The County Council’s Network Service Plan 2004, published in April, gives us some idea of the changes we can expect in the next year or so.
I’ve mentioned before that, like many sets of ‘targets’, ‘Public Service Agreements’ can lead to a distorted perspective and items that are not targeted can be disadvantaged. A new set of Public Service Agreements is being proposed for Road Safety, Bus Satisfaction and Footway Maintenance. Note that there is no mention of cycling. Failure to meet targets can lead to loss of Government monies.
But there are some positive notes:
- Extra Government money is being made available to develop infrastructure in advance of developments on the urban fringe (Growth Area Delivery Grant). This should enable hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cycling facilities in addition to those already planned.
- Under ‘Highways Maintenance’ the report says ‘Additional work will be undertaken to cycleways to ensure grass, trees and hedges do not obstruct cyclists.’ This relies on cyclists reporting the obstructions to the council as there is no money for routine inspections.
- There is a paragraph about the Cutter Ferry bridge (see elsewhere in this Newsletter) and ‘Work on the National Cycleway Network in partnership with the City, districts and Sustrans give us the unique opportunity to raise the profile of cycling both nationally and locally. The Challenging target is to complete the NCN in Cambridgeshire at least to an interim standard by summer 2005 in time for the national opening of the network’ (September 2005 in Cambridge).
Looking at the 25 pages of tables it is clear that cyclists should benefit under a number of other headings. Safer Routes to Schools has a budget of £450,000 and ‘Jointly funded minor improvements,’ with a budget of £620,000, has a number of speed reduction schemes for villages. Unfortunately we often only see these schemes when they are on the ground where their road narrowings and poor quality ‘shared use’ paths can disadvantage commuting cyclists.
‘Safety Schemes’ has a budget of around £1m for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, with the recently proposed Carlton Way (see Shorts) getting £350,000.
Of course ‘Bus Priority’ schemes, with a budget of nearly £1m, still include Hills Road and Milton Road, but given the requirement for the County to consult and to provide justifying evidence, perhaps the money would be better spent improving cycle routes?