Residents and campaigners celebrated as the county council’s Highways & Transport Committee unanimously agreed to make eight experimental transport schemes permanent. The measures, installed as part of the government’s Active Travel Fund which was launched during the Covid-19 pandemic, were intended to help more people to walk and cycle safely for their everyday journeys.
Cllr Alex Beckett said the schemes, six of which were in Cambridge city, were well-received and had had a “transformational effect”. Kirsty Howarth, speaking on behalf of 50 residents of Luard Road who wanted to keep the modal filter on that street, said that a recent traffic survey carried out by residents showed that the daily number of cycle trips had increased by 74%. Between 8am and 6pm, they recorded 1,218 people cycling on Luard Road and 2,198 people walking.
Camcycle’s analysis of the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) data also demonstrated the success of the city schemes. Over 80% of those travelling in Carlyle Road, Silver Street and Luard Road are now doing so on foot or by cycle, and daily levels of cycling in Carlyle Road are approaching those on popular routes such as the Riverside bridge. According to the government’s cycle infrastructure standards, LTN 1/20, the level of motor traffic on Bateman Street now makes it an appropriate route for all types of cyclist, whereas the 4000+ vehicle movements before (2018) created a barrier to many potential riders.
The two schemes outside the city were also supported by their local councillors. Cllr Ros Hathorn, quoted in the county’s report, said she had heard many positive comments about the experimental one-way system on Bell Hill in Histon. It had “given children and young people more independence” and opened up a safe route to a new local community nature reserve. Cllr Piers Coutts, representing Ely South, said that he supported the proposal to prohibit parking on Station Road, Ely and that the benefits to safe cycling outweighed the objections received.
In general, the committee welcomed the evidence presented on each of the active travel schemes and the chance to reduce the number of dangerous rat-runs across the county, which often have become worse due to the growth of sat-nav systems in the last few years. Cllr Beckett said: “Covid showed us all that lower traffic really does help our communities. It allows people to get to green spaces, it allows people to communicate with their neighbours and we shouldn’t lose those lessons that were learnt.” Cllr Mark Howell, backing up a point made by national government, said that low-traffic schemes would always face some opposition, but the county had to be bold. He said: “On the evidence [these schemes] have proven to be very successful, but we must be prepared to take these risks at the beginning and go for them. We are going to get criticism, but we must accept that. My primary issue here is the safety of the public.”
Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign for Spaces to Breathe in these areas, submitting suggestions for measures, responding to the consultations, contacting councillors, delivering leaflets, counting traffic and sharing support in the press and social media. Camcycle will continue to campaign for more safe routes for walking and cycling and press the council and GCP for a speedy delivery of the second phase of Active Travel Fund measures. The results of the recent consultation on proposals including Arbury Road and Coldham’s Lane are expected to be published next month.