As you have read CCC has decided not to co-operate with plans to build a giant shopping park near Arbury. Edge-of- town developments such as these are bound to increase traffic and the 2600 car parking spaces clearly shows the reality of the situation: that Sainsbury’s are attempting to use CCC as a token, car drivers being the real target for Sainsbury’s leading to a dramatic increase in motor traffic. Furthermore city centre shops will undoubtedly suffer, with the loss of community that that would bring.
On the other hand we also have a problem in the city centre. As officers from the two councils pointed out at the recent consultations regarding King’s parade and St Andrews Street the real problem in the centre of Cambridge is the Lion Yard car park, which draws large numbers of cars into the city centre. However, to lobby for the reduction of car parking space in Cambridge, without providing alternative transport would no doubt increase pressure of edge- and out- of-town developments like Arbury Park.
This brings us to the root of the problem. City centre traffic problems can only really be solved by a dramatic reduction in motor traffic, in turn increasing traffic to other developments. The only real alternative is an policy of increasing public transport, on a permanent and consistent basis to facilitate travel to the city centre, and a concerted attempt to provide a high quality network for cycling.
But these require an integrated approach from a body with the power to develop such facilities and the will to do so. Most of all they require investment. The County Council has neither the will or the ability to deliver, and it seems that the only people able to put in the cash is the private sector. It is criminal that Sainsbury’s is offering such an extensive public transport to the outlying villages, as well as cycle facilities, which is the job of the County Council.
In other words, even if our arguments about cycling were accepted, we are up against two major barriers. Firstly, the laissez faire attitude to planning which this country has always perpetuated, and which is currently even more popular, with Councils failing to take a direct lead in planning large scale integrated systems, and secondly, the increasing dependence on the private sector for public development.
Given the scale of the problem, what can CCC do about it? We can operate on two fronts. We can, at one level, develop and promote a vision of Cambridge, with cycling and public transport at its centre, at least giving people the opportunity to see what Cambridge could be like. Secondly, we can campaign at a much lower level aiming for much smaller changes. Alterations to junctions, new cycle facilities, lower speed limits on specific streets, restrictions to motor traffic in particular places, better cycle parks and so on. By lobbying the councils, the police and local organisations we can improve conditions for cycling more slowly.
Over the next few months we are planning to form subgroups to look at both these sorts of issues. If you can get involved – we can and will make a change.