2012 Transport strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire

This article was published in 2013, in Newsletter 106.

The county council carried out a consultation last autumn on the strategy which will underpin the third Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2011-2026. The document gave background information covering growth, transport funding, and travel habits. It explained the different approaches to the new strategy, which were applied to three broad themes: (A) Managing the transport network, (B) Influencing and changing behaviour, (C) Provision of new transport capacity. The Campaign submitted a detailed letter, making the following points. *

We applauded the attempt to create a transport framework for the projected growth in the region and agreed that the local planning agency has an important role in ‘managing traffic demand’. Our response was in two sections – a general section outlining key points on the strategy as a whole, with a second section making detailed comments on the specific proposals (as set out in the appendices).

Section 1: Strategic overview

We commented on the need to quantify the following issues:

Mode share: The aim of achieving very high rates of cycling could be presented more emphatically.

Investment: The impact of investment in specific traffic infrastructure needs to be quantified, as evidence shows that investment in active modes, specifically walking and cycling, has the highest return on investment for congestion relief.

Health: Transport planning is not only about the movement of goods and people but it is indeed about facilitating a specific way of life. A robust, interconnected, safe and welcoming bicycle network helps creates healthy communities.

Choice: It would be good if the strategic plan spelled out the aim of giving all residents the choice of active modes which are safe and welcoming. Given the historic nature of Cambridge, the area will come to a standstill if the envisioned population growth is not accompanied by a significant increase in active modes.

Pricing: When demand exceeds capacity a quantitative approach to pricing will be appropriate – applied to managing parking capacity and access capacity of certain roads or areas.

Taxis: The transport network does not yet include taxi services. An oversupply of taxis and a scarcity of waiting and parking areas leads to significant negative traffic impacts.

Logistics: The strategy should support the use of the bicycle by businesses (e.g. Post Office, University Messenger Service).

Road safety: Funding should be evaluated so that it benefits all road users, especially the most vulnerable. The strategy should make it clear that road safety is not a funding source for ‘motorised dominance’.

Finally in this section we commented on:

Financing mode share goals: A precise and growing percentage of traffic funding should be marked for bicycle projects. These could include major projects like a necklace village infrastructure (‘M25B’), giving residents in the periphery the transportation choices they have so far been denied. The ‘M25B’ should include funding for compulsory purchase, where necessary. The Chisholm Trail should be listed as a major project.

Spaklerweg, Amsterdam with metro line 51 on the right. This cycleway is uni-directional (i.e. for northbound traffic only) and is a decent width at about 2.5m to 3.0m…
Image as described adjacent

Section 2: Detailed proposals

Appendix A: Managing the transport network

Access control measures: We strongly supported measures to reduce rat-running and through-traffic.

Traffic enforcement: We urged the county council to make a strong and robust approach to the Department for Transport that the powers in the Traffic Management Act 2004 be enabled so that the county can act as a pilot area for enforcement of rules against parking in cycle lanes and bus lanes.

Parking management schemes: Removal of parking on key strategic routes would have a major effect on improving safety and convenience of cycling.

Bus lanes: We welcomed new bus lanes where they are designed to include a cycle lane with them that is additional to the width of a bus.

Improvements for cyclists: We wished to see an end to the view that shared-use pavement schemes are the way to improve cycling. On-road cycle lanes should be a minimum of 2m wide. Removal of parking would create space for Dutch-quality cycle lanes, giving an enormous incentive for people to cycle. The Chisholm Trail (between the two sections of the Busway) is a key strategic route which needs to be progressed; an indicative timeline should be drawn up, and landowners approached.

Pedestrian improvements: Currently, pedestrians are treated as the bottom of the pile when transport improvements are considered.

Use of technology to reduce congestion: We think it scandalous that the bus companies still do not have on-street ticketing. This would massively reduce delays to buses.

Improved travel information: We would like to see the signed cycle network show journey times rather than distances.

Influence national funding decisions: We would like the county to make the case that when a major cycle network is being considered it should be seen in the same way as a large road scheme.

Appendix B: Influencing and changing behaviour

Transport impacts of new developments: Dutch-quality provision should be the norm, not shared-use pavements. Although many of the new developments display some best practice in terms of the Department for Transport’s Manual for Streets as regards local streets, key connecting streets and road layouts are too car-dominated.

Travel plans: There is no hope of seeing a shift away from car-based access to a development if there is nowhere to park a hypothetical increased number of cycles. We strongly supported expansion of the Travel for Work partnership.

Car clubs: We support their expansion by replacing existing car parking spaces with car club spaces and providing cycle parking adjacent.

Travel information: Every new housing unit should receive a cycling guide.

Road safety: Cycle training should continue to be based on the Bikeability scheme.

Alternatives to travel: We welcome work to improve telecommuting.

Appendix C: Providing new transport capacity

Networks of very high quality segregated cycle routes between settlements: We strongly support the need for ‘Dutch-standard’ cycleways. The need for a third cycle park in the city centre is also urgent.

Car/bus/bicycle interchanges at public transport: Cycle interchange with public transport provides the means to increase the number of people able to access public transport, as it reduces the effective time people have to spend to get to it.

Larger scale road safety and capacity improvements: New road schemes should include a cycle element and must not sever existing links. The A14 needs to have a cycleway alongside it.

New Busway routes parallel to strategic roads: New Busway routes should not be at the expense of cycleways which, going through Cambridge, would have a far greater congestion reduction effect.

New Park & Ride sites: We welcome them if they can be demonstrated to reduce congestion by being matched by a consequent reduction in parking spaces in the city centre(s) they surround. Cycle parking should be included at such sites.

Cycle parking: Substantially more cycle parking is needed all around the city, not just in the centre.

Improvements to A-road junctions: We agree with the document that it is important that congestion should not be pushed down to the next junction. Where changes are made, the opportunity should be taken to include cycle priority crossings.

Rail capacity improvements: New rail capacity should include high levels of cycle parking and the county should press for more cycle spaces on trains.

Conclusion: We strongly encouraged the council to adopt a more visionary approach, which includes specific standards and commits new developments to reducing car dependency.

Shirley Fieldhouse

*The Campaign’s full response can be found via the home page of www.camcycle.org.uk