journeys. We would support necessary exemptions from charging for protected groups such as Blue Badge holders.

The following question is an open comment box for anything else you’d like to add.
Do you have any other comments about our proposals for improving public transport, walking and cycling or the potential road or parking charges? 

Points you could make include:

  • The vision does not explain where all the additional buses will terminate or loop around in central Cambridge. A radical reallocation of road space on the inner ring road will be required, providing space for cycles, pedestrians, and buses at the expense of car parking and traffic lanes.
  • Increasing the number of buses and expecting people cycling to share a bus lane only slows down buses and creates unnecessary danger for people riding. Buses, cycles, and pedestrians must be segregated. Will the money raised from these charges be used to providing segregated cycleways on all main roads and at all major junctions?
  • A high-quality, connected cycle network is an essential part of this scheme. Some people will prefer to use a cycle instead of paying for a bus that may not go the most direct route for them. How much of the money raised by these charges will go to active travel?
  • Some people may wish to combine cycling and public transport for their journeys. How will the proposed bus network integrate with the cycling network? There is a need for a series of high-quality travel hubs.
  • The introduction of a workplace parking levy does nothing to reduce the parking demand from free parking on residential streets. On-street residential parking schemes need to be introduced across the city.
  • The introduction of a workplace parking levy does nothing to reduce the parking demand for free or subsidized car parking for shopping. Will supermarkets and large retailers have to pay for providing huge car parks like other businesses?
  • Will the money from the charge actually be used to fund active travel or will it all be used to subsidise the new bus services? Could money raised from this scheme be used to fund:
    • Physical measures such as modal filters or bus gates to create low-traffic neighbourhoods and new safe routes for people walking and cycling?
    • Enforcement of traffic laws e.g. to prevent cycle lanes being blocked by stopped motor vehicles?
    • Improvements to traffic signals such as automatic detection of cycles?
    • Safe junctions with increased capacity for people walking and cycling?
    • Improvements to existing cycle routes, such as dual cattle grids and inclusive bridges which are safe and accessible for all types of rider and cycle?
    • The removal of on-street car parking and installation of more on-street cycle parking, including secure cycle stores for residential areas?
    • An overall increase in the number of cycle parking spaces in the city centre and other public locations?

The final section is Personal Information. The GCP says these questions are not mandatory but answering them will help understanding of how the plans may affect different groups/people.

Have your say today at tinyurl.com/GreenerTravel2021.
The consultation closes at midday on Wednesday 22 December.