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Cambridge road closures could be made permanent following trials

Decisions on making permanent five schemes brought in to support more cycling, walking and active travel during the Covid-19 pandemic will be considered this month.

Panton Street and Pemberton Terrace junction with the 'Covid planter traffic restrictions' . Picture: Keith Heppell. (50896333)
Panton Street and Pemberton Terrace junction with the 'Covid planter traffic restrictions' . Picture: Keith Heppell. (50896333)

A sixth scheme, in Luard Road, Cambridge, will be scrapped after it was found to displace traffic onto already congested Hills Road and Long Road despite it gaining a high level of public support.

A report assessing the six Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) schemes, which were introduced last year, will be considered by the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s joint assembly on September 9.

It recommends that five of the six schemes should be made permanent, with the Luard Road scheme discontinued until a joint GCP and Cambridgeshire County Council road network hierarchy review has been completed.

The schemes, introduced in August 2020 by the GCP working with the county council, along with Luard Road, were in Carlyle Road, Nightingale Avenue, Silver Street, and Storey’s Way.

A second phase of measures in the Newtown area of the city was introduced in January this year.

The schemes involved closing the streets to through-motorised traffic and reducing traffic on Silver Street by extending the existing bus gate operating hours.

The report says: “For each of the experimental schemes the overall response has been positive, suggesting a level of support for making the measures permanent.

“As might be expected, when analysed by transport mode, those walking and cycling were more positive about the experiments than those using motorised transport.”

The report also recommends additional measures to further reduce traffic in the Newtown and Carlyle Road area as well as work on designing more suitable, permanent closure point layouts.

In the Newtown area, it is recommended to “explore changes to parking arrangements in Trumpington Road to provide more opportunities for drop off and pick up for schools”.

The report to the joint assembly follows two periods of public consultation, with 1,248 replies to the first consultation covering all of the schemes and 316 replies to the second consultation on the Newtown area.

The scheme that achieved the highest support in the consultation was Silver Street, with 62 per cent, then Luard Road with 61 per cent and 58 per cent for Nightingale Avenue.

The scheme that received the least support and the most opposition – 49 per cent for both – was the Newtown phase two scheme.

If agreed by the GCP executive board, the proposals would then be put to the county council’s highways and transport committee for consideration.

The report, however, states that it is “not possible to draw any reliable quantitative conclusions on the traffic impacts of the experimental schemes”.

It says: “Traffic levels during the trial period have been lower than normal and have fluctuated throughout the pandemic as lockdown measures have been introduced and relaxed, making it difficult to disaggregate the effects of the pandemic on traffic levels from those resulting from the experimental closure. This is also the case with air quality.”

The report adds that if approved: “The current street layouts are only intended as experimental and permanent arrangements need to be put in place. Further engagement by the GCP, in collaboration with county council officers, would be undertaken with local councillors, residents and other key stakeholders to inform the design of new physical layouts at each site, although no further work is required for the Silver Street bus gate.”

Panton Street and Pemberton Terrace junction with the 'Covid planter traffic restrictions' . Picture: Keith Heppell. (50896327)
Panton Street and Pemberton Terrace junction with the 'Covid planter traffic restrictions' . Picture: Keith Heppell. (50896327)

ETROs can operate for up to a maximum of 18 months. During the first six months, there is an opportunity to lodge formal objections to making an experiment order permanent.

By the end of the 18-month period a permanent order needs to be made or the experiment automatically lapses with the road then reverting to its former state.

The GCP executive board is due to take a decision at its meeting on September 30.

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