Cycling ban

Cambridge Cycling Campaign welcomes the recent decision to suspend the historic city centre cycling restriction for a trial period, starting later this year.

This page charts recent developments on this issue.

Motion passed by the Cambridge Environment & Transport Area Joint Committee, 17th January 2005

The Area Joint Committee is recommended to:

  1. support, subject to consultation, an experiment to suspend the cycling restriction in the historic centre pedestrian zone for up to 18 months;
  2. delegate the determination of the consultation feedback to the Director of Environment and Transport (or his successor) in consultation with the Chair and Vice-chair of the Area Joint Committee;
  3. support the provision of signing indicating that pedestrians have precedence over cyclists during the 10am-4pm restricted hours;
  4. retain the closure of the gates at the Hobson Street junction to control the entry speed of cyclists;
  5. support further independent on-street research after 12 months to gauge public opinion on the experimental suspension to be jointly funded by the City and County Councils; and
  6. refer the finding of the research to this Area Joint Committee for a final decision on whether the experiment is made permanent.

The amendment (as passed as the motion above) to the AJC agenda item was made by Councillor John Reynolds (C) and seconded by Councillor Sian Reid (LD). The motion was passed by 8 votes (7 Lib Dems; 1 Conservative) to 3 (3 Labour).

PRESS RELEASE: 18th January 2005

Historic decision for the historic core

Cambridge Cycling Campaign welcomes the clear decision made yesterday by the Council Committee responsible for transport matters to suspend the historic city centre cycling restriction for a trial period, starting later this year.

Currently there is no adequate south to north cycling route through the city centre.

Campaigner Martin Lucas-Smith said “The current daytime cycling ban forms a real barrier for many journeys by bike. We have lobbied hard to have this ban overturned. We believe that pedestrians and cyclists can co-exist in the city centre and that a Pedestrian Priority Zone would be workable. Indeed, cycling is currently allowed on Sundays and causes few problems.”

Current government guidance states that “there are no real factors to justify excluding cyclists from pedestrianised areas” [see note 5, below].

Campaigner Jim Chisholm said “The Campaign strongly supports enforcement measures against irresponsible cycling. We believe that current enforcement levels are insufficient.”

We believe the proposed arrangements would simplify the current bewildering array of restrictions.


Notes for editors:

  1. Cambridge Cycling Campaign was formed in 1995 and now has around 700 members. Run by volunteers, it campaigns for “better safer and more cycling in and around Cambridge”. Its website, at , contains a wide range of information on its activities.
  2. Two years ago, Cambridge Cycling Campaign released its Position Paper on Responsible, Legal Cycling. The policy makes clear the Campaign’s advocacy of responsible, legal cycling. The paper is available on our website at .
  3. The daytime city centre cycling ban was introduced in 1993, and went beyond the recommendations of a public enquiry held at the time.
  4. This decision replaces an earlier decision by the Cambridge Environment & Transport Area Joint Committee to allow two-way cycling in Trinity Street, which County Council officers considered to be impracticable.
  5. See the Department for Transport’s website at:

Our letter giving practical suggestions to the County Council

At the start of February we wrote to the County Council giving some practical suggestions.

We then received a reply from Richard Preston at the County Council:

Thank you for your very constructive letter. Your suggestion of a working group is a good way of taking this forward.

The Working Group, which will include Pedestrian Representation following a request from us for this, will meet at the end of March.

City Council debates the proposed experimental suspension

Councillors Blencowe and Durrant then tabled a motion to the meeting of the full Cambridge City Council on 24th January, which read:

This Council regrets the recent decision of the Cambridge Environment and Transport Area Joint Committee to support the removal of the cycling restriction in the historic city centre pedestrian zone.

The Council notes that the cycling restriction has been in place since 1993 and in the most recent official feed back survey in 2002 was supported by almost 75% of those who responded.

The Council further regrets that the Area Joint Committee should make such a decision without any prior consultation and discussion not only within the City Council itself, but with groups that are normally consulted on such city centre transport related matters.

It asks the Executive Councillor for Planning & Transport to ensure that all recognised groups who will be affected by this decision are now asked for their views and should it prove that there is support for the cycling restriction to be retained, that the Area Joint Committee be asked to reconsider its decision.

We immediately wrote to all City Councillors asking that this not be passed, giving our reasoning and a summary of developments.

We received several favourable responses from Councillors, some of whom remarked that our letter gave them amunition against the motion being put.

The Council substantially amended the motion during the debate. This amended version was passed, as follows:

This Council welcomes the decision of the AJC to lift the city centre cycling ban on an experimental basis, subject to consultation and evaluation using independent market research.

The Council notes that this will provide a valuable northbound cycle route through the city centre and that it will reduce the confusion surrounding the present restrictions, with the attendant compliance problems.

The Council notes that the AJC’s decision reflects recently reinforced Department for Transport advice that pedestrians and cyclists can co-exist in pedestrianised areas, and that experience in Cambridge supports this advice; the accident record where coexistence takes place in the historic city centre is good.

The Council recognises that public acceptance of this approach is important to the success of the experiment. Encouragement of responsible cycling will be important, as will its enforcement by the police. The Council welcomes both Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s paper on Responsible, Legal Cycling and the establishment of a working party to consider a detailed approach to implementation of the trial.

We note that much of the wording within this motion is taken from our own letter, surely a recognition of the quality of our arguments here.

This now means that the City Council as well as its transport committee joint with Cambridgeshire County Council, both explicitly support the experimental suspension of the ban.

Consultation by the County Council

The County Council have now started the formal consultation on the proposed changes.

Please write to the County Council, with your views on the proposed experimental suspension of the ban, by Friday, 22nd April 2005.

Article in Newsletter 59

Newsletter 59 contains an article summarising these developments.

Article in Newsletter 61

Newsletter 61 contains an article summarising more recent developments.

Coverage of the ban in The Times nationally

The Times published a short article regarding the ban on 17th August 2005.

Experimental Traffic Order

The County Council issued an Experimental Traffic Order on the experimental suspension, which forms the legal basis for this change.

Promotional leaflets issued by the County Council

The County Council has distributed tens of thousands of leaflets regarding the changes:

Cycling ban now suspended

As of 12th September 2005, the daytime cycling ban in the main historic centre has been suspended for an experimental 12-18 month period. We call on all cyclists to ride responsibly in this area and to respect the needs of walkers. The above leaflets have been published by the Councils and are being distributed in town and in the local papers.

Leaflet page 1 Leaflet page 2