Progress has been made with improving the attractiveness of cycling as a mode of transport in the last three years, during the period of funding for Cambridge as a Cycling Demonstration Town. However, a lot more needs to be done, as we outline below. It is important that this momentum is not lost.
The Cycling Demonstration Town programme has seen a higher focus on higher quality infrastructure than has been previously the case. For instance, the CDT programme has avoided the provision of narrow (1.2m) cycle lanes, lanes which tend to cause more problems than benefits.
Much-needed on-road improvement schemes in the city, such as Hills Road Bridge and Gilbert Road, and the upgrading of the Tins Path have finally come to fruition. Cycle links to and between surrounding villages in South Cambs such as the Whittlesford – Sawston – Babraham route, the Fen Ditton to Horningsea route, and the Babraham Road Park & Ride to Wandlebury route have been achieved.
Cycle training has improved, with the introduction of Bikeability cycle training (as well as adult cycle training), more promotion of cycling has been achieved, and the problem of widespread shortage of cycle parking around the city is starting to be addressed, though much more needs to be done.
However, a number of the schemes have been compromised by the tight timescales in what has been a three-year funding period. The Horningsea route includes a very problematic section due to the withdrawal of funding for a signalised crossing at the A14 sliproad which is dangerous and devalues the rest of the scheme. The Madingley Road cycleway (an area long needing improvement) falls far short of Dutch standards, with missing sections, poles remaining in the cycleway and lack of priority at sideroads. And on Gilbert Road, Councillors succumbed to localised pressure to remove the speed reduction element of the improvement there. Elsewhere, poor-quality, pavement-based schemes are still being proposed.
The challenge for the next five years, then, is to build upon the good work that has been achieved, complete the schemes which could not be achieved within the tight CDT timescale, and to ensure that schemes do not contain unacceptable compromises.