By Hannah Brown via LDRS
A number of experimental traffic measures and restrictions in Cambridgeshire are set to be made permanent in a move that some hope will encourage more people to walk and cycle. The measures include restricting car access on some roads, as well as speed reductions and the creation of protected bike lanes.
Cambridgeshire County Council has said the projects all help to encourage people to walk and cycle instead of using a car. However, some of the schemes divided opinion, with some people saying they feel safer, but others raising concerns about the impact on businesses and of displacing traffic to other areas.
Councillors agreed to make scheme permanent
At a meeting of the highways and transport committee this week (December 5), councillors agreed to make a traffic regulation order to make five schemes permanent. These included modal filters installed in Vinery Road and Church Street in Cambridge; one-way sections put in place to create cycle lanes in Cambridge Road, Madingley and Ambury Road, Huntingdon; and the removal of a layby in East Road. The authority also agreed to continue two other trials but with work planned to take place to improve them.
These trials included the creation of a protected cycle lane in the East Road roundabout using flexible wands; and the introduction of protected cycle lanes at the Trumpington Road/Fen Causeway/Lensfield Road junction.
The report said negative feedback had been received about both schemes and therefore officers proposed for more work to be done to improve the changes, including for emergency services and bus services using the junctions. The county council also agreed to support the retention of interim measures at the A505/A1301 junction and the Newmarket Road/Wadloes Road/Barnwell Road junction, and traffic calming measures in Bassingbourn. The active travel schemes were funded following a bid to the Department for Transport’s emergency active travel fund.
Councillors raised some concerns
While the measures were supported by a majority of the councillors, some raised concerns they were “penalising drivers”.
Councillor Simon King said: “I am very dubious about any measures that are pursued to penalise the motorist. I know traffic has risen recently, I know climate change is an issue, but the use of cars and other commercial vehicles is essential to the economy. I think we must all bear that in mind and efforts to encourage active travel, that I support, must be balanced against this and I do not think we always get that right.”
Councillor Lorna Dupré said if the economy was “entirely driven by the car” then that needed to change. She said: “We need not only a functional economy, we need liveable spaces.”
Which experimental schemes will be made permanent?
Vinery Road modal filter
The county council has agreed to make a traffic regulation order to make five measures permanent. The first of these is a modal filter in Vinery Road, in Cambridge. A report presented to the meeting said two removable bollards were installed in October 2022 on the road where it narrows south of the entrance to St Philip’s School.
The papers said the scheme removed through traffic from along the road in order to increase the safety of people walking and cycling, as well as hoping to “improve the attractiveness” of the area by reducing noise and air pollution. Councillors heard that 198 people had written to object to the measures being made permanent, with 75 people writing in support. Some of the people living in the area also spoke to councillors at the meeting.
John Parrott said he had been “relieved” when the modal filter was first installed as he said the road had been an “unsafe rat run”. He asked for the measures to be kept in place telling councillors that children had become used to the “calmer environment”.
Emily Harris said she also supported the restrictions remaining in place. She told councillors that she was a school streets volunteer and said the road outside the school now felt safe. She said: “Please put the safety of the vulnerable road users, the children, first, and allow them to adopt the excellent habit of active travel.”
However, others called for the measures to be removed. Martin Bolt said the “obstruction” was “not just an inconvenience” for people, but claimed it was also increasing pollution and impacting businesses. He said the restriction was causing people to drive a one mile detour, which he said was increasing emissions and placing the “burden” of the air pollution on people living in other streets. Mr Bolt also said shops and the post office were “feeling the strain” of fewer shoppers due to the restrictions.
Church Street modal filter, Cambridge
The county council also plans to make a modal filter on Church Street, Cambridge permanent. A report said removing the through traffic from the road helped to improve safety for people walking or cycling. It added that 111 people had objected to the scheme and 124 people had written in support of the restriction remaining in place. The papers said people had told the council that the area was now “much quieter and more pleasant”.
One-way section on Cambridge Road, Madingley
The county council created a one-way section on Cambridge Road, Madingley to create a “safer and more direct cycle route” from the village into the city. A report said 28 people had written to object to the measures being kept in place, with 30 people writing in support. At the meeting, one member of the public who lives along the road spoke in support of the measures being kept. They said Cambridge Road had been “lethal” before, but said the road was now a “calm, safe route into Cambridge”. They added that they had also seen a lot more people walking and cycling along the road past their house since the measures were introduced.
Contra-flow cycle lane in Ambury Road, Huntingdon
The county council installed a one-way route for cars along part of Ambury Road in order to create a contra-flow cycle lane to allow for a continuous cycle route from the north of Huntingdon to the town centre. The report said the authority had not received any written feedback on the scheme, but said information from monitoring the route showed an increase in the number of people cycling along the road.
Removal of the layby on East Road, Cambridge
Councillors also agreed to permanently close a layby in East Road where a protected cycle lane had been installed. Neil Mackay, managing director of Mackays, said the provision of the layby had been agreed as part of a land swap deal when East Road was first made into a dual carriageway. He said he did not believe blocking the layby would be lawful. County council officers said they had not been able to find a record of the land swap agreement, and said advice they had been given was that the removal of the layby was legal.