Trinity Street: a way through?

This article was published in 2003, in Newsletter 49.


Good news

In a bold and very welcome move, councillors have voted to allow two-way cycling in Trinity Street between 10 am and 4 pm Mondays to Saturdays (when almost all motor traffic is prohibited), as an experiment. The next steps are formal consultation and decisions about signage needed.


Councillors voted 7-3 in favour of a 6-month experiment to allow two-way cycling in Trinity Street.

Cycling is currently allowed in Trinity Street at all times when travelling from Bridge Street to King’s Parade. However, cycling in the other direction is not permitted, nor is there any suitable alternative route during 10 am-4 pm, as the city centre cycling ban prohibits this.

As we reported in Newsletter 45, the Cambridge Environment and Transport Area Joint Committee resolved in October 2001 that ‘there should be a comprehensive review of cycling access in the city centre, with a view to minimising cycling restrictions whilst maximising pedestrian and cycling safety.’ This resulted in a questionnaire, which, as would perhaps be expected given that it did not stop cyclists to obtain their views, resulted in support for maintaining the status quo of the cycling ban.

In a response earlier this year to some local Councillors on the City Centre Review, we said:

The City Centre Review needs to accept the principle of a more direct convenient North-South/South-North route at the very least. We believe that, with Officer co-operation and thorough investigation (rather than outright dismissal), Trinity Street could be such a candidate and would resolve many of the problems we currently see. … The lack of a northbound route, we believe, is a contributor to the level of illegal cycling currently encountered.

We were delighted when on 20 January, City and County Councillors asked Officers to produce a report on how, not whether, two-way cycling could be enabled in Trinity Street, either part-time or all day, as we reported in Newsletter 46. Several councillors, to their credit, spoke strongly in support of such a change. This report came back to the Committee in July.

Councillors voted 7-3 in favour of a 6-month experiment to allow two-way cycling in Trinity Street.
Two-way cycling in Trinity Street

The Officers’ report and the vote

As expected, the Officers’ report came out heavily against making Trinity Street two-way for cyclists. Although much of their report was well-written and raised valid points, we were unconvinced that Officers really displayed the will to see how two-way cycling could be facilitated, instead sticking to the line they have always taken.

Despite this intransigence, Councillors voted 7-3 in favour of a 6-month experiment to allow two-way cycling in Trinity Street from 10 am-4 pm, Monday to Saturday. We congratulate them on this decision. Councillors have given officers a clear message to facilitate an experiment making Trinity Street two-way for cyclists.

What happens now?

Two things will now happen. In brief, the Area Joint Committee agreed to:

  • Consult on an experimental Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). It is rumoured this may take the form of consultation with city and county councillors as well as interested parties.
  • Ask Officers, in consultation with the chair and local councillors, to prepare details of fixed signing, to be submitted to the Department for Transport for authorisation.

We will be watching to ensure that these steps are carried out in a fair and efficient manner. In particular, we believe Officers must ensure that, if there is more public consultation than the minimum needed for a TRO, it must mention that cycling is already legally permitted in one direction, for the avoidance of any doubt.

The Chair of the Committee hoped that the above could lead to final approval at the Area Joint Committee meeting in October.

The Campaign will probably engage in a leafleting exercise at the start and during the experiment, to make cyclists more aware of their responsibilities not to abuse the allowance being given to them. Although we are fully convinced that the experiment is justified, we strongly believe that cyclists have responsibilities too, as we discuss in our Position Paper on Responsible, Legal Cycling, featured in Newsletter 48.

Martin Lucas-Smith