Disruptions to Cambridge’s transport system for the visit of the Tour de France have been announced this week, but have been dubbed a “nightmare” by one unhappy councillor.
This week Cambridge Council announced that no buses will be able to access the city centre on the July 7 race day, adding to the disruption that will be caused by the road closures that were announced in March.
Calling the planned inner-city transport disruption a “nightmare”, councillor Charlie Nightingale told Cambridge News: “I welcome the Tour, but I can’t understand why the roads need to be closed for this long period of time.”
The roads in the vicinity of the Parker’s Piece start line are set to be closed from from 5.30pm on July 6, the day before the race. Some roads will reopen at 3pm, once the race has left the city, but others are expected to stay shut until 6pm. This means some roads will be closed for up to 24 hours.
As well as extensive road closures, the council have announced that the city’s buses will also have no access to the city centre.
Buses coming from the south are set to terminate at the train station, while buses from the north will be halting their service at one of three locations: Caids Causeway, Mitcham’s Corner or Queen’s Road.
Businesses on the route will be affected too. Scotsdales Garden Centre in Great Shelford, four miles south of Cambridge, will be forced to close on the day of the race as staff won’t be able to get to work early enough. This is predicted to cost the business around £50,000.
Travel disruptions are not only set to affect commuters, businesses and tourists, but also schools and hospitals.
Some schools have preempted possible disruption by announcing plans to close on July 7, while Addenbrooke’s Hospital plans to step down its activity on the race day, focusing its efforts on emergency operations only and moving routine procedures to the weekend before.
The council’s transport director, Graham Hughes, emphasised that the road closures were necessary: “We completely understand that some residents and businesses may feel that the race will cause them problems. However, the road closures have to put in early to allow the Tour organisers to prepare the route.
"With such a large scale event, residents, businesses and visitors are being given advanced notification to help get ready, plan and enjoy a unique day in Cambridge’s history.”
While the council’s early warnings about the road closures may not be the most inspirational way of helping the city’s residents to enjoy the Tour de France’s visit, one member of Cambridge Council has called for flexible working on July 7 to help workers enjoy the day.
In November, Councillor Ian Manning wrote on his website: “This is a unique opportunity for the people of Cambridgeshire and it would be a real shame if they were to miss out on witnessing this historic event when flexible working could allow them to attend.
“I hope the county council and other businesses across Cambridgeshire will find ways to allow their staff to enjoy the event and be part of history in the making.”