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Long-awaited Arbury Road plans also approved in the north of the city

Cambridge News reports that the first stage of the City Deal could bring two new cycle routes to areas south of Cambridge. A report produced by the Deal’s partners describes the lack of a cycling network linking Saffron Walden and Haverhill as a ‘missed opportunity’ and also recommends improvements along the A10 corridor between Cambridge and Royston.

Consultants SQW and Cambridge Econometrics have assessed the relevant economic merits of a number of transport projects ahead of a meeting of the City Deal executive board on January 28. At the meeting, the board will decide which schemes will be delivered in the first five years.

Councillor Susan van de Ven, a member of the A10 Cycling Corridor Campaign, welcomed the news:

“The A10 is a very desirable corridor for comprehensive safe cycling transformation because there are so many employment centres situated along it, including in the smaller villages like Shepreth.

“The A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign now has 135 active members and these include people commuting from Royston, Cambridge residents commuting to Melbourn Science Park, Melbourn residents commuting to Johnson Matthey, Tesco and other jobs in Royston and so on.

“All of these routes are feasible so long as conditions are safe – and all of these routes by car are increasingly subject to congestion and gridlock.”

The report suggests that there is ‘suppressed demand’ for cycling to many business hubs, highlighting how many employment centres – such as Melbourn Science Park and Chesterford Research Park – are located within cycling distance of a bus route or rail station, but yet offer limited facilities for cycle commuters. In reference to a proposed Saffron Walden and Haverhill network cycling scheme, the current lack of cycle paths is described as being a “missed opportunity” and a “real constraint” on growth.

Great Chesterford parish councillor Gareth Bevens, who led the campaign for a network linking Cambridge and Saffron Walden, said that linking the science parks made “an awful lot of sense,” while the leader of Uttlesford District Council, Howard Rolfe, said that a cycle path between Saffron Walden and Cambridge was “a fundamental piece of the cycle path jigsaw.”

Van de Ven says that with growing congestion, improved cycling infrastructure has become vital.

“We are now at a point where the cycling option is not a nice-to-have, but a must. Getting people off the road will benefit those who have no choice but to drive, because the alternative is even greater congestion.

“Certainly vehicle congestion is going to get worse between now and 2016, with so much house-building now under way, so this can’t come soon enough. Both projects could begin as early as this year and be completed by 2016.”

It has also been reported that a long-awaited £450,000 scheme has been approved for Arbury Road in the north of Cambridge. The improvements were approved by Cambridgeshire County Council yesterday having been on the cards for a number of years.

A new crossing will be installed just north of St Catherine’s Road and paths around King’s Hedges recreation ground will be widened and resurfaced. However, plans for the stretch outside St Laurence School have come in for strong criticism from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign. Martin Lucas-Smith, said:

“Shared use, at only 2.5 metres wide, in a busy urban setting, proves poor for pedestrians and cyclists alike, putting them into conflict.

“Pedestrians may be intimidated by close passing cyclists. Pedestrians, especially vulnerable ones, including parents with children, or the elderly, do not like sharing with people on bikes alongside roads. People cycling may become frustrated at slower, stop-start journeys. We feel that there is scope for a better scheme giving much better value for money.”

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