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Car-free streets need to accommodate business need

Sponsored feature | By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID

Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID
Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID

A new transport consultation launched this week - yes, another one- and it could see many city centre streets become car free and threaten vital access to businesses at a time of post-Covid recovery.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) project could result in a number of streets being even more restricted to vehicles than they are currently. Vehicles could be all but banned from Hobson Street, King Street, Green Street, Trinity Street, Park Terrace, Emmanuel Street, St Andrews Street, Sidney Street, Regent Street, New Square, Market Hill, Corn Exchange Street, Wheeler Street, Bene’t Street and Trumpington Street out as far as the former Royal Cambridge Hotel.

If vehicles are not banned, they are likely to be severely restricted since proposals delayed during Covid suggested restrictions between 10am and 6pm in this area. Many businesses, especially smaller independent ones, do not open until 10am or later and, with the current staff shortages in the city, many close before 6pm. This could mean no vehicle access at all while these shops are open.

The proposals suggest city-centre deliveries will need to be consolidated, buses rerouted, and more electric bikes used. Cambridge BID has lobbied all the local authorities for many years about bringing forward a last-mile delivery solution but little or no action has thus far been taken on this.

If this was to be an option, then it would need to be available well before changes to access were implemented and be free to businesses who will be paying off the burden of Covid for many years.

Businesses will embrace a city with cleaner air, less traffic and with more walking and cycling, but access needs to be maintained for deliveries and collections for online sales that ensures the vitality of our city retail, bar, restaurant and shopping offer. I was in Norwich recently and they have cobbled, pedestrian-priority streets with delivery vehicle access.

The consultation document ends with links to other non-GCP transport schemes. This just shows the piecemeal approach we have here to this vital topic. I would encourage all to take part in the consultation, but again we need a transport system that works for those who live and do business here.

Read more from Ian Sandison and Cambridge BID

Yet another transport consultation

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