Elections – Cambridge Cycling Campaign

Elections

Local elections (City/SouthCambs), May 2011: Petersfield

Summary: Elections to Cambridge City Council (and South Cambs District Council) in May 2011.
Polling date: Thursday 5th May 2011
Ward:
Candidates
(by surname):
  • Kevin BLENCOWE  (Labour Party)
  • Shapour MEFTAH  (Conservative Party)
  • Shayne Mary MITCHELL  (Green Party)
  • Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL  (Liberal Democrat)

Questions for Petersfield ward candidates (9 questions)

Jump to question:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

# Question 1

Our new Cycling Vision 2016 report, available on our website and as featured in the local media recently, outlines a range of proposals for increasing the rate of cycling in the area. Do you give Cycling Vision 2016 your backing, and what are you most keen to see implemented?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

I do give Cycling Vision 2016 my backing. It gives a very comprehensive overview of how improvements should be made for cyclists in Cambridge and also what needs to be improved to encourage more cyclists.
Safety improvements, junction improvements, wider cycle lanes, residential speed reduction and better cycle parking having been identified for many years need stronger priority and moreover financial backing. This will be the political battle over the next 5 years.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

For the areas of Cambridge I am more familiar with, (Mostly the south and east of the city - I am less familiar with the outlying villages to the north) I can certainly back the report. The main points that jump out of the report as needing action are the Newmarket Road/Elizabeth Way Bridge Roundabout junction and the situation at the Railway Station. (Both of which are addressed in subsequent questions...)

# Question 2

Do you support our view that traffic policing (including fining of cyclists without lights or using pedestrian-only pavements) should become a greater police priority?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

The issue of cyclists without lights and of adult cyclists using pedestrian-only pavements particularly in busy areas is regularly raised on the doorsteps by residents. It gives cycling a bad name when we really want to promote it in a good light. Again to tackle this, those with responsibility to deal with these problems need to grasp the nettle and give it a real commitment rather than the tokenism of the rare one-week campaigns per year to make believe they're doing something about it.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

In the two examples you cite, these would be areas I could support police action on. However, I would be wary that without further direction and training a police crackdown on traffic to include cyclists could be unproductive, either through errors in application of the rules or focusing on the wrong points. (E.g. stopping a well-lit rider without a helmet but ignoring another cyclist who is wearing black, at night, with no high-vis - as I understand it, there have been cases where this has happened in the not-to-distant past)

# Question 3

We believe that 20mph should be the norm for local streets in residential areas (as distinct from main connecting roads). 20mph would: greatly encourage walking and cycling; improve the quality of life in an area for residents; and would not delay car journeys significantly (because only the start/end of a journey would be affected). Do you agree that 20mph should become the norm for local streets in Cambridge and surrounding villages?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

Local councillors are elected by local residents in specific areas of the city. In the first instance I would listen and speak up for Petersfield Residents. In regards for Petersfield I strongly advocated not only a 20 mph for Mill Road but for the same to be applied to all the streets connecting Mill Road to be the same. I'm pleased to see this has been accepted and will be implemented. As a principle I'm in favour of it in most parts of the city but I would respect the views of those elected to represent those parts.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

Yes, for non-through routes, so that car drivers are not encouraged to use unsuitable "rat runs" but instead keep to main routes away from cyclists and pedestrians. (Also see question 7) This ties in to the previous question on traffic policing as we do now have this in much of Petersfield, but setting the limit alone is not enough - the discussion now moves on to how best to encourage drivers to obey the new, lower limits without needing to flood the area with police.

# Question 4

Some cyclists have told us they feel unsafe riding along the two short stretches of Lensfield Road and East Road where car parking is allowed in spite of the heavy traffic. Such car parking narrows the space available considerably. Do you support removal of this car parking in the interests of improved traffic flow and the safety of cyclists?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

As regards East Road I have come to the view that yes car parking should be removed from this stretch. The peak-time no parking measures were never properly enforced. Cars pull in and out causing safety problems for cyclists and other drivers. There is a public car park at the rear. I would also prohibit parking at the top of Burleigh Street as part of this change for similar reasons. In principle the same should be applied to Lensfield Road though this doesn't form a boundary to the Petersfield area.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

On East Road, this is certainly something that needs study. Traffic flow in this area is likely to be substantially changed by the upcoming changes to the Newmarket Road/Elizabeth Way roundabout and changes to this area are something that should be considered as part of that project.

On Lensfield Road, in principle, yes. However, being outside of Petersfield Ward and East Area I have not spoken to residents there myself to assess the situation and I would need to do so before forming any firm opinions.

# Question 5

There have not been enough cycle stands at the station for at least a decade now. Given the level of cycle theft, congestion and growth in the city, what steps will you take to solve this and in what timescale?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

The only solution to the rail station problem is to ensure that the agreed modern purpose built cycle park is delivered. One of the few benefits to the approved outline plan for the rail station area was the cycle park building. The city council has wrongly allowed Brookgate the developers to rephase the scheme such that the cycle park has been put further down the timeline. The access road is in place, a huge building for Microsoft agreed yet the cycle park has not been mentioned.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

The LibDem Petersfield team have already been speaking to Network Rail about this and we are hoping that when the bus stops are moved that more cycle parking space and more cycle stands can be provided. As your newsletter highlights however, this is a frustrating problem as we are all at the mercy of the various companies involved in management of the station. There really is no fixed timescale for this as even when the current round of changes have gone through, there will no doubt still be a need to keep pressure on the station authorities to continuously strive to improve the situation at the station.

# Question 6

In most terraced streets of Petersfield and Romsey, the public realm is dominated by parked cars. No space is made available for cycle parking, trees, and other amenities that would enhance the area. Car parking is squeezed into every available remaining space, yet there is a total absence of secure cycle parking. This inequity is one cause of the high levels of cycle theft in Cambridge. Would you support the introduction of on-street cycle parking racks on most such streets, even if it would mean the removal of one parking space on the street?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

In Petersfield two small cycle bays were introduced in Gwydir Street and Mill Street. This was in consultation with local residents. I did in these cases and would in principle support on-street secure cycle-parking racks but it would require proper consultation with residents, many of whom use both their cars and cycles.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

Yes, and I feel this is something that should be presented as an option to residents via East Area Committee when the opportunity arises. I believe local residents would probably be supportive of such measures, not least because it increases available space on the pavements. Policing the cycle parking so that it does not end up becoming full of abandoned cycles (Or used for storing wheelie bins!) would be something that would need to be addressed however. I would be keen to study the results of such schemes in other areas where it has been implemented on a larger scale.

# Question 7

Two-way cycling in one-way streets produces increased cycling safety and convenience, because it enables people to avoid longer routes on busier roads. Do you agree that allowing two-way cycling in Kingston Street has been a success? Now that it appears that 'No Entry Except Cycles' signs will be permitted, will you work to allow two-way cycling in the remaining few one-way streets in Petersfield?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

Two way cycling in one way streets produces increased convenience certainly. Does it produce increased cycling safety in all cases? That is worthy of a long debate. I have to admit that the concerns of Kingston Street residents to allowing two-way cycling in the street have not materialised and there appears now a happy co-existence. This would lead me now to accept that the balance for allowing two-way cycling in the remaining few one-way streets in Petersfield swings in favour of the idea. But again consultation with local residents should be carried out. The 'No Entry Except Cycles' signs were something all right-minded local representatives argued for and is a great help to the situation.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

Yes. As I alluded to in my response to question 3, I would support any measure that separates out cars on main routes and provides a separate route for cyclists. As well as being safer, it is always much more pleasant to cycle when not surrounded by cars.

# Question 8

Planning permission was recently granted to a five-storey office block on Hills Road, even though the proposed cycle parking was much lower than the Cycle Parking Standards require. What do you think of this decision?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

The Cycle Parking standard on this site should have been adhered to. This location at the bottom end of the southern section of the Guided Busway with its adjacent cycle track indicates its cycle accessibility so the standard should have been stuck to.
I would also raise the question that putting aside the face of the busway itself. Why haven't the two cycle paths adjacent to the busway sections been opened up to the public to use, particularly the southern section up to Addenbrooke's.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

I am not familiar with the specifics of that planning application, as I believe it falls just outside the borders of both Petersfield and East Area. However, in general I believe it is important to provide good facilities and this should be reflected in planning decisions.

# Question 9

Do you have any other general cycling-related comments or points? And what support have you given for cycling and walking, or sustainable transport more generally, in the recent past?

Kevin BLENCOWE
(Labour Party)

I have given my support to new extended cycle routes in the recent past. When chair of the city council planning committee I ensured a suggestion from Michael Bond a Chesterton resident that a new cycle / pedestrian bridge over the Cam opposite the old Pye site was taken up and planned for as part of the development of that area. As a previous chair of the East Area committee I argued for improvements on Riverside were pushed forward.
The point of course at this present time is where funding for further incremental cycle way improvements is going to come from. Cycling England disbanded, grants removed or reduced. The city council has only pledged £200k towards cycle projects this year - a huge reduction. Existing cycle ways are unmaintained, the red surfacing totally gone along some of our main routes. Political support for cycling seems at its lowest point for many years - this needs to be changed.

Shapour MEFTAH
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Shayne Mary MITCHELL
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Zoe Imogen O'CONNELL
(Liberal Democrat)

As with most people that live or work in Cambridge, cycling is often the most convenient way of getting around the city and I believe cycling and use of public transport over other forms of transport is something that should be strongly promoted. As a city that is encouraging green development, we should encourage schemes that reduce the need to own cars and decrease the use of petrol-driven cars, such as car clubs and electric car charging points.

I am also a keen runner and usually run around the Petersfield area, so improving the street environment for pedestrians is also something I am very aware of, in particular the need to manage the limited amount of space we have on many of our narrow, terraced streets and around the Mill Road area to avoid bringing cars, cyclists and pedestrians into conflict with each other.

Camcycle is a non-partisan body. All candidates are given an equal opportunity to submit their views. Information published by Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign), The Bike Depot, 140 Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0DL.