Elections

2015 City Council election: Castle

Summary: 2015 elections to Cambridge City Council
Polling date: Thursday 7th May 2015
Ward:
Candidates
(by surname):
  • Martin Julian BONNER  (Green Party)
  • Valerie Margaret HOLT  (Liberal Democrat)
  • Simon Anthony MITTON  (Conservative Party)
  • Patrick SHEIL  (Labour Party)

Questions for Castle ward candidates (7 questions)

Jump to question:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7 

# Question 1

Cambridge Cycling Campaign has created a guide to cycling best-practice called Making Space For Cycling, endorsed by all national cycling organisations. Do you fully support this guide, and if so, what one principle in it do you think could most effectively be applied in your ward?

Martin Julian BONNER
(Green Party)

I certainly support the overall thrust of this guide. I haven't had time to go through it line by line and research whether I agree with every single item, but my default assumption is going to be that it is right unless I am provided with evidence to the contrary.

Castle has a fairly wide range of road environments, and it almost all applies; if I had to pick one item, it is the need to separate cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

Valerie Margaret HOLT
(Liberal Democrat)

I support your view with the caveat that much of it, whilst desirable, is not easy to implement in this ward. Having attended the meeting on the new cycle way coming into Storeys Way, it became clear to me that the most important thing is to separate cyclists, pedestrians and motorists where possible in the interests of safety for ALL. In the new developments that will be much easier to introduce from the beginning.

Simon Anthony MITTON
(Conservative Party)

Yes I do, and Principle 7 on unobstructed routes would be good to have in Castle. And the same Principle should apply to benefit pedestrians because pavement parking by commuters who work at Shire Hall and central Cambridge has become a serious problem for both cyclists in the road and pedestrians (That's because pavement parking in narrow streets leads to a narrow route too small for cycle + moving car). I spend many weeks in year in France (Toulouse and Nice), where pavement bollards are much used to good effect

Patrick SHEIL
(Labour Party)

I fully support *Making Space for Cycling* and will ardently promote its use, especially in the context of the new developments in Castle. Many of its principles could be meaningfully applied in Castle. However, low speed for motor vehicles either through design (as mentioned on p. 12) or by legal restriction has to be the key for Castle, containing as it does one big road (Huntingdon Road) on and off of which many cyclists have to turn. Cars coming from the A14 should go slower; cars going to the A14 should begin speeding up at a later point and specifically after the turning in towards Girton College. I would also say that at a time when there is to be extensive development in Castle, it is vital that cyclists are not forced off designated areas and into the road as a consequence of badly formulated temporary arrangements.

# Question 2

What measures would you like to see to improve the safety of children getting to school?

Martin Julian BONNER
(Green Party)

Separating cars, bikes, and pedestrians would certainly help. Training to enable older children to cycle on their own would also be useful.

Valerie Margaret HOLT
(Liberal Democrat)

On Huntingdon and Histon Road the volume of traffic at rush hours makes it almost impossible for children to use the roads safely. If all the local schools were allocated Cycle days (one day a week for all) which were well publicized then more people would leave their cars behind on that day. Hopefully this might develop into a regular feature and build up confidence and a changed pattern of behaviour. Too many parents just do not try as it seems too difficult but one day a week might just work?

Simon Anthony MITTON
(Conservative Party)

I don't have direct experience of this. Naturally I would listen with interest to those who have knowledge of the problems

Patrick SHEIL
(Labour Party)

There should be traffic calming (possibly two sleeping policemen would work) in the lower part of French's Lane. Children cycling to and from St Luke's School will be safer as a consequence. Cars have been frequently spotted going too fast down that road. There may also be a case for similar measures near Mayfield School on the McManus estate; the views of parents, residents and teachers should be canvassed. More generally, there should be a policy of imposing strict liability in cases of motor vehicles striking cyclists.

# Question 3

What experience do you and your family have of cycling? Do you have any different concerns about younger or older family members cycling than you do yourself?

Martin Julian BONNER
(Green Party)

I cycle from Richmond Road to near the railway station every day. My partner cycles from time to time. I don't have any younger or older members of my immediate family.

Valerie Margaret HOLT
(Liberal Democrat)

I cycled to school every day from the age of about 10 but that is not possible here because of the traffic density.I allowed my daughter to cycle but only out of town, not into it. I cycled until I fell coming back from town just as I hit the traffic going over Magdalene Bridge and last year I broke my knee. The doctor told me that the commonest cause of "broken knees of ladies of a certain age" was falling off their bikes not ladders, as I had done! My husband rides a motorbike and I am teaching my grand-daughter to ride on the lane beside our house but I will not let her ride on the roads.

The one thing that must improve is the Posters/ signs / rules that ensure that cyclists do not use the pavements. I have been forced to step sideways more times than I care to remember and the older I get the harder it is to escape from someone cycling into your path. I can't be the only person who has experienced this problem.

Simon Anthony MITTON
(Conservative Party)

I have been cycling on a regular basis (more that 250 distinct trips per year) around Castle and central Cambridge since arriving here as a student at Churchill College in 1968. I have been involved in one accident when a motorist hit me broadside at night at the Fen Causeway / Lensfield Road junction.

Patrick SHEIL
(Labour Party)

As an undergraduate and postgraduate student at Cambridge University I cycled all the time and have done so ever since (despite now being an occasional car user). Both my parents (who are now retired) would cycle to work throughout their careers and still take regular cycle rides (certainly weekly if not daily) as a way of keeping healthy. However, they are senior citizens and I am concerned for their safety in a world that has yet fully to understand and value the immense societal and health benefits of cycling (more cycling means reductions in obesity, in the threat of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and thus it means reductions to the nation's healthcare bill, quite apart from the quality-of-life improvements for individuals). My Father has frequently written to the local press advocating the rights of cyclists.

# Question 4

What would you do to improve cycle parking in the city centre?

Martin Julian BONNER
(Green Party)

Ensure developers provide more of it (I think the failure to insist on adequate cycle parking at the development on Hills Road/Cherry Hinton Road a few years ago was shameful). Provide more parking on the streets as funds are available.

Valerie Margaret HOLT
(Liberal Democrat)

I am most impressed with the bike parking at the station but the only practical way to improve city centre parking is to take over part of the car parking space and insert the same kit as at the station. There are too many bikes strapped to lamp-posts and too many are stolen.

Simon Anthony MITTON
(Conservative Party)

This is badly needed, obviously. However it requires public money and there may be less of that. I suspect the long term solution may be to ban motorised traffic altogether and open up everything for pedestrians and cyclists in the space created. I would ask College Bursars to be more pro-active in providing Visitor Parking for cycles within their College.

Patrick SHEIL
(Labour Party)

I would campaign for more rack space in key locations. In some places there may be a case for two-level style racks like the ones outside Heffers and to the left of the Guildhall. However, I do also accept that high-capacity stands are only appropriate on occasion, and that the classic Sheffield stand offers the greatest ease of access (especially at times of the day or week when the stands are nearing capacity). There should be a presumption that retailers and banks (e.g. the NatWest at the top of St Andrew's Street and Sainsbury's) will not reduce cycle parking.

# Question 5

Recent construction in the city, such as on Abbey Street, Milton Road and at the University Arms have closed routes or removed cycle space. What would you do to ensure that cycle routes remain open and safe as construction grows the city?

Martin Julian BONNER
(Green Party)

Maintaining viable cycle routes is important, and should almost always be a condition of any planning consent provided that is possible.

Having said that, there is no benefit in refusing consent and having it granted at appeal. It is better to negotiate with the developers and agree to the best we can get.

Valerie Margaret HOLT
(Liberal Democrat)

Many of these actions are because there has not been adequate general long-term planning and developments have been left with only residual options. The easiest thing then is to stop cycle routes. Better long term planning is necessary and more consideration to the separation of cyclists from motorists and pedestrians as a given - not just as an optional extra.

Simon Anthony MITTON
(Conservative Party)

Use Section 106 to create replacement cycle parking superior to that removed.

Patrick SHEIL
(Labour Party)

I would lobby for provision (both on highways and in parking) for cycles at the planning stage. I would cultivate relationships with planners and traffic engineers emphasizing the importance of cycling and its value in relieving congestion. A disposition should be maintained in favour of cycling contraflows in road networks like New Street and Harvest Way with one-way systems for motor vehicles. I would write to developers at an early stage of the planning process reminding them of their moral and legal obligations towards cyclists. Where necessary I would protest any new development plan that does not take account of the need for cycle paths to be provided.

# Question 6

Cycle routes which are narrow and involves sharp turns and chicanes make routes difficult or impossible for users of tricycles, handcycles and cargo bikes, impairing accessibility for the most vulnerable. Can you think of anywhere in your ward that is difficult to use on a non-standard cycle and what will you do to improve it?

Martin Julian BONNER
(Green Party)

There are a number of such places in Castle - the cut through between Richmond Road and Windsor Road, and Bermuda Terrace are a couple I can think of. The cut through between Windsor Road and Warwick Road has got better in the last few years.

Improving these junctions is not trivial though - in all the above cases, the obstructions slow normal cyclists down, which reduces the danger to pedestrians. There is a tension there which I am not sure of the best way to resolve (apart from the general principle of "separate cyclists and pedestrians").

Valerie Margaret HOLT
(Liberal Democrat)

The major area of problem is the traffic-light system and intersection at the top of Victoria Road, Histon and Huntingdon Roads and Castle Hill. I often wonder if two roundabouts would not be easier but it is almost impossible to see how that could be simplified. The other area of more specific trouble is in Storeys Way where the confusion at the pinch point is potentially dangerous. I would remove the pinch point and put a cycle crossing instead. Also, where the bend above Churchill has a blind spot as you cross the road, again I would put in a cycle crossing. Getting across Huntingdon and Histon Roads to go into town and getting out of all the side roads onto these roads are potentially dangerous unless the cycle routes are widened.

Simon Anthony MITTON
(Conservative Party)

Pedestrian crossing at traffic lights at Huntingdon Road / Victoria Road (where the new student accommodation building has just gone up) The barriers to protect pedestrians were wrecked months and months ago but nothing has been done to replace them. I have put this as an Action Point in my Election Address leaflet

Patrick SHEIL
(Labour Party)

There are frequent dips on pathways on Madingley Road. There is also the mini-roundabout and the floodgate-and-bollard system on Bridge Street and the turn-off down Round Church Street. The design of the latter is not ideal and directs cyclists to the left of the road putting in the path of buses turning left. I would consult on possible remediation with engineers and planners. Generally, I would want to see cycle paths being made wider for the sake of tricycles, cargo bikes and similar.

# Question 7

The North-West Cambridge development will increase the number of people cycling along the Coton path, Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road into the city centre. What do you think needs to be done to cope with additional demand on busy routes?

Martin Julian BONNER
(Green Party)

I don't know. I quite agree that improvements will be needed, but I don't know what at the moment. Suggestions will be gratefully received.

Valerie Margaret HOLT
(Liberal Democrat)

I have suggested that consideration is given to introducing a one-way traffic system such a that used in Johannesburg. They have large swinging red traffic lights that allow traffic to flow in one way in the morning and change to flow out the opposite way in the afternoon. The road changes width to allow a much wider cycle route which reverts to a wider road once the rush hour is over. On road parking must be revised to take cars off the roadside and to facilitate vision of both pedestrians and cyclists.

Simon Anthony MITTON
(Conservative Party)

Coton Path needs a major upgrade

Patrick SHEIL
(Labour Party)

I would look at putting cycle warning signs up (for motorists) ahead of the junctions on Madingley Road (e.g. Hedgerley Close, Bulstrode Gardens, Wilberforce Road and Grange Road) to alert motorists to cyclists passing in front of them. I would make attempts to slow down traffic at the complex junction by the Travellers' Rest on upper Huntingdon Road with private turn-offs on the left (coming from Cambridge) and Whitehouse Lane and the Hotel Felix on the right. I would give better warning to motorists leaving Cambridge of cyclists turning across the road to go into Howes Place / Lawrence Weaver Road / Yeoman Drive and similar. I would want to have plans in place for scheduled maintenance of and possible upgrades to the Coton path, including attention to the surfacing on the stretch that goes past the old Cavendish Laboratory. I would want the findings of the *Cycle Safety In Storey's Way: Problems and Solutions* report prepared by Nick and Sue Finer, Harriet Gillett and Dr Phil Trathan to be circulated and acted upon in the light of the massive increases in traffic that will result from the North West Cambridge Development, the West Cambridge Development and the NIAB Site Development. You can contact me (mothdomains@fastmail.fm) for a copy of this report or send an email to cyclingstoreysway@gmail.com and request one. There should be training on the societal value of cycling for Stagecoach bus drivers. It should be easy to implement; after all, at present - for better or for worse - there is only one company. Lorry drivers' accreditation ought to include an understanding of where their blind spots are. Delivery van companies should be contacted and given information about what is expected. I would write to the police urging that the onus of responsibility in collisions be on whichever vehicle is faster. In general, I would want to urge mutual respect between cyclists, pedestrians and those using mobility vehicles and would counsel care and attention in road use, following the Highway Code and humane consideration for other road users by all parties.

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.