Science Park stuck in the 1970s

This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 133.

Image as described adjacent

Walking? The main entrance to the central facilities in the Trinity Centre doesn’t even have a pavement. Wheelchair user, parent with a pram, or a business traveller with a wheeled suitcase? You will find that where there is a pavement there is sparse and inconsistent use of dropped and flush kerbs. Cycling? You have no dedicated space, and will often be forced onto the loop-road, which by design encourages fast driving.

The Science Park has been designed to be accessed by car: it has a massive multi-lane junction with Milton Road and more space given to surface car parks than to buildings. This strategy has failed. Some days the queue of cars for the junction with Milton Road backs up to one kilometre within the Science Park. Encouraging driving contributes to the blocking back of junctions on the A14, and congestion on Milton Road and King’s Hedges Road. The Science Park cannot accommodate more jobs and contribute positively to the local economy without a dramatic rethink of how people travel there.

Walking and cycling, where considered at all, seem to be mainly considered as leisure activities. Winding paths around decorative features are shown up by worn grass along the more direct desire lines. Narrow gravelled paths have wheel-ruts down the sides where people have ignored the provided surface, which is totally inadequate for cycling. These shared paths do not give pedestrians and people cycling the space they need. There is clearly demand for better.

A lot has changed around Cambridge Science Park since the 1970s. The Jane Coston Bridge makes it possible to walk or cycle from Milton to the Science Park without crossing junctions of the A14. The Busway connects Histon and Impington, Oakington and Longstanton and other villages to the north, enabling journeys by bus and cycle. New developments such as Orchard Park and, in future, Northstowe are well connected to the Science Park by non-car means. Cambridge North railway station has opened opposite the Science Park, enabling easy sustainable travel from more starting places. Whether walking and cycling are your mode of transport for your whole journey, or only the last leg of a journey by bus, train or Park & Ride, there is a wealth of options to travel to the Science Park from many destinations, but once you set foot or bike inside the perimeter you are abandoned.

There is the potential for something truly excellent here: for stress-free, safe and convenient travel to and around the Science Park by sustainable means. Cambridge Science Park was once visionary in anticipating the demand for and benefits of a high-tech cluster on the edge of a university city. It is time for the Science Park to lead the way again, as an exemplar of a modern, sustainable development.

Hester Wells

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