Campaigners question Cambridge City Council's commitment to cycling in parking row
Second phase of cb1 development approved despite "botch," while railway station parking remains an issue
Cambridge Cycling Campaign has questioned Cambridge City Council’s bicycle-friendly credentials after the second phase of the landmark £850 million cb1 redevelopment project were approved despite what are described as “barely acceptable proposals” in terms of provision for cyclists. Meanwhile, an online petition has been launched to try and remedy the longstanding problem of cycle parking around Cambridge railway station.
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans also criticised the provision made for cyclists in the design of the second phase of the project, which includes four residential blocks that between them comprise some 150 apartments, with one block also having retail and catering units on the ground floor. Another 19 flats will be located at Spillers Mill, being redeveloped following a fire last year.
Appearing before the city’s planning committee, Jim Chisholm from Cambridge Cycling Campaign highlighted that most of the cycle parking provided in the plans was in a “dark and inaccessible” basement, reports the website Cambridge News.
While original plans had been revised to provide for a bike-friendly lift as well as cyclists being allowed to use a vehicle ramp, Mr Chisholm insisted: “This is just another botch when cycling provision should have been designed in from day one.”
Rohan Wilson, area manager for Cambridgeshire for Sustrans, also criticised the plans, saying: “Cycle parking should on the ground level where cycles will be used and only a shallow basement should be considered acceptable.”
Their objections went unheeded, however, as the planning committee approved the scheme, with Councillor Kevin Blencowe, a member of the committee, saying: “In terms of the focus building, the mill itself, I think that, if it’s done well, this is going to be very much a welcome landmark building for both the area and the city.”
Afterwards, Martin Lucas-Smith, co-ordinator of Cambridge Cycling Campaign, said in a statement: "The Local Plan is clearly defective if, in a city of cycling, it is acceptable for brand new developments to have manifestly inconvenient cycle parking access via a car ramp with traffic lights, a steep staircase or lifts that barely fit two bikes. These won't encourage people to see the bicycle as the obvious, convenient choice for many journeys."
He continued: “It’s no good for the city council to go on about Cambridge being a cycle-friendly local authority if it can’t even get basics like this right.”
Mr Lucas-Smith added: “If we are to see high levels of cycling and less traffic, it has to reject developments that cobble together barely acceptable proposals at the last minute.”
Cambridge Cycling Campaign is also pushing for urgent improvements to be made to existing bike parking provision around the city’s railway station, which is itself scheduled to be redeveloped as part of the broader cb1 initiative.
While that should result in 2,800 bike parking spaces being put in place by 2020, the immediate problem is the lack of existing facilities, with abandoned bicycles exacerbating the problem, and has led to a petition being set up on the website Fix My Transport.
According to station operator National Express, there is currently parking provision for 333 bicycles at the site, but a cycle count carried out by Cambridge Cycling Campaign in June 2010 found 1,597 bikes parked in and around the station, with many racks having multiple bikes locked to them.
“We feel the idea of relying on a development plan to fix it is not right,” said Mr Lucas-Smith, quoted on the website Cambridge First. “We need to do something now,” he added. “We can’t carry on assuming cb1 will fix it. This is to start to put pressure on the various bodies involved in the supply of the spaces.”
A spokesman for National Express East Anglia told the website: “National Express East Anglia continues to work positively with stakeholders, including the local authorities and Network Rail to identify appropriate schemes to help develop improved cycle parking at Cambridge station.
“We are also working closely with the British Transport Police to clear abandoned cycles left in the cycle parking areas to free up more available spaces,” he added.