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Restrictions on vehicles in Cambridge win support despite impact

Unanimous support for restrictions on private motor vehicles in Luard Road to remain in place has been given by the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s joint assembly.

Peter Blake, GCP Transport Director. Picture: Keith Heppell
Peter Blake, GCP Transport Director. Picture: Keith Heppell

Members have recommended to the GCP executive board, which meets next week, that the modal filter be retained, with continued monitoring of traffic levels on Long Road and traffic signal mitigation put in place.

Luard Road was one of six schemes introduced to support more cycling, walking and active travel during the pandemic.

Officers had recommended that all but Luard Road should be made permanent following consultations.

Luard Road, which gained one of the highest levels of public support, was recommended to be scrapped after it was found to displace traffic onto the already congested Hills Road and Long Road.

The GCP’s joint assembly meeting on Thursday, September 9 heard representations from a group of 20 households, along with cycling charity Camcycle, calling for the filter to remain.

Anna Williams, of Camcycle, said: “The report shows that all schemes were successful, with routes rebalancing transport in favour of walking and cycling. Over 80 per cent of those travelling in Carlyle Road, Silver Street and Luard Road are doing so actively, and daily levels of cycling in Carlyle Road are approaching those on popular routes such as the Riverside bridge.

“Camcycle would like to see all these schemes retained and improved. It is completely unacceptable that Luard Road has been recommended for removal when it has achieved its aims.”

Panton Street and Pemberton Terrace junction with the 'Covid planter traffic restrictions' . Picture: Keith Heppell. (51492895)
Panton Street and Pemberton Terrace junction with the 'Covid planter traffic restrictions' . Picture: Keith Heppell. (51492895)

Peter Blake, director of transport at the GCP, told the meeting that journey time data showed an “increased eastbound delay” on Long Road as a result of the Luard Road filter.

Mr Blake said: “It is correct that journey times have changed and fluctuated during the pandemic, but there has been a demonstrable increase, and as traffic volumes come back, it is likely that that increase will continue.”

Cllr Alex Beckett, Liberal Democrat city councillor for Queen Edith’s, added: “It just seems like madness to reinstate a rat run.”

The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) schemes, introduced in August 2020 by the GCP working with Cambridgeshire County Council, were installed in Luard Road, 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 motorised through-traffic. In Silver Street, traffic was reduced by extending the existing bus gate operating hours.

The report to the assembly said it is “not possible to draw any reliable quantitative conclusions on the traffic impacts of the experimental schemes” and added: “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.”

But Mr Blake told the assembly that a final decision on whether the schemes become permanent would be made by the county council’s highways and transport committee, who would take into consideration the comments made by the GCP joint assembly and executive board.

He said: “If GCP were to undertake improvements with the county council to traffic signals on Long Road, including at Addenbrooke’s, that would manage and mitigate the disbenefits that appear on the eastbound approach.

“Now that is not strictly within accordance of the ETRO processes we set up, so the executive board would have to agree to undertake to do that.”

Labour’s Cllr Rosy Moore, the executive city councillor for climate change, environment and city centre, said: “I absolutely understand that this has improved things on Luard Road but I wonder if there’s more of an impact, other than increased traffic jams on Long Road.”

Cllr Rosy Moore (51492943)
Cllr Rosy Moore (51492943)

She pointed to the heavy use of the narrow pavements by students travelling to school and college.

Mr Blake added: “Inevitably, if you move traffic from one road to another, the other road has impact beyond just queues, so stationary vehicles on Long Road will be throwing out nasties through their exhaust pipes and other parts of the vehicles that will not be good. Clearly, it will be a less attractive environment to cyclists. So that’s the issue and the concern about the general displacement.”

The joint assembly agreed to support making all of the schemes permanent, but added that further works should be done to mitigate the impact of the Luard Road closure on Long Road.

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 report to the joint assembly follows two periods of consultation, with 1,248 replies to the first covering all of the schemes and 316 replies to the second 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 then 58 per cent for Nightingale Avenue.

The GCP board will make the final recommendation to the county council on September 30.

Read more:

Would £1 bus fares or free travel for young people ease the Greater Cambridge transport challenge?

Cambridge road charging ‘needed to tackle deadly pollution curse and congestion’

Major effort to cut car use in Cambridge expected by GCP after mayor casts doubt on building tunnels

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