Cambridge councillors: ‘We need a citywide transport strategy’
The consultation on Arbury Road could “set a new standard” for a wider strategy on city access, a councillor has said.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Jamie Dalzell, who represents West Chesterton on the city council, says there is a need to reduce car journeys and promote active travel and public transport, as well as tackling rising congestion and pollution.
Fellow Labour city councillors say the full impact of the current Histon Road closure and the planned Milton Road closure must be “fully investigated” before a modal filter is put in place.
But they agree a city-wide transport strategy is needed.
Cllr Dalzell told the Cambridge Independent: “Residents living on Arbury Road have suffered considerably from rising congestion and pollution outside their homes, whilst the IPCC report last week further highlighted the need for urgent action to tackle climate change.
“As a community, we need to reduce the number of car journeys and promote active travel and public transport. To deliver this, the county council and mayor will need to develop a radical strategy for our area. To succeed they will need to trial new approaches and schemes, like the proposals for Arbury Road, so that we can properly evaluate the evidence, address problems and adjust strategy accordingly.
“Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders allow us to test schemes and assess their impact on the entire community before anything is made permanent and should be used accordingly. I do appreciate that there have been weaknesses in the active travel scheme process so far, with a lack of baseline data and no clear criteria for success or failure. This has led to incredibly divisive arguments on Mill Road, but we can do things much better.
“If we take lessons from the past year, the consultation on Arbury Road could set a new standard for the wider city access strategy.”
Fellow West Chesterton ward councillor, Labour’s Jocelynne Scutt, said the consultation has not been handled well from the beginning.
She explained that as schemes are put forward by local members, they become a local issue whereas the impact is much wider.
“I do see there are limitations in consultations, and we can’t consult forever, but I do think the consultation should be better,” she said.
Labour councillor, Jenny Gawthrope-Wood, who represents King’s Hedges and lives in Arbury, added: “I have many concerns about the possible closing of Arbury Road with a modal filter to vehicles, bar emergency vehicles.
“At the moment we have the Histon Road closure and works and in the near future Milton Road works. As a local councillor I’m concerned about the impact of this. Local Labour councillors are keen for the full impact to be investigated with a traffic analysis, certainly before closing Arbury Road with a modal filter. We need a proper exploration of the impact before a decision is made.
“We need – and that is what Labour councillors are working towards – a city-wide transport strategy working with our county council, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and with the GCP to develop and deliver this.
“This needs to include real alternatives to using a car – good quality, reliable public transport and cycling and walking for those who can. There may well be a place for modal filters within that holistic approach where appropriate but – and in this instance – with a proper investigation.
“The Arbury Road closure will do nothing to alleviate congestion in and across the city and has been described as ‘ghettoising’ King’s Hedges and Arbury. It will most likely increase rat-running, increase traffic along minor roads to the north and south of Arbury Road and, importantly, traffic and emissions onto roads adjacent to local schools in Arbury and King’s Hedges.
“We have four schools – Arbury School, The Grove, King’s Hedges and even St Lawrence that are likely to be adversely affected. Arbury Road is already at a 20mph limit, with cycle paths along most of
it and traffic light systems, and the minor residential roads that will take the hit are not as well ‘kitted out.’ We do not want to push emissions and traffic onto these roads.
“This particular closure will increase costs for those without cars, the elderly and disabled who rely on cars, those who rely on lifts and taxis for some journeys and on public transport for others.
“There have been many changes which people have had no control over in the past 18 months – and transitions are always stressful. We recognise that we have to reduce emissions but this is not the way at this time.”
Other current proposals alongside the Arbury Road modal filter include reducing the number of lanes for cars at Mitcham’s Corner and Trumpington Street, closing Coldhams Lane to traffic crossing the railway line, with access to the industrial estate from the east only or, alternatively, speed-calming measures in Brampton Road and Cromwell Road.
There are also proposals for a modal filter in Chapel Street like those in place around the west of Cambridge on Storey’s Way and Nightingale Avenue.
At Mitcham’s Corner, the plans include reducing the number of lanes for cars and adding more space for cycles as well as “physical segregation with temporary water-filled barriers”.
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