This article was published in 2014, in Newsletter 116.
Cambridge is growing. New developments in North and North-West Cambridge, Trumpington, Great Kneighton and Northstowe will bring needed housing to Cambridge. On the Addenbrooke’s site, AstraZeneca and Papworth Hospital are moving jobs to Cambridge and Jesus College is proposing a new science park on the southern fringe.
But along with benefits, growth also brings problems, especially to an already stretched road network. Obviously, as a campaign, we view cycling as part of the solution to this concern. Space-efficient, predictable, door-to-door transport: cycling brings benefits both to individuals and the city.
New developments should be an opportunity to get cycling facilities right from the start. The physical constraints of the existing road network which force compromises on improvements for cycling shouldn’t exist in the same way when building from scratch. It should be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how to build wide, uninterrupted traffic- free cycle routes, or provide ample, secure and convenient cycle parking. New developments could provide a shining example of how cycling infrastructure could be done in the UK, building appetite for better in the rest of the city, and providing practical examples of how it can work. Advice and guidance are in the new edition of Making Space for Cycling: A guide for new developments and street renewals.
Sadly, our ambitions are rarely matched by developers.
Too often we find that new developments, while trying to push their cycling credentials, fail on the most basic provision. Papworth Hospital has proposed cycle parking on double-decker racks, at the back of the building, for only 23% of staff, while setting the building in spacious grounds. The North West Cambridge development, as explained later in this Newsletter, is creating junctions as hostile to cycling as any in Cambridge to connect the site to the rest of the city.
It is hard to know how to prevent this. Even early engagement does not protect against poor design, which can originate from people outside Cambridge who don’t understand the context and amount of cycling in the city at rush hour.
When we went to public consultation for the AstraZeneca site to complain about cycle parking it was encouraging to hear that they had already been told about the problem by lots of other people and would be changing their plans to reflect that. The Campaign cannot exist in isolation and we very much need our members to add weight to the detailed responses we give to developers. Eventually, over time, someone might get the message.
Cover photo: a maze of staggered crossings at the junction of Huntingdon Road and Lawrence Weaver Road. See article later in this Newsletter