The Transport Plan

This article was published in 1999, in Newsletter 24.

We introduced you to the County’s Local Transport Plan in Newsletter 23 and in the leaflets that we circulated. The process has now moved on a little.

This year a ‘provisional plan’ is being prepared, leading to a five year plan being submitted next year. The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions has just issued its final guidance to Local Authorities for this year’s plan. It acknowledges the pressures this year’s tight schedule causes. The guidance also sets out what it expects to see as a minimum in the plans and what it thinks would be a good plan, for each of the topics it covers. Of course, things like maintenance, road safety and so on all affect cyclists – and there’s some good stuff in those sections – but here I concentrate on the County’s plans specifically for cycling.

One big point of controversy is likely to be the extent to which traffic reduction targets are adopted

The County Council is now expecting to consult much more widely on its five year plan starting in the autumn. We have been told that this year’s plan will be used as a basis for that consultation, a starting point, and that there will be attempts to reach a wider public in the process. For example, a wider population of cyclists would be surveyed, a very welcome move if it is done right. We could usefully make some suggestions about what the Council might like to ask.

In the meantime, we have now been able to meet the County Council to discuss our response to this year’s plan. We were pleased to hear, among other things, that it was accepted that more effort needed to go into marketing and promotion of alternatives to the car beyond Park and Ride.

One big point of controversy is likely to be the extent to which traffic reduction targets are adopted. The clear thrust of the County’s leaflet earlier in the year was that it might only be possible to set targets on growth outside Cambridge, and to stay at current levels in the City. However, we are now being told that targets might instead be couched in terms of ‘modal split’ – limiting percentages of car users – which means traffic in the City might not even be capped, despite the strong support for this in the consultations.

Taxing business car parking spaces is the other big area where the Council is expecting to get lots of flak and to be politically sensitive. However, they can expect to get broad support for this from us and other ‘sustainable transport’ groups. Handled correctly, this is at the same time going to be a disincentive to drive and a major source of funds for the alternatives, including provision for cyclists.

David Earl

Strategy to encourage cycling expected of a Local Transport Plan (DETR, April 1999)

Minimum requirements

  • A discrete strategy for encouraging cycling
  • Establishes an unambiguous target that contributes to the national targets for increasing cycle use
  • Evidence that cyclists have been given a high priority
  • Ensures that encouraging cycling is part of all transport policies, including road safety strategies
  • Evidence of interaction with local planning authority to ensure that land use and development planning allows and encourages people to cycle
  • Reviews the road network, to establish where improvements to assist cyclists are needed
  • Assess the of quality of existing cycle networks, with improvements as necessary
  • Implements measures to improve safety of cyclists and reduce conflicts with other traffic, including pedestrians
  • Evidence of partnerships with other local organisations to promote cycling, including health and education sectors

Characteristics of a Good LTP

  • Adopts a formal order in which planners consider the needs of different user types, placing cyclists near the top
  • Partnerships for action with health, education, commercial and voluntary bodies
  • Plans for improvement of physical provision to be based on methodical application of Cycle Review guidelines
  • Cycle Audit of all road and traffic schemes
  • Aims to improve interchanges, and increase opportunities for combined cycle and public transport journeys
  • Encourages cycling through Travelwise, Green Commuter Plans, Local Agenda 21 and School Transport Plans
  • Minimises conflict between pedestrians and cyclists