This article was published in 2022, in Magazine 154.
Living Streets Cambridge is the local branch of the national charity, Living Streets. We focus on supporting the rights of walkers and improving the quality and safety of the infrastructure provided for walking. Our work parallels, and our interests often coincide with, Camcycle.
We formed the Cambridge group towards the end of 2020 and our first action was to conduct a survey of the city’s residents assessing their perception of, and concerns about, the state of its footways. Responses exceeded 300 and membership started to grow as it was conducted. The release of the final report, From Risky Streets to Living Streets, in June of 2021 and the subsequent press coverage swelled numbers and prompted the City and County Councils to discuss reviving a Joint Action Group on walking. The Highways and Transport committee also assured us that a major increase in maintenance funds had been granted and repairs would be accelerated, though no schedule of work has been provided.
During the remainder of last year we asked members to identify physical obstacles that walkers encounter in the city, from street furniture and A-boards blocking access for wheelchair and buggy users, to flooded pavements affecting everyone. We continue to press the Highways Committee to address these as a priority, for the Joint Action Group to meet and for residents’ concerns to play a key role in prioritisation for maintenance.
Currently we are collaborating with the RNIB and Cam Sight on a campaign to tackle the scourge of pavement parking which has increased markedly since Covid lockdowns commenced. The ‘See Cambridgeshire Streets Differently’ campaign features a video, produced by the RNIB, illustrating the particular dangers pavement parking poses for the blind and partially sighted. You can watch it on our new website stumblingstreets.com.
We invite everyone to submit photographs of vehicles blocking pavements in the city for publication on the site’s ‘Rogues Gallery’. Photos should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state the precise location and date wherever possible.
We are also commencing a process of collecting, collating and publishing photographs and the locations of all major barriers encountered by walkers. These could include pavements that are sloping, uneven, cracked or potholed, blocked by misplaced street furniture or uncut hedges, impassable because of persistently uncollected waste bins, and anything that impedes access or forces walkers into the cycle lane or the road. We are also keen to capture instances where e-scooters, cycles, and other two-wheeled vehicles are being ridden on the pavements. This causes alarm to elderly or disabled users and it is important to understand the scale of this misuse if we are to make the case for enforcement.
Finally, I will be visiting Living Streets members ward by ward over the next few months to identify and photograph the major problem areas encountered by local walkers. This will enable us to build a fuller picture of the distribution of problems.
If you would like to discuss any of this or propose other activities, contact me at email@example.com. To join the group, please visit livingstreets.org.uk/get-involved/local-groups/cambridge.
David Stoughton, Chair, Living Streets Cambridge