Cycling ban

Call for lifting of the daytime cycling ban
in Cambridge historic City Centre

The present position

Since 1992 cycling has been prohibited in some City Centre streets – most significantly in St Mary’s/Market Street and in Sidney Street – between 10am and 4pm from Monday to Saturday. At a Public Inquiry held in 1993, the City Council supported the lifting of the ban in Sidney Street but its retention in St Mary’s/Market Street. The Inspector’s recommendations agreed with this, but the County Council, which was and is the decision-making body, over-rode both the City Council and the Public Inquiry recommendations and confirmed the ban in both streets.

On Monday 29th October 2001 the Cambridge Environment and Transport Area Joint Committee will consider a report on the City Centre. This will provide the best opportunity for many years for the Cycling Campaign to lobby for the removal of the daytime cycling ban.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign policy

Since the Campaign was founded, it has consistently opposed this and other cycling bans. At its last Annual General Meeting the following resolution was passed unanimously:

  • Cambridge Cycling Campaign reaffirms its opposition to the restrictions on cycling in Cambridge city.
  • The Campaign will resist attempts to extend bans and restrictions, especially in view of the lack of alternatives to St Andrew’s Street and Trinity Street for northbound and southbound cyclists.
  • The Campaign will take any opportunities to have existing bans reduced, especially during the week, when pedestrian flows are light.

Some reasons why the daytime cycling ban in St Mary’s/Market Street and Sidney Street should now be lifted

  • Since 1992 attitudes to cycling have been changing. All the major political parties are now increasingly promoting cycling as a healthy and sustainable form of transport. We believe that it is important that these changes should lead to careful reconsideration of policies which are no longer compatible with current thinking.
  • Since 1992 much evidence has accumulated that cycling in pedestrian areas is much less dangerous for pedestrians than it might appear. Injuries to pedestrians caused by cyclists are everywhere very rare indeed. Many pedestrians do, however, fear injury and it is important to stress that there are good pavements along both the streets in question on which cycling would, of course, continue to be prohibited and where the elderly, the disabled and parents with young children would not be intimidated by cyclists.
  • Cyclists are seriously inconvenienced by the ban, especially the many thousands of people resident in the City Centre. The prohibition on Sidney Street is particularly onerous because the alternative northbound route via Hobson Street, Malcolm Street and Jesus Lane is lengthy and is perceived as intimidating, especially for child cyclists, the elderly and other less confident cyclists.
  • Since 1992 it has been consistently shown that a reasonable accommodation can be reached between cyclists and pedestrians in those City Centre streets with high pedestrian flows – notably Trinity Street and King’s Parade – in which cycling has always been permitted. There is no reason to suppose that difficulties would be significantly greater in St Mary’s/Market Street and Sidney Street.
  • We recognise that a small minority of Cambridge cyclists are disorderly and aggressive, just as a small minority of pedestrians and motorists are. They should, of course, be brought under control by the normal processes of the law. We strongly reject any suggestion that the cycling ban is justifiable because of the behaviour of this minority. The responsible majority of Cambridge cyclists should not be stereotyped or penalised.
  • Cambridge is the premier cycle city in the United Kingdom. Cycle usage here is higher than anywhere else and the City is an important example for the rest of the UK. Cambridge should, we believe, be celebrating its success as a cycling city and promoting cycling as part of its special culture and environment. The City Centre cycling ban is, we believe, incompatible with this.

Our petition

We ask that all who agree with the Campaign’s policy on this issue should sign the petition (PDF version) or the equivalent text version and encourage as many as possible of their colleagues, neighbours, friends and relatives to do the same. It should be returned to us urgently. If we are to present the petitions to the meeting on October 29th, we must receive them at the very latest on Thursday October 18th and preferably much earlier. Petitions may be sent by email – copy and paste the text below.

We are very well aware that not all our members will feel able to support us on this issue. If you are unhappy about our policy, please do not hesitate to write to us or to email to us to register or to explain your views. We are concerned to understand the views of all our members and not only of those who are able to come to meetings.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I/We, the undersigned, call for the abolition of the daytime cycling ban in Cambridge City Centre (especially in St Mary's/Market Street and Sidney Street).


My address:
Cambridge voter: YES/NO