Elections

Local elections (City), May 2018: King's Hedges

Summary: Elections to Cambridge City Council in May 2018
Polling date: Thursday 3rd May 2018
Ward:
Candidates
(by surname):
  • Angela DITCHFIELD  (Green Party)
  • Daniele GIBNEY  (Liberal Democrat)
  • Anette KARIMI  (Conservative Party)
  • Martin SMART  (Labour Party)

Questions for King's Hedges ward candidates (8 questions)

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

# Question 1

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?

Angela DITCHFIELD
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Daniele GIBNEY
(Liberal Democrat)

I grew up in the Netherlands, and so have been cycling from a very early age. I’ve never owned a car, and aside from a period of 1.5 years when I commuted by train, cycling has always been my primary mode of transport. Since moving to Cambridge, I’ve always been lucky enough to work locally and have a pleasant cycle commute. My partner is also a cyclist.
I don’t have either younger or older family members locally, but in general I’m worried about more vulnerable cyclists. That’s not limited to children or older people – several young adults I know are unsure on a bike. I was amazed when I moved to Cambridge to see how often cyclists are required to share road space with buses, and in general are given little protection on busy roads. I know people who are less confident can be put off cycling in such circumstances.

Anette KARIMI
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Martin SMART
(Labour Party)

Preamble

Memories of my childhood are rather hazy now but I do remember a couple of bikes. I think one of the first was a small bike probably with 14 inch wheels that I bought off my friend Paul Taylor for ten shillings. I seem to remember that transaction as happening at the same time as playing a marble game in the gutter with him but I can’t remember now how the two relate. Perhaps not at all. Anyway, it was a jolly little bike, painted with gold paint and was great fun to cycle around the back lanes and through the puddles.

Some time later I remember having one of those family trips with mum and dad to a bike shop in Stokes Croft in Bristol. My brother didn’t come but having both parents on such a trip raised the stakes considerably. It was an important trip and I knew it. It was probably a Raleigh main dealer and I still remember the smell of the bikes on entering the shop, mostly the combination of the smell of rubber and grease. It was my birthday. I got a Raleigh Hercules Jeep. It was a single speed, with 18 inch frame, 24 x 1 3/8 inch wheels and with white saddle bag as standard, chain guard and calliper brakes in sunset yellow with carmine trim. This magnificent beast served me well for many adventures with friends in Bristol and further afield on day trips out to the Mendips and even, I seem to remember, to the coast, perhaps Clevedon or Portishead.

On moving into my later teens in Bristol, and into my twenties at polytechnic in Plymouth, I didn’t cycle. The following year in London I worked as a cycle courier for a while and learnt to cycle in a way that kept me alive, perhaps ‘offensive cycling’, but anyway taking up space on the road and definitely not staying in the gutter. My orange plastic shoulder bag was super trendy and I liked the lifestyle. However, going into the winter and cycling for a few hours in the rain caused me to reassess the lifestyle after suffering from probably only mild hypothermia, but it didn’t feel nice. I then took to a desk job drawing up lighting plans and so on in an architectural practice near Old Street and took to the Tube for transport from then on.

From there I went to Glasgow for a couple of years as a student at the School of Art and I continued not to cycle. I think this was probably due to a combination of steep hills and carrying portfolios to and fro.

After that, in Southampton, I got a nice secondhand red racing bike. The frame was too big but otherwise it served my needs well. Lots of short journeys around town and a few trips out into the countryside.

Chapter One

When I arrived in Cambridge 25 years ago I brought the red racing bike with me. I enjoyed cycling around and exploring the new city that my partner and I had chosen to move to.

Some time later I swapped my racer for a locally bought butchers bike which I used for shopping at Arjuna and other local shopping trips. Also, when we had twins in 1996 they used to love sitting in the banana box at the front for little trips over Parker's Piece and suchlike. A great bike for carrying all manner of loads! It was unfortunately stolen after a few years but luckily it turned up a week or so later, rather damaged, but I managed to get it renovated and it saw many more years of active service. By then the twins, or rather Anna and Jack, had their own little Raleighs with the all-important baskets for carrying essential teddies and so on.

Later, much later, I traded my butcher's in at a bike shop on King Street so my teenage son could have the second hand but never-the-less super-duper all-singing all-dancing 18 gear off-roader in the window he desired! I missed the butchers bike a bit and he all too soon grew out of his off-roader. However, things move on, and later I bought a second hand garage clear out job lot of bikes for the whole family. This was great fun and included a small-wheeled home-made red tandem in welded square-section steel tubing. All the family, and friends too, enjoyed playing around with it on trips roundabout the local area. It also provided another cycling seat if we had more people that bikes. In that bunch of bikes we also had a Bickerton Portable, a great find. I've since restored it, though it was off the road for a while with a broken peddle, and more recently sold it. There were also smaller bikes which the children used, and abused! The boy so enjoyed his bike that when I went to get it repaired the guy said he'd never seen a bike that was so damaged in so many ways! I seem to remember that at one point he cycled it into a brick wall. Not worth mending apparently, so I had another one made up out of spare bits for him. The girl got hers stolen, never to return, but then, she hadn't locked it up! For my part I got a rather rugged old Raleigh which I re-sprayed, got some repairs done, and finally added a huge trailer which I got for my birthday. I then went off down Mill Road, Snakey Path and over the railway bridge to Bookers wholesale to do large shopping trips, as well as the veg shopping and organic food still at Arjuna, as I did 25 years ago!

With the trailer off I usually cycle on a daily basis to wherever I'm going. Sometimes I used to get the bus, for example to meetings in Papworth for Disability Cambridgeshire, and occasionally I have hired a car if we need on to do things as a family further afield . If it's just me I often use the train but if it's all five of us it usually costs a lot more on the train or coach, and we do have a car now.

Just to say, this has all been rather utilitarian, and we have of course been off on recreational rides. For example, one lovely trip, when the children were younger, was when all five of us cycled up the river, out of town. We had decided to have an 'art trip' and stopped up toward Baits Bite Lock to do some pastel pictures. We were lucky enough to find a woodpecker and all had a lovely time drawing it as we tucked into a picnic lunch. What better thing could you do with a bike than a trip such as this?

This is a long and rambling answer to the question, and in fact I've cut out quite a bit, but that it the nature of a cycling life. The bike, or rather bikes, in our family, have been part of many of the stories of our lives living here together in Cambridge, and I hope will continue to be so in the future.

I have grown up here and lived and worked in Cambridge for a large part of my adult life. Cycling has always been my most often used form of transport.

Chapter 2

The black bike of the previous chapter eventually started to grind to a halt as friction on the bearings got the better of me. As we had recently got the twins new freewheel single-speed bikes from Hackney Cycles and they have been very good but in terms of build quality and usefulness on the flat streets of Cambridge, I then couldn’t resist getting the same one as my son had, a very smart looking one all in black. Very practical, actually. This unfortunately got stolen whilst out canvassing during the run up to an election. I claimed on the insurance and got an even smarter looking one from the same shop, again all in black. The insurance claim was a mistake as with that and other claims the premium went up, a lot. Clearly, the point of insurance is to pay for it but never to actually make a claim. Whilst all this was going on the rest of the family seemed to be upgrading their bikes. My older daughter got a Felt racer, needing something to get her around at uni. My younger daughter got a B’twin racer from Decathlon, a very competitively priced brand, and both giving good service. And my son got a replacement bike the same as mine for uni travel. My partner got a Sparta step-through, very useful for cycling to the train station in longer dresses or coats. Thinking about this, I feel we have come a long way from our early days of bike ownership. I guess our bike experience reflects the very diverse and exciting possibilities open to consumers both online and from shops.

Bringing things up to the present day, I’ll just recount a couple of experiences I had before Christmas. Both happened in December, a particularly busy time on the roads. First, I was cycling back from a meeting to discuss the Greenways project and as I turned into Warkworth Terrace, about half way along, a car came speeding towards me, literally at me, and I had to throw myself to the left to avoid it crashing into me. I was a little hurt but not as bad as it could have been if I hadn’t got out the way. My son said he had seen a speeding car on Warkworth Street earlier so probably the same one. This is right next to the police station of course, and I phoned up to let them know, but nothing came of it. The second occasion was when I was cycling into town to buy Christmas presents. I was going along Regent Street onto St Andrews Street and about to pass through the bus gate outside Mandela House and as I did a Stagecoach bus overtook me and the side of the bus crashed into me causing me to be thrown off my bike. It was quite a serious incident. I lay on the ground for a while and then a couple of medical professionals who happened to be passing administered first aid. I think they said they were nurses. Anyway, I got up OK, and spoke to the bus driver who had stopped. He claimed it was my fault but I was careful not to get into an argument even though it wasn’t as far as I was concerned. We exchanged details, although he didn’t give me his driver number as he should have. As we finished up I asked him if he was OK as I’m sure it must be worrying when you’ve nearly seriously hurt someone or worse. At the time a random individual who witnessed the incident and was so incensed by it that he gave me his phone number if I needed a witness. Unfortunately, Stagecoach never returned my calls for some time, and now, April of the following year, their insurance company is still refusing liability and will not pay the costs of the damage to my bike and helmet and so on. I did not mention the fact that I am a city councillor, and in fact the Lead Councillor for cycling, as I didn’t want to play the ‘councillor card’, but rather be treated like any normal member of the public. It would be interesting to find out under an FOI how many incidents are reported by drivers, how many claims are made, and how many actually get paid. I suspect that the numbers diminish substantially for the three categories as the route to a successful claim seems to be to be very difficult to achieve.

Further to the above, two of my three children have been crashed into by cars and the third constantly reports of problems with cars nearly driving into her, drivers shouting at her, and suchlike whilst trying to negotiate Hills Road on her way to sixth form college. And by the way, she’s a sensible person in all respects.

For my part, I am now much more concerned and less comfortable when using the roads, and at the same time I am very vigilant, looking around me all the time to check for safety. Perhaps these incidents serve a useful purpose in that I have come through them in one piece and perhaps that will continue to be the case, hopefully! Anyway, the point I’m really making here is that we really do need to have as much protected space as possible and segregated cycling routes so that cyclists feel safe because if they don’t then they will not cycle and some of them will end up using cars again instead and we’re back where we started. As they say, ‘every cyclist is a car off the road’. However, in terms of the question and younger cyclists, that is those who don’t drive, then they don’t have that option so we must protect space for them to be able to cycle safely.

# Question 2

A key aim of our organisation is enabling more people to cycle, by the provision of protected space for cycling away from traffic, not shared with pedestrians, thus reducing traffic and providing transport choice. This best-practice is outlined in our guide, Making Space For Cycling, endorsed by all national cycling organisations. Do you support these principles, and if so, where could they most effectively be applied in your ward?

Angela DITCHFIELD
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Daniele GIBNEY
(Liberal Democrat)

Yes, I support these principles. For Milton Road, I support the proposals for segregated cycle lanes with priority over side roads. On King’s Hedges Road, I’ve long been bemused by the cycle lanes that hop on and off the pavement. Linking from King’s Hedges Road to the cycle lane alongside the busway is very confusing – the interchanges have no clear route through and signage is poor.
There are a lot of off-road cut-throughs in our ward – which is excellent, but some are narrow and have blind spots, and are used by both cyclists and pedestrians, leading to potential conflict. It would be good to see improvements made, though possibilities in each case will naturally depend on available space and balancing the effects on our green spaces. The cut-through between Woodhead Drive and Hawkins Road is an example of dedicated space done well, though with a very awkward dog-leg at one end.

Anette KARIMI
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Martin SMART
(Labour Party)

Making space for cycling is very important and I support segregated provision wherever the available space makes this possible. This has been done on Hills Road and Huntingdon Road in Cambridge and can be seen to work well. In King’s Hedges I have been a councillor for the past four years. I have worked on behalf of residents with the Greater Cambridge Partnership to get the best possible outcome for the Milton Road scheme. I have been involved from the early stages with the improvements to Arbury Road and look forward to the next phase coming forward. I believe that it would also be worth looking at possible improvements to both King’s Hedges Road and to Campkin Road in the future.

# Question 3

Safe use of the roads is a major issue. Our view is that traffic policing, of all groups of road users (cyclists, drivers, etc.), should become a greater police priority, and that this should be evidence-based, namely based on the relative levels of danger presented by each such group. What are your thoughts, and where would your priorities be?

Angela DITCHFIELD
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Daniele GIBNEY
(Liberal Democrat)

I fully agree with taking an evidence-based approach. Not just in terms of relative danger, but also in terms of the amount of impact that can be achieved – e.g. is it possible to ‘nudge’ behaviours to make big differences. I’ll be interested to see the outcomes from ‘Operation Close Pass’, and whether the same techniques have any effect on other behaviours such as using mobile phones while driving. Some larger vehicles can pose a particular danger to cyclists, particularly if their mirrors leave areas unsighted. The London Safer Lorry Scheme is interesting – requiring e.g. all heavy vehicles to carry appropriate mirrors to be able to see cyclists and pedestrians. I’d like to see similar ideas adopted in Cambridge.
I think cyclists also need to take responsibility though. When I learned to drive, I was stunned by how hard it is to spot unlit cyclists in the dark, and I get nervous when I see people using phones while cycling. These cyclists put themselves in danger, but if there’s a collision drivers and others can also get hurt. Cyclists should always be considerate around pedestrians in shared use areas.
Policing approaches should be about education, not just sanctions. Education campaigns can operate more widely though, for example advocating the ‘Dutch reach’ – I’ve been doored in the past so I’m very keen on that one.

Anette KARIMI
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Martin SMART
(Labour Party)

It is very important that cyclists are made to feel that they will be safe when using cycling infrastructure or they will move away from it and use other options. For example they will choose to cycle on the pavement instead of the road. It is critical that we all understand that vehicles can injure and even kill cyclists whereas cyclists can injure pedestrians but not kill them. This common sense approach needs to be taken on board by all concerned, including the police.

# Question 4

We are keen to see more children being able to cycle safely to school independently. Ideas from our members to assist this include protected space for cycling, parking/pickup bans 200m of schools, cycle parking. What measures would you suggest?

Angela DITCHFIELD
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Daniele GIBNEY
(Liberal Democrat)

These sound like good ideas. Also engage with schools (we have quite a few in King’s Hedges) to get a sense of any particular issues affecting the routes their students use (or would use, but feel they can’t). It would also be worth engaging with parents, to understand and, hopefully, address their concerns.

Anette KARIMI
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Martin SMART
(Labour Party)

I would suggest using measures to encourage children and families to choose to use healthy, safe and sustainable modes of travel to school. These include cycling, walking, skating, scooting, skateboarding and any other similar such method. Using vehicles to transport children to school disempowers children, costs more, pollutes the environment, does not give children or main carers any exercise and runs the risk of hurting other public highway users like pedestrians and cyclists who are not protected inside a heavy steel box.

# Question 5

Our volunteers spend a lot of time scrutinising planning applications for failures such as lack of secure cycle parking, poor access, failure to fund nearby improvements to make the roads safer, and so on. Many of these things get let through by officers and Councillors in clear contravention of the Local Plan. The lack of a full-time cycling officer makes this situation even worse. What are your main concerns about the planning system, and how would you seek to make improvements?

Angela DITCHFIELD
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Daniele GIBNEY
(Liberal Democrat)

As I’m not currently ‘on the inside’ I don’t have full insight into the system. However, I do share your concerns about cycle facilities not being catered for appropriately, or indeed being watered down as plans are implemented. The CB1 development is a case in point. I’d want to understand better how these issues arise and where controls can be strengthened. I’m sure the Cambridge Cycling Campaign would be able to suggest some recent examples that would be worth looking into.

Anette KARIMI
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Martin SMART
(Labour Party)

This is good work by Camcycle and largely unknown by the general public. Perhaps something to publicise more. Council officers do the best they can but you are right to allude to the lack of resource. However, I believe it is the quality of advice rather than the quantity that makes the difference and with the emerging Local Plan we have the opportunity to put in place policies to regularise the inclusion of good quality cycle provision in applications coming forward.

# Question 6

Protected junctions where walking and cycling traffic are fully separated from motorised traffic have been proposed by Cambridge Cycling Campaign for junctions being rebuilt by the Milton and Histon Road GCP projects. Which junctions do you think would benefit from similar safety improvements within the Cambridge area?

Angela DITCHFIELD
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Daniele GIBNEY
(Liberal Democrat)

These are interesting proposals, and the video makes very clear how the separation of cycle traffic improves flow. I felt very uncomfortable watching the video illustrating the original proposal - it clearly does nothing to help the existing conflicts between motorised and cycle traffic coming from the north - I feel nervous going straight on at that point.
Mitcham’s Corner is an obvious junction that needs to be redeveloped in a way that gives cyclists and pedestrians a safe, clear route. The existing development framework explains the current issues for cyclists and pedestrians clearly, but the guidance could be firmer on how non-motorised traffic can be better served. There needs to be a clear north-south through route for cyclists, as well as straightforward options for turning onto Chesterton Road or Victoria Road heading west when coming from the north - I take that route fairly regularly. The Elizabeth Way / Chesterton Road roundabout is also very uncomfortable for cyclists in most directions. A bit further afield for me, the Sainsbury’s roundabout on Coldham’s Lane is a nightmare.

Anette KARIMI
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Martin SMART
(Labour Party)

Potentially lots, but I look forward to seeing how these ones on Milton Road and Histon Road do first. The Milton Road scheme is in my ward and I have attended many and various resident meetings with regard to that. I have at times expressed some doubts about the proposals for Milton Road so I am particularly interested in how this scheme turns out. My concerns are many and varied but in terms of this aspect I have mostly safety concerns. I am worried that vehicular traffic will not recognise the need to give way to bicycles in the arrangement proposed. I am very much aware that I am not a traffic engineer so do not presume to know what is best. I just aim to bring a common sense approach to the table, and feel duty-bound to say what I think even if it goes against resident views, especially when safety an issue.

# Question 7

What will you do about pavement parking in King's Hedges, for example, on the roads off Northfield Avenue?

Angela DITCHFIELD
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Daniele GIBNEY
(Liberal Democrat)

There are a few options for managing something like this, such as a traffic regulation order or physical barriers on the pavement, and each comes with pros and cons. As a party, our preferred approach is to consult with residents locally to find an approach that carries support, and arrange the appropriate applications. The best option may differ from one street, or set of streets, to the next.

Anette KARIMI
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Martin SMART
(Labour Party)

Pavement and verge parking is a real problem in King’s Hedges. It sometimes blocks the way for less able pedestrians and especially for wheelchair users. It looks unsightly and spoils the grass on verges and cracks and otherwise damages the pavements. We have already brought in Traffic Regulation Orders for Ramsden Square to stop this. This was done after consultation and support of local residents there. This may well be the way forward for other areas, after consulting with local residents of course.

# Question 8

How would you improve permeability and accessibility for walking and cycling through King’s Hedges, especially with regard to the inaccessible barriers that block access to larger cycles such as tricycles, cargo cycles and adapted cycles for disability?

Angela DITCHFIELD
(Green Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Daniele GIBNEY
(Liberal Democrat)

I understand that the Cambridge Cycling Campaign has had their LHI bid supported to review the barriers in King’s Hedges and Arbury, so hopefully improvements are already in store. There are some that simply need to go – on the cut-though between Campkin Road and Ramsden Square for example, which is almost impassable for a normal cycle, and completely impossible for larger cycles (or indeed wheelchairs and mobility scooters). The gates on the Northfield Avenue underpass, and elsewhere, are really awkward for cyclists with trailers and other longer vehicles. Where necessary, it’s possible to use bollards that will still deter motorised traffic, while giving sufficient space for larger cycles.

Anette KARIMI
(Conservative Party)
The candidate has not responded to the survey.
Martin SMART
(Labour Party)

Some cyclists cannot dismount and push their cycle through barriers. They can block access to disabled cyclists. Access control barriers such as A-frames, K-frames, York Chicanes and kissing gates cannot be used by cyclists who cannot dismount. Any barriers that block access to some users is an equalities issue and would need to be replaced with more suitable ones wherever possible.

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.