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Bike vs bus vs car race was staged as Greater Cambridge City Deal opens congestion-busting consultation

Cambridgeshire County Council’s cycling champion has won a commuter challenge today that pitched him against rivals on a bus and in a car – although there’s some head-scratching on Twitter about whether he could have completed the journey in the claimed time.

In a tweet, Greater Cambridge City Deal said that Councillor Noel Kavanagh had ridden from the Longstanton Park & Ride to the north of the city to Guildhall on Market Square in 16 minutes. The bus passenger took 22 minutes and the car occupant 25 minutes.

According to Google Maps, the shortest recommended cycling route is 7.4 miles (11.9 km), most of it on the cycle path running alongside the guided busway, meaning that until he came off there at the Cambridge Science Park, he wouldn’t have had to worry about motor vehicles, junctions, or traffic lights.

Cambridge commuter challenge.PNG

That still equates to an average speed of just under 45 kilometres an hour – around the average speed of a flattish Tour de France stage ridden by professionals on closed roads and able to draft other riders – although those, of course, cover up to 20 times greater distance.

Some local cyclists queried whether the councillor would have been able to cover the distance in that time, including pointing out he would have been up against a headwind.

Whatever the actual distance and time, there was a serious point to today’s commuter race, which coincided with the start of a three-month consultation into an eight-point plan to tackle congestion in the city that has by far the highest levels of cycling in the UK, focused on the following issues.

1 - Better bus services and expanded use of Park & Ride in place before ‘virtual’ road closures
2 - Better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure
3 - Improved public space and air quality
4 - Peak-time Congestion Control Points – camera-enforced closures on key routes during rush hour for vehicles with the exception of buses, taxis, emergency vehicles and cyclists.
5 - Workplace Parking Levy – an annual fee on commuter parking spaces used by bigger business to help fund better alternative transport
6 - On-street parking Controls – including an expansion of Residents’ Parking Zones
7 - Smart technology – intelligent traffic signals and devices to make it easier to travel and move around the city
8 - Travel planning – expansion of the existing service to help people, schools and organisations adapt to any changes.

Councillor Lewis Herbert, chair of the City Deal executive board and leader of Cambridge City Council, commented: “We have to tackle congestion swiftly and decisively for everyone’s sake – for residents, businesses, for the bus passengers who sit idle in traffic jams, and the cyclists, pedestrians, old and young people who face sometimes toxic levels of air pollution when our roads are at gridlock.

“Assisted by responses during this period of consultation, we want to cut congestion from late 2017, not take another three to five years, and have a package of bus and wider improvements in place from the start, including by working closely with local operators.”

“Cambridge is a place for people - not for long queues of cars - and we’re confident this plan will reduce peak-time traffic levels all year round to that usually only seen in holiday periods. That means far more reliable and faster bus journeys, more pleasant cycling and walking conditions and better air quality.

“However, we recognise the potential impact of this proposal and that some people may be more affected than others; we want views on improvements people want to see from the start including local bus services.

He added: “It is vital that local residents, businesses and anyone who travels in, out or within Cambridge for work, study or leisure, and therefore likely to be affected by this plan, has their say before any final decisions are made.”

The consultation, which remains open until 10 October 2016 and will be supported by local events in and around Cambridge, can be found here.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.