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Bicycles now make up almost a quarter of traffic in Cambridge, says county council

Cycling continues to boom as Cambridgeshire looks to build on momentum of Cycling Towns initiative

Cambridge, already the UK city with the highest levels of cycling in the UK, saw strong levels of growth in 2011, with bicycles now accounting for nearly a quarter of all traffic in the university city according to Cambridgeshire County Council’s annual traffic monitoring report.

The number of cycling trips in and around Cambridge grew by 14 per cent during the year, with a rise of 21 per cent in trips from neighbouring villages into the city, where 22 per cent of traffic is now accounted for by bicycles, according to counts made at a number of locations.

Within the boundaries of the city itself, cycling rose by 12 per cent, which the council attributed in part to improvements made to routes including Gilbert Road and Hills Bridge Road, as well as the provision of increased cycle parking spaces throughout the city.

As reported on earlier this month, Cambridge railway station, long criticised by local cycle campaigners as providing insufficient capacity for those wishing to ride their bike to catch a train, is set to become home to the UK’s largest Dutch-style CyclePoint.

According to Cambridgeshire County Council, counts of cyclists take place each year at the same sampling points throughout Cambridge. Some 29,388 cyclists were counted crossing those points during a single day in 2010, rising to 33,518 last year. It added that the same rise was recorded by automatic counters that tally the number of cyclists riding past each day.

Cambridgeshire County Council said that the strong growth was in part due to the city’s former status as one of the now abolished Cycling England’s Cycling Towns initiative, which saw £9 million pumped into 14 new or improved cycle routes as well as other activities such as providing training to adults and children.

The Cycle Cambridge project set up as part of that aimed, in the county council’s word, “to get more people cycling, more safely, more often,” both by targeting new developments being built in Cambridge and by trying to get more people cycling into the city from the villages surrounding it.

The success of the latter was demonstrated by the fact that these were the journeys that showed the strongest growth during 2011, up by 21 per cent, also boosted by new routes from Cherry Hinton, Cottenham, Harston, Histon and Horningsea, as well as the on a cycle path running alongside the recently opened Guided Busway.

Since Cycling England was axed by the Coalition Government last year, efforts to promote cycling in Cambridge are now taken place within the structure of an EU-funded initiative that goes by the name of Bike Friendly Cities.  As part of that, Cambridgeshire County Council says it is working with partners in Netherlands, Belgium and France to make cycling more attractive, as well as safer.

Partners in that project, which runs initially until 2014, include Sustrans and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in the UK, the Municipality of Middelburg and Province of Zeeland in the Netherlads, and local authorities in Boulogne and nearby Neufchâtel-Hardelot in northwestern France.

Elsewhere in the county, the council says it is continuing to invest in cycling within the scope of its Market Towns Transport Strategy, while it has also recently submitted a bid for money from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund which, if successful, would see seven-figure sums put into cycling initiatives within the Ely-Cambridge and Huntingdon-Cambridge corridors.

Steve Criswell, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, commented: “I am delighted that the investment in cycling has increased levels of cycling further in the Cambridge area, which was a major challenge when such high levels already existed.

“Cycling plays such a vital part in tackling congestion in the Cambridge area to ensure that the city is able to function and keep moving.

“The County Council will continue to work towards improved safety for cyclists, and to invest in sustainable transport options to ensure that people are able to live healthy and independent lives,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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