Area Transport Plans reviewed

This article was published in 2005, in Newsletter 59.

We have reported before on the growing list of ‘Corridor Area Transport Plans’ for Cambridge and the surrounding areas: first Southern (1999), then Eastern (2000), and more recently Northern and Western (2003) plans. They each look at development pressures in specific areas and list measures that can be taken to reduce their effect on transport. The costs of the these measures are fed into a formula that determines the financial contribution required from each developer.

In February, all four of Cambridge’s Corridor Area Transport Plans were reviewed and the Campaign responded to this consultation.

General themes

All four plans include multiple bus priority measures (Hills Road, Milton Road, Histon Road, Madingley Road), and also improvements to Hills Road Bridge. We said:

Cambridge Cycling Campaign has contested the benefit of some recently proposed bus priority schemes using data that we ourselves have collected. Any such schemes need to be properly assessed, and not just put forward on the say-so of bus companies. Such schemes need to consider the disbenefits to cyclists, especially as these occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, whereas the benefits to bus operators may only be for an hour or two on well under half of the days in the year

We are concerned that the deliverability of the proposed improvements to Hills Road Bridge is listed as low. These improvements are important for cyclists as well as for buses and we consider that greater efforts should be put into improving their deliverability.

All four plans include contributions to the Core Traffic Scheme. We said:

Much of this scheme has given great benefits to cyclists, but on the ring road itself some schemes labelled ‘improvements for cyclists’ have actually disadvantaged cyclists. Two components of the core scheme which would give benefit to cyclists are the introduction of a ‘core’ wide 20 mph limit, and the removal of car parking to allow space to be reallocated to cyclists (e.g. Queen’s Road). Loss of revenue from paid parking needs to be included as a cost, but the benefits to cycling would be large.

Pedestrian and cycle improvements

A total of £1,600,000 is earmarked for ‘upgrading existing cycle and pedestrian links in corridors’. We said:

  • we hope that the £1.6 million to be spent on existing links will allow them, and all other new routes, to meet the ‘soon to be announced’ Manual for Streets standards.

Amongst many other brief comments on individual schemes, we particularly welcomed:

  • the Riverside cycle bridge (£1,900,000)
  • the proposal for a ramp from the Carter bridge (across the railway line, between the railway station and Mill Road) down to the station car park (£150,000)
  • Cambridge western orbital cycle route (£2,737,500)

We proposed two further schemes for inclusion in this section:

  • Mill Road: We said that, within the city, measures are needed to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in Mill Road, especially to reduce traffic speeds and to ameliorate the impact of the extra traffic generated from the proposed new eastern developments. This road seems to have been overlooked as a candidate for attention in recent years but remains a real problem despite being used by enormous numbers of cyclists.
  • One-Way Streets: We asked to see allocation of funds for schemes to convert one-way streets for use by two-way cyclists, work already agreed in principle by the Cambridge Environment and Transport Area Joint Committee.

Finally, we asked for a number of ‘missing links’ for cyclists and pedestrians to be included:

  • Trumpington (Church and P&R) to Harston: This link, which would enable cyclists to avoid the very difficult M11 junction and the traffic lights in the area, has been discussed as part of the developments on the old Monsanto site. Completion before the start of the Addenbrooke’s link road would remove most cyclists from an area of major road works.
  • Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians over Cam adjacent to railway bridge: The lack of a link from the Ditton Fields/Jubilee Way to the Northern Fringe and the proposed Chesterton Parkway station makes a major block for trips by sustainable modes. It needs to be programmed in before the link across the railway at Chesterton sidings.
  • Cambridge Commercial Park/Business Park to Nuffield Road and Long Reach Road: The ‘operational’ St Ives branch railway has long provided a barrier to creating a valuable link in this area. Now that this is officially closed, a route from the Northern Fringe (East) to both Nuffield Road and Long Reach Road would be highly deliverable, and would cost little. Such a route would allow many cyclists, including those from Milton, to avoid a difficult section of busy road.
  • West Cambridge (University Site) to Bar Hill: Bar Hill is the most inaccessible ‘necklace’ village for cyclists with the A14 acting as a major barrier. With the extension of the Western corridor, there is the opportunity to include a route to Madingley, Dry Drayton, and hence Bar Hill, by using existing accommodation bridges, under the M11 west of the University Farm and then over the A428(T). We would also suggest investigation of a cycle track alongside the A14 towards Bar Hill.
  • Haslingfield to Grantchester: This route over concrete farm roads is already used by some cyclists. The crossing of the motorway avoids the alternative busy M11 junctions (J11 or 12). It is a ‘permissive’ route by kind permission of the owner who asks that cyclists write for individual permission and carry the authorising letter. The status needs to be upgraded to a ‘normal’ permissive path.
  • Cycle track along A1307 towards the major new employment developments at Babraham and Abington (extending the existing route which ends at the roundabout south of the P&R) and the leisure sites of Magog Down and Wandlebury.
  • Major refurbishment of the existing cycle track along the A603 to Barton and Comberton. This is an existing and well-used link which has deteriorated alarmingly in numerous places and which is continuing to get worse. Some sections appear to be collapsing. The collapses at each end of the M11 bridge are so severe that the path there has been closed for nearly two years and there appears to be no prospect of it being reopened. Deep cracks have appeared on other sections but repairs have left the surface uneven and uncomfortable. The entire route needs major refurbishment and many sections need to be completely reconstructed.

Clare Macrae