The National Cycle Network in Cambs

This article was published in 1995, in Newsletter 1.

This article is adapted from one by Nigel Brigham, 1 All Saints Rd, Peterborough PE1 2QT (01733 890651), who should be contacted for further information.

Sustrans proposals for the 5000 MILE NATIONAL CYCLE NETWORK were launched at a conference in Birmingham on 6/4/95. Since then the proposals have received local and national media coverage and have generated a lot of enthusiasm.

The Birmingham conference was aimed at local authorities who have a vital role to play in the development of the National network, and it was attended by about 460 delegates from as far away as Devon and Inverness. Many of the delegates were senior councillors. Cambs County Council and Cambridge City Councils also sent delegates, but the S Cambs delegate was unfortunately sick.

Within E Anglia, Suffolk and Norfolk have reacted most positively with Suffolk CC commissioning a report to finalise plans for the National Cycle Network within Suffolk, and Norfolk hosting a conference of their own on 12 June. Both counties are keen for their sections of the network to be complete before the 2005 deadline initially proposed by Sustrans. It is hoped that all counties within the region will take a similar approach to Suffolk so that proposals can be finalised and attention turned to completing the network as soon as possible.

The proposed National Cycle Network is a linked series of traffic-free paths and traffic-calmed roads running right through urban centres and reaching all parts of mainland Britain. It should be a safe, attractive, high quality network for cyclists and a major new amenity for walkers and people with disabilities.

The intention is to create high quality routes that will be a catalyst for the development of better facilities for cyclists generally. Sustrans believe that the development of safe, attractive routes is vital to encourage more people to cycle.

Although Cambridge already has a higher proportion of journeys made by bicycle than any other UK city, it would still benefit by increased cycling and from the National Cycle Network by:

  1. Improving and extending existing routes within the City.
  2. Making links from these routes to the countryside giving Cambs residents safe access to the countryside and commuters safe access from the villages to the city.
  3. The National Network routes would hopefully be seen as prestigious routes and as an example to follow.
  4. Cycle tourism would be encouraged and tourists could visit Cambridge without blocking its streets with their cars. Cycle tourists spend more time and money in an area than motorists and would obviously be keen to visit the city.

The details of the National Network routes are not yet complete, though for the purpose of estimating the routes have been drawn on maps. The finalised proposals would need to be agreed with all local authorities and other concerned groups. The intention is for the local authorities to include the proposals in their plans and strategies and seek funding. The Millennium funding would be very useful, but most money is expected to come from Local Authority bids to the Department of Transport, who have been very supportive.

The proposed routes from Cambridge:

  1. Cambridge to Milton Keynes via Coton, Sandy and Bedford.
  2. Cambridge to Felixstowe via Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich.
  3. Cambridge to Peterborough via Waterbeach, Stretham, Ely, March and Whittlesey.

The way these link into the National Network is shown on the national plan (for details contact Sustrans). This is still very much open for discussion as proposals for improvements are received.

Within Cambs current estimates show that the majority of the route would use existing minor roads, though some of these may need traffic calming as the standards set for the Network are very high.

The routes have been chosen to give an attractive leisure route serving as many people as possible with cost obviously a major factor. It is not expected that people would travel large sections of the route on a regular basis, but it is expected that many people would use short sections for trips to school, work and shops. Based on surveys of current use, measures of population density and the National Travel Survey, it is estimated that the Network will carry over 100 million journeys per yea, with the urban sections most heavily used. Roughly 60% of journeys will be to work, school and shops while 40% will be leisure. 55% will be on foot and 45% by cycle, a high proportion of the latter being journeys not previously made by cycle.