Working for change: local groups

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In and around Cambridge, volunteers are working hard to create more liveable streets and a brighter future for the next generation. Discover their top tips for campaigning and get involved!

Local community groups bring considerable benefits including neighbourly support and the chance to get to know people you might not otherwise encounter. They can also make a significant impact when united by a common goal, particularly when the group can demonstrate clearly how their proposals fit with a bigger picture. At Camcycle’s August meeting, guest speakers from five local action groups shared their experiences and suggestions for successful campaigning together. You can watch the full meeting at camcycle.org.uk/videos

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Save Your Cycle Route (SYCR)

Dan Strauss
facebook.com/saveyourcycleroute

Campaign catalyst

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) proposing Adams Road for the final stage of the Cambourne to Cambridge Busway. This would have added significant numbers of buses to a busy cycle route.

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Key strategies

  • Gather facts and data
    After discovering that the data on cycle usage needed updating, Save Your Cycle Route (SYCR) began counting daily cyclists. They found the number to be 91% higher than the GCP predicted.
  • Get reading
    The SYCR team immersed themselves in relevant official documents to learn about how their plan fitted with the bigger picture.
  • Involve local politicians
    The campaign team wrote to their MPs and encouraged them to join them publicly; this led to further publicity.
  • Gather supporters
    SYCR found that, although many people they spoke with had their own, different agenda, once the issues had been explained, everyone recognised the central flaw in the GCP’s plan. This meant that they could unite.
  • Seek expertise
    SYCR crowdfunded traffic and planning consultants; Camcycle also helped to advise the campaign.
  • Use the power of social media
    The campaign used posters to help spread their message and used social media to get people engaged. They uploaded freedom of information requests, key slides from GCP presentations and visuals of how the road was planned.
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Hurst Park Estate Residents’ Association

Andrew Millbourn

hpera.co.uk

Campaign catalyst

Plans for development of Milton Road including the removal of all vegetation and the building of what looked like a ‘bus motorway’.

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Key strategies

  • Be focused
    Hurst Park Estate Residents’ Association (HPERA) has a clear aim: ‘To strengthen the community and protect and enhance the physical character of the estate’.
  • Work in partnership
    With Camcycle, the group joined the Milton Road Alliance to develop an alternative plan which included trees and segregated cycle lanes. They liaised with local councillors and persuaded the Greater Cambridge Partnership of the wider benefits of their alternative. This resulted in a much improved scheme.
  • Maintain relationships
    HPERA have been involved with a number of projects since, including the planned North East Cambridge development which affect traffic levels in their area, and the relationships they built with planners, councillors and groups such as Camcycle have been important in this work.
  • Expect difference
    At times, being a residents’ group with broad aims means that it can be difficult to reach consensus, which can reduce decision-making to lowest common denominators. Engagement levels also vary depending on the extent to which individuals will be affected by proposals HPERA is dealing with.
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Cycle safety in Storey’s Way

Professor Nick Finer

twitter.com/NWCambsCycle

Campaign catalyst

The construction of the North West Cambridge development which meant that the cul-de-sac in Storey’s Way would become a major cycling route for all kinds of bikes despite its tight widthrestrictions. This small group formed alongside an existing Residents’ Association in order to focus on cycle safety.

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Key strategies

  • Include key stakeholders
    Cycle Safety in Storey’s Way (CSSW) quickly expanded their communications beyond local residents to include key stakeholders. They held a meeting at Fitzwilliam College (on a nearby street) which aimed to explore the situation from different points of view, help with fact-finding and outline future changes and challenges. As well as sharing their own concerns, they invited speakers including local MPs, the new development’s project officer and safety experts to inform attendees about the complexities involved in the issue.
  • Be professional
    The campaign put together and circulated a report which contained pictures to illustrate problems. They also issued press releases to help the local media disseminate the story.
  • Be informed
    CSSW read related official documents in detail. It took time but informed their report and, as a result, their own document has continued to be useful (for example when emergency COVID-19 measures have been considered locally).
  • Work together
    After the meeting, and the dissemination of their report and publicity, campaign action continued through the local Residents’ Association rather than through the CSSW group – mainly because active members straddled both parties. CSSW’s groundwork led to the RA getting a grant of £100k to review traffic control measures including professional advice, consultation with interested parties and implementation. CSSW have been instrumental in balancing discussion with members of the RA as, even if people cycle themselves, they may be opposed to changes which would inconvenience car drivers in their own street.
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Arbury Road East Resident’s Association

Rosalind Lund

arera.org.uk

Campaign catalyst

Milton Road development plans. In 2016, residents at the eastern end of Arbury Road realised that their concerns and interests didn’t coincide with the pre-existing Residents’ Association. Since then, a cycle route has been installed which stops before the eastern end of Arbury Road, where the carriageway tapers, pavements are narrow and there is no safe space for cyclists on the road.

Key strategies

  • Be official
    After an informal start, Arbury Road East Residents Association (ARERA), followed advice to become an official Residents Association. They joined the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations (FeCRA) held an initial public meeting at their local church, elected a committee and prepared their first AGM.
  • Seize the moment
    When Arbury Road was closed due to works, ARERA members benefitted from less traffic. They sent out a questionnaire to find out what other local people thought of the road closure. The majority of participants voted in favour of some sort of modal filter which would keep the road quiet after the works had finished. When emergency measures were announced during the Covid-19 crisis, ARERA used this evidence of local support for a modal filter.
  • Keep campaigning
    Approval for the emergency modal filter on Arbury Road was withdrawn temporarily due to ongoing roadworks elsewhere. ARERA is using the time to fact-find, completing traffic surveys to find out what impact these roadworks are having on Arbury Road, including the additional journey time a modal filter would add.
  • Seek expertise
    ARERA continue to consult with Camcycle – it helps to have one of its trustees living locally!
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A10 Cycling Corridor Campaign

Susan van de Ven

a10corridorcycle.com

Campaign catalyst

An increase in major employment sites between Cambridge and Royston highlighted the long-overdue need for a safe cycle route between the two places.

Key strategies

  • Choose clear and winnable goals
    The A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign knew they had a chance of achieving their aim because they’d read relevant documents: the 2001 census which helped inform the local transport plan showed higher than expected cycle commuting because of large employment sites in the area. The City Deal and other major plans also informed much of their campaign.
  • Look for the money
    In the beginning, there wasn’t much money around for cycling. The campaign worked out that anywhere within a six-mile radius of Cambridge was more likely to get funding, so that’s the route section they focused on. Pots of funding for the rest of the scheme have been won bit by bit when sections of the route have been relevant to broader city and countywide plans.
  • Engage with local businesses
    Travel to work is central to the local economy. The group got buy-in through cycling employees and persuaded businesses to endorse their campaign by signing an open letter, which they shared with the City Deal (now Greater Cambridge Partnership). Some businesses helped gather data on where and how their employees commuted; some offered financial support.
  • Broaden the campaign’s reach
    The campaign’s work with schools resulted in junior travel ambassadors and students attending GCP board meetings. For the pupils, this provided an experience of democracy and they helped to persuade the board on relevant issues. The cycle path is designed as a non-motorised path, so the campaign also engaged non-cycling groups which would benefit.

In December 2020, we’re delighted to welcome another local campaigner to speak at our meeting . Sam Davies explains how the Queen Edith’s Community Forum contributes to discussions and campaigns around cycling issues in the area.

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Queen Edith’s Community Forum

queen-ediths.info

If there’s one bit of the city which needs to get people travelling by sustainable transport, including cycling, it’s Queen Edith’s – the continual and extraordinary growth of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus threatens gridlock in our neighbourhood. The Community Forum is not a campaigning organisation but we see a role in fostering understanding of possible solutions to the traffic pressure the area is under that would contribute to improving local residents’ quality of life. So, for example, in January, we ran two design workshops enabling residents to think about opportunities to create a more liveable neighbourhood in and around Queen Edith’s Way. We were also due to run a cycling day at Nightingale Park in September, as part of the Cambridge Festival of Cycling, but sadly that has had to be postponed.

Given the number of major traffic schemes in Queen Edith’s, such as the Hills Road cycleways and Fendon Road roundabout redesign, we are keen to promote joined-up thinking and good project management to minimise the impact on residents. We are also concerned that new housing developments such as the GB1/2 sites on Worts’ Causeway should be properly integrated with the existing community and ran a Place Standard survey earlier this year to collect views on the strengths and weaknesses of our neighbourhoods. Some of us are active in Camcycle and Smarter Cambridge Transport, which helps enormously with building understanding and dialogue, and we are always wanting to hear to local residents’ views about how we can achieve our mission of making Queen Edith’s ‘a better and brighter place to be’