Members’ reports

What’s happened to the commitment for 1,000 extra spaces at the station’s Cyclepoint?

The Cyclepoint is one of the great recent successes for Cambridge cyclists. And it is getting close to full – at peak times it is difficult to find a space if you are too short to use the upper racks, and it has always been difficult if you have a cargo bike or trailer and need one of the ground floor Sheffield racks.

Greater Anglia promised in their franchise agreement to add a further 1,000 racks by 31 December 2020. However, they told the last Cycle Forum that they had agreed with the Department for Transport (DfT) that instead they would install this number at North Cambridge. This all seems odd, as in August they wrote to Daniel Zeichner, the Cambridge MP, that there were already 1,000 cycle spaces at North Cambridge. Anyway, the need is at Cambridge Station itself and it is not clear why DfT would want to agree to such a change.

Cycle parking at Cambridge Station is an important matter for thousands of rail users in the Cambridge area. If a change is proposed to the commitment by Greater Anglia, we would expect consultation with stakeholders such as Camcycle, the Cycle Forum, the Transport Authority and local MPs before any decisions are taken.

We may need to lobby on this subject, but first we need to understand the facts. I have therefore submitted an FOI request to DfT asking them to say precisely what they have agreed and to provide copies of relevant correspondence. A reply is due by 13 December.

Roger Salmon

Taxi fare structure encourages impatient driving

Whilst cycling in Cambridge yesterday I was overtaken by an impatient driver. I was moving reasonably quickly, but the driver couldn’t wait to join the queue of cars waiting at the traffic lights down the road. I can imagine that most people have had a similar experience.

As I often do, I wondered why this driver was so frustrated at being behind me that he felt compelled to overtake, putting me at some risk and increasing the amount of pollution in the environment, without having any positive impact on the time at which he would arrive at his destination.

What was unusual about this occasion is that I may have stumbled upon a reason for this behaviour. The car in question was a taxi. I remembered that taxi fares are based not only upon the distance travelled, but also on the periods of time when they are going slowly or are motionless.

Cambridge taxis charge 20p for each period of 40 seconds spent motionless or travelling slower than 16.79kp/h. As I was cycling faster than 16.79kp/h, the taxi driver wouldn’t earn anything other than his mileage rate by waiting behind me. However, by overtaking me and racing to the traffic lights ahead, he might reasonably expect to earn an extra 20p.

In central Cambridge the number of taxis contributes significantly to the volume of traffic. It may also be the case that the way taxis are driven influences the way that other vehicles are driven.

I don’t know whether this particular driver was at all influenced by the fare structure, but it is clear that the fare structure encourages this form of driver behaviour and that nobody benefits from it. We need to persuade drivers to pay more attention to and be more considerate of other road users. Changing the fare structure for taxis is only one small step in that direction, but it is one which we should support.

Andrew Henderson