This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 16.
As in past years, the County Council hasn’t enough money to fund education, social services and transport. The Environment and Transport budget is also under pressure from rapidly rising waste disposal costs – Cambridgeshire residents are throwing more away every month. To fund the shortfall, the Department has made cuts to pedestrian crossings, the programme for lowering village speed limits, and a quarter of the subsidised bus services. While the bus cuts will not affect Cambridge cyclists, both rural speed limits and pedestrian crossings are of great concern.
Speed is the biggest killer on Britain’s roads. A 20 mph reduction in speed can mean the difference – quite literally – between life and death. Suffolk has applied a 30 mph limit in every village for several years now, and this helps establish the habit of driving slowly near any dwellings. Cambridgeshire planned to reduce its 40 mph limits to 30 mph, too, but won’t now make any changes in the coming year. Part of the reason for choosing this for budget cuts is the attitude of the police: lowered speed limits, without any other changes, mean more work, and police budgets are tight, too. They have consistently opposed reductions in speed limits, claiming they are unenforceable.
Barton Road was on the list for a new crossing, one which would have made the new shared-use path on the north side of the road more accessible. It won’t now get it this year. Crossings generally are shared by cyclists, especially at busy times. They help to reduce average traffic speeds, and can serve to break up the relentless stream of peak-hour traffic.
Cyclists suffer because we are throwing too much away, rather than repairing, reusing or recycling it.