Save 4.5 million tons of CO2

This article was published in 2004, in Newsletter 52.

Well, that’s what it says here! (Cambridge Local Transport Plan (2004-11) Appendix 4): ‘it has been calculated that the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air could be reduced by 4.5 million tons per annum if 20% of non-walking trips in the UK were made by bicycle.’

The LTP runs to some 177 pages with the Appendices having a further 300+ pages, so I’m not even pretending to have digested them all. What I hope I have done is to skim the documents attempting to look for the bits most relevant to cycling. Inevitably I always start with such documents at the appendices as that is the bit they don’t want you to read, and they contain the real details and even some amazing facts!

What is worrying is how few really binding commitments have been made. In other sections of the LTP (e.g. bus passengers and road casualties) government grants WILL be lost if targets are not met. In the cycling section there is a commitment to raise the modal share of trips by bike from 14% to 17% in Cambridge, but of course elsewhere (see ‘No Bells for Cambridgeshire?‘ article) it is suggested that in Cambridge such trips are currently being under reported.

Appendix 4 (Table A4.3- Action Plan) says that a local guide for cycle facilities based on Cycle Friendly Infrastructure will be established, and that ‘Cycle Audit’ of all new schemes and significant alterations to the highway will be undertaken. We’ve been asking for this for years, and it’s been promised for years, but without significantly greater staff resources, I’d say it is not achievable. This is a commitment from Year 1. Mr Smith (Director E&T) and Councillor Johnstone, let’s see some real action on which we can congratulate the County Council. In June 2001 we even had an email from the then Cycling Officer, about the Cycle Design Guide, saying ‘Expect something more formal shortly.’ Although the walking strategy has two items referring to extra staff resources, there are no such commitments for the cycling strategy.

Given the commitment to the government-backed publication Cycle Friendly Infrastructure, it is particularly worrying to see that ‘Cyclists’ are at the bottom of the heap (hierarchy) on main roads with priority being given to pedestrians, cars, commercial vehicles, and public transport. In urban and rural areas cyclists are given greater priority, second after pedestrians. Histon Road, Barton Road and Shelford Road are all shown as ‘main roads’ outside the urban area. (Map 5.3 & Table 5.4)

I’d thought table A4.3 saying ‘Establish the key physical barriers to cycling and develop a long-term programme to overcome them’ was more positive until I realised they don’t even start doing that until 2006!

Under ‘school policies’ the only item is ‘Identify those schools that have a policy of not allowing children to bring bikes to school… and provide conditions for the removal of such policies’ but why does this not even start until Year 2?

There is also an action ‘Establish the needs and desires of cyclists by asking them.’ Having been involved in transport professionally from 1969-1985, I found it very odd, when then moving to the ‘Premier Cycling City,’ to discover that nobody had asked such questions of cyclists. Nearly 20 years later they still haven’t. The latest excuse for not doing so in the City Centre Survey, where they only questioned pedestrians, was that a policeman was needed to stop cyclists.

Of course the County may say ‘Why did not the Campaign make these objections at the consultation phase?’ Given the breakneck speed, the unsatisfactory nature of the consultations, and the volume of documentation I’m going to plead fatigue.

Jim Chisholm

If you’ve the time, the 500+ pages are on the web at

Appendix 4, Walking and Cycling Strategy, is at