The Road Traffic Reduction Bill, drafted jointly by Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and the Parliamentary Plaid Cymru, was introduced by Don Foster MP (Lib Dem, Bath) and is now going through Parliament. It would require local councils to set targets for reducing traffic in their areas and to produce Traffic Reduction Plans outlining those measures which, in their opinion, would be necessary to achieve such targets. The Government agreed to support the Bill after deletion of the national targets originally envisaged (5% reduction from 1990 levels by 2005, 10% by 2010).
The Bill is supported by most national environmental groups, Cambridge MP Anne Campbell, Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and several parish councils in South and East Cambridgeshire.
The Bill is especially significant because it provides a statutory channel for local authorities to call for changes in government policy. It is unlikely that significant progress can be achieved unless local or central government raises money, by taxes or charges on motorists, for use in developing alternative modes of transport.
As this is written, Transport 2000 Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk is consulting with local organisations, including the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, on a model Traffic Reduction Plan giving a list of proposals, both general and specific, which we believe Cambridgeshire County Council should consider for inclusion in its own Traffic Reduction Plan.
Here are some proposals which would help cyclists:
- Set up a comprehensive ‘safe cycling’ network to Sustrans standards. Every main village in the county should be within reasonable cycling distance, by such a route, of a rail or bus service that runs in the evenings and on Sundays.
- Improve cycling facilities at main junctions in urban areas. In Cambridge this would include routes across the A14 roughly following the old roads to Milton and Histon.
- Provide cycle carriage facilities not only on trains but also on a network of ‘strategic’ long distance bus routes.
- Increase the safety responsibilities of motorists.
- Use schemes like shop deliveries and neighbourhood crêches to reduce the need for people to drive rather than carry heavy shopping or children on bikes (or buses).
We hope that CCC members will help to make traffic reduction a key issue in the forthcoming general and county council elections.
Simon Norton, Co-ordinator, Transport 2000 Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk.