Consultation response guide: A new road classification for Cambridge

Name of consultation: A new Road Classification for Cambridge
Deadline: midday on Monday 18 July

The Greater Cambridge Partnership’s City Access project aims to make walking, cycling and public transport more attractive to people living in the Greater Cambridge area. This will help support local goals including reducing congestion, pollution and carbon emissions, improving health and wellbeing and creating nicer places.

As part of the City Access project, the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is consulting on a new road classification for Cambridge, reconsidering how different streets throughout the city are used. A key principle of this project is that private cars, vans and lorries would be required to use routes which maximise the use of main roads, freeing up space in local streets for reliable bus journeys, safe active travel routes and more pleasant places for people to spend time. The new street network would be enabled by the use of ‘modal filters’ which are designed to restrict some through journeys (often those made by private motor vehicles) while opening up quieter routes for other journeys (such as people walking, cycling or using the bus).

Do modal filters work?
Bridge Street Bus GateYes, they do! Six experimental modal filters in Cambridge including Luard Road and Carlyle Road have been approved to be made permanent: the evidence showed that the number of people walking and cycling on these routes had increased and local people were in favour of their retention.

There are also already many existing long-term modal filters across Cambridge and beyond: there is a short list of examples in this blogpost, including the city centre bus gates and filters in locations such as Hooper Street, Riverside and Highworth Avenue. CycleStreets have mapped every filter in Cambridge: find out more in this presentation from November 2021.

Completing the online survey (approx 15-30 minutes)

Note that you do not need to register to complete the online survey and all questions and comment boxes are optional. If you are very short of time (with fewer than 5 minutes to spare) the key question to answer is Question 3, to which we suggest you answer STRONGLY AGREE. Camcycle will be submitting a longer response by email to the GCP which we will make public once finalised for those who would like to understand our position in more detail. You can then use this to inform your own email responses, which should be sent to consultations@greatercambridge.org.uk.

Survey guide

Questions 1-2 are questions about you.

Question 3 asks:
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the idea of motor vehicles being required to use main roads as much as possible to reduce through trips on local roads and streets by the use of point closures (modal filters)?

Camcycle recommends that you answer STRONGLY AGREE.

Question 4 asks:
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the initial ideas for the level of access for each of the types of road user and class of vehicle?
(See chart below and more detail on p8-9 of the consultation brochure.)

Camcycle recommends that you choose AGREE for all answers to this question.

GCP Road Classification table of user access

Question 5 asks for reasons for your answers to the question above. You may wish to use some of the following text in your answer:

I agree with the suggested levels of access as they align with the hierarchy of road users as laid out in the 2022 Highway Code and the GCP’s goals on active and sustainable transport. People walking and cycling should always be given priority access over motor vehicles within urban areas. 

Road safety should not be a reason to exclude people cycling; suitable provision should be provided to maintain full access (as currently) to every carriageway in the city. In pedestrian-priority areas, cycle routes should be designed to enhance the pedestrian experience while maintaining maximum access for cycles. Safe, inclusive cycle routes should also include separation from buses.

GCP Road Classification - road categoriesQuestion 6 asks:
How far do you agree or disagree that these road categories are the right ones?
(See chart and more detail on p10-12 of the consultation brochure.)

Because we think that this categorisation is unnecessarily complex, Camcycle recommends that you answer in the following way:

  • Primary Distributor Roads – AGREE
  • Secondary Distributor Roads – STRONGLY DISAGREE
  • Area Access Streets – AGREE
  • Local Access Streets – STRONGLY DISAGREE
  • Civic Streets – DISAGREE
  • Neighbourhood Streets – AGREE

Question 7 asks for reasons for your answers to the question above. You may wish to use some of the following text in your answer:

Streets must be designed to balance the needs of diverse users in order to shape an attractive environment that ensures access, safety, comfort and enjoyment. This requires a street to follow the user hierarchy (design first for pedestrians, then cyclists, then public transport, then specialist service vehicles and finally motor traffic). This proposed categorisation of streets is primarily car-focused and fails to detail the needs for each user.

For a user-based hierarchy, walking, cycling, bus and specialist service vehicle route maps should be included. The motor vehicle categories should be simplified to primary distributor, access street and neighbourhood streets (combining secondary distributor with primary distributor and combining local and area access streets). Civic streets should be removed and replaced with a detailed core zone plan for the city centre which considers the unique needs of each street in this historic area.

Question 8 asks:
Looking at Plan 2 on page 13 of the consultation brochure, are there any changes or additions you would suggest to the way the categories are applied to the roads on the map?

We recommend that you share your own views on the streets you know well. Some suggested points you could add include:

– the fact that Queen Edith’s Way is treated differently from Cherry Hinton Road 

– there are too many primary distributor roads around the Chesterton Road area which include busy active travel crossings (e.g. the bottom of Castle Hill, Carlyle Road zebra crossing), shopping and leisure areas (e.g. south end of Milton Road, Mitcham’s Corner), historic streets (Chesterton Lane, Northampton Street, Mount Pleasant) and residential areas (e.g. Victoria Road). 

– Queen’s Road is an important route for walking and cycling and a historic public and green space which would be much improved if it was not a primary distributor route. 

– there is no clear explanation boundaries for the expanded city centre zone. The low-traffic area north-west of East Road will need to be different to that on the south-east side.

Question 9 asks:
To what extent do you agree or disagree with implementing the road classification changes at the same time as the Making Connections proposals, which are subject to GCP Executive Board decision?

Camcycle recommends that you answer STRONGLY AGREE.

Question 10 asks your view on considering options available for alternative bus interchanges as well as some form of zero-emission shuttle bus service in the city centre.

Camcycle recommends that you answer AGREE.

Question 11 asks your view on giving priority to walking and cycling in more streets in the city centre.

Camcycle recommends that you answer STRONGLY AGREE.

Question 12 asks your view on creating alternative routes for cyclists to avoid the busiest pedestrian areas where contact between both groups can sometimes cause delay and friction.

Camcycle recommends that you answer NEITHER AGREE NOR DISAGREE because of the lack of detail at this point.

Question 13 asks your view on providing alternative ways to get around the city centre for disabled people.

Camcycle recommends that you answer STRONGLY AGREE.

Question 14 asks your view on treating taxi journeys as other car journeys under a new classification (see more information on page 16 of the consultation brochure).

Camcycle recommends that you answer DISAGREE for hackney carriages and AGREE for private hire cars.

Cycle courier (© Zedify)

Question 15 asks your view on allowing easier and more frequent access for low-emission vehicles or e-cargo bikes to encourage businesses to combine their deliveries.

Camcycle recommends that you answer AGREE.

Question 16 is an opportunity to give reasons to the answers for question 9-15. You may wish to use some of the following text in your answer:

  • Question 9 – The road hierarchy presents the opportunity to improve the experience of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users, but may make vehicular journeys more difficult. Therefore it is vital that an enhanced bus network is introduced at the same time to give greater choice on how people can make a journey.
  • Question 10 – Further detail is required on any new interchange and bus network. Bus routes should avoid terminating in the city centre where possible to minimise conflict with people walking and cycling.
  • Question 11 – Expanding priority for people walking and cycling in the city centre will create a more pleasant place to live, work and visit as well as improving the safety and accessibility of active travel routes in this area.
  • Question 12 – Alternative routes near the city centre would be welcome, but options are limited. For example, cycle improvements are needed along Queen’s Road, however this should be seen as an example to redistribute some cycle journeys from busier city centre routes, rather than an opportunity to restrict cycling on those essential links.
  • Question 13 – Greater accessibility for disabled people is strongly supported. Question 13 does however mention pedestrian priority expansion and not pedestrian and cycle priority. Cycling is accessible to many disabled people, many of whom find it easier to cycle than walk. For example, 26% of disabled people who commute to work in Cambridge do so by cycle.
  • Question 14 – I support additional exceptions for hackney carriages as they are regulated to ensure a high quality of service, accessibility and safety. There is also regulation of the number of hackney carriages operating in Cambridge; the rapid growth of private hire cars is a concern for active travel user safety in Cambridge and therefore these should be treated as other motor vehicles.
  • Question 15 – Low emission vehicles would not help to reduce congestion. Low-emission vans are space inefficient and often block pavements, cycle lanes and occasionally roads. A size limit should be imposed if these are to be allowed for city centre deliveries. Large deliveries should be restricted to the early hours of the morning.

Question 17 asks:
How important or unimportant do you consider exemptions for the following categories (see chart)?

GCP Road Classification - exemptionsCamcycle recommends that you answer the top three categories based on your views and experience. We encourage you to choose IMPORTANT for public service vehicles and UNIMPORTANT for delivery vehicles.

Question 18 asks for reasons for your answers to the question above. You may wish to use some of the following text in your answer:

Refuse vehicles may need greater access to the network to facilitate collections. The large vehicles are hard to turn and therefore may benefit from passing through a filter point which may be closed to other vehicles.

Delivery vehicles making multiple drops have a growing impact on congestion, pollution and safety in Cambridge. Limiting access to these vehicles will help incentivise the use of zero emission freight consolidation schemes.

Question 19 asks:
Are there other users who should be considered for exemption?

Camcycle encourages you to submit your own views to this question.

Question 20 asks:
To what extent do you think a new classification would improve or worsen safety, and help reduce road casualties?

Camcycle recommends that you answer IMPROVE.

Question 21 asks for reasons for your answers to the question above. You may wish to use some of the following text in your answer:

The road hierarchy should, if correctly applied, lead to a greater level of neighbourhood streets with low vehicle speeds and reduced levels of motor traffic, leading to improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists. It will also put greater emphasis on the need for segregated cycle infrastructure on primary distributor routes.

Evidence from similar schemes such as those in Waltham Forest and Ghent has demonstrated a reduction in road injuries.

Question 22 asks if you feel any of the proposals would either positively or negatively affect or impact people or groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, such as younger or older people, or disabled people. You may wish to use some of the following text in your answer:

The road hierarchy, if correctly applied, will provide a greater level of equality. Everyone should be able to easily access walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure and those who need to drive will be given access to the majority of the network. Where motor vehicles are restricted, high quality accessible alternatives must be provided.