Cycle Liaison Committee Started

This article was published in 1996, in Newsletter 7.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign has been successful in having a Liaison committee set up to consider cycling matters in and around Cambridge. We wrote to council officers, councillors and other groups in April at the time of our Grand Cycle Ride (see newsletter 6) asking for this, and the councils involved agreed. They too had been feeling that a City Council committee disbanded some years ago had served a useful function, and that a new forum was needed.

The new committee consists of:

  • officers from Cambridgeshire County Council, which is the transportation authority (notably John Richards who has been appointed as Cycling Officer in the County Council, a post which has not existed before).

  • officers from Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire district councils;

  • ourselves and the Cyclists Touring Club; and

  • representatives from disabled interest groups and the Pedestrians Association.

And it will bring in councillors and other relevant people as required for particular issues.

It will look at:

  • details of particular proposals for cycling infrastructure,

  • strategy for cycling in and around Cambridge (our Manifesto will be very helpful here)

  • standards and guidelines for cycling provision, how they are applied and their appropriateness for the area.

  • consultation on impact of traffic management in general on cyclists.

In its first year, the committee is working in the context of decisions made by the council last year. This means that priorities have already been decided for this year, but not necessarily details (and of course, the council committees still take the decisions in the end). In practice this means that one scheme construction is imminent: a shared-use path between Comberton and Toft; one is designed: a signal-controlled crossing of Huntingdon Road near Girton College; and three are scheduled but not designed: Barton Road within the City (see separate article); Butt Lane between Milton and Impington (likewise); and a short “missing link” between Milton and Waterbeach (though the rest of this is of dubious quality anyway).

[GIRTON CROSSING]

The committee has already met once, in addition to a preparatory meeting between John Edwards and Andy Walford of the County Council, Dave Earl and Mark Irving. We talked about three main things:

  • the background and terms of reference, and in particular the scoring system used by the Council to try to establish a priority for highway schemes.

  • our suggestions about Barton Road

  • a list of topics for future discussion and how we would handle a systematic geographical review of the area.

The scoring system is worth a few words. This is used to decide between schemes, of which there are always more than there is money to build. It assigns numbers to different aspects of proposed changes, and the weighted sums of these then give the score. What weight is given to different factors has changed over time, for example in light of the relatively recent package funding approach agreed with government for Cambridge, which puts forward a “mixture of solutions to overcome the dominance of the car”. The scores consider:

  • effectiveness (does the proposal help solve the problem that has been identified)

  • accident record (classified into fatal, serious and slight, using 3-year reported accident records before, and estimates for after)

  • congestion effects (only major changes)

  • ease of use for cyclists

  • ditto for pedestrians

  • balancing traffic flow

  • effects on public transport

  • environmental impact both of the scheme and more or less traffic.

The committee won’t be able to solve all our cycling complaints, but hopefully it will allow us to provide input into the system before schemes are too far advanced, and perhaps we can start to see a shift away from the emphasis on shared-use pavements towards cyclist convenience and priority on the road.

Dave Earl