Greater Cambridge Cycle City?

This article was published in 2013, in Newsletter 109.



David Earl wrote about the Greater Cambridge City Deal in Newsletter 107, and following that bid those councils who bid were offered the opportunity to bid for further money to improve cycling, independent of any money for the other deal. These are called Cycle City Ambition Grants, and will give some £10 per head over two years, but require the authority to continue to spend money on cycling for further years.

Following a slightly hectic process (you want it yesterday?) Cambridgeshire County Council submitted a bid to cover the area of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire in April. So after all that rush you might expect an early announcement of the winners, and there will be only three. A few weeks ago there were rumours in the press that Manchester had won, and I’d heard rumours that Cambridgeshire had won. Other rumours suggested an announcement in June was ‘delayed’, but that it will be announced in mid-August.

Proposed radial routes on Huntingdon Road (not to scale; Cambridgeshire County Council).
Image as described adjacent

So it may be that it won’t have been announced even by the time you read this. Lest you have not followed this process in detail, I will give some headlines from the bid. Like all such things the devil is in the detail, and there is not even much detail in the full bid.

Major improvements?

Some sections of radial routes will get ‘hybrid’ or two-way segregated lanes, and new off-road cycle routes will be created adjacent to fast rural main roads where cycling is clearly suppressed. It is required that this initial ‘investment’ of the Department for Transport (DfT) fund occurs in the first two years, followed by extensions using local money in following years. Any engineer will tell you that anything that involves major moving of services or land purchase needs a lead time of at least two years. Some ‘typical’ sections for radial routes are at camcycle.org.uk/jumpto/Radialroutes

It needs to be remembered that details of services, driveways, lamp posts etc. need to be accommodated. It will be particularly interesting to see how such routes will cope with bus stops. Transport for London has proposals for cycle routes to the rear of bus stops, and I know a similar arrangement has previously been considered for Huntingdon Road.

Success in the bid will mean even more staff working on cycle schemes, and it is the number of existing staff (to prepare such bids), and the number of those cycling (to encourage DfT that they will see value for money) that gives our county a better chance of winning a bid than an area with only the occasional cyclist.

Fingers crossed?

You can read more about the bid submitted by Cambridgeshire and DfT guidance at: camcycle.org.uk/jumpto/CycleCityBid and gov.uk/government/publications/cycle-city-ambition-grants

Jim Chisholm