Updated Cambourne to Cambridge and Babraham public transport routes unveiled - and have cheered cyclists
Proposed final routes for busways connecting Cambridge to Cambourne in the west and Babraham and Granta Park in the south east have been unveiled.
The two busways will provide off-road routes for an as-yet unconfirmed “electric vehicle” which will join the usual road network on either end of both routes.
Cycle campaigners are buoyed by the decision not to use Adams Road at the end of the Cambourne-Cambridge busway, and switch to a route via land known as the Rifle Range.
The technology will differ from the current busway system, and look and function more like a normal road.
Both include plans for an additional Park & Ride, one just north of the A428 near Hardwick and the other east of Babraham.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) says both routes will be compliant with the Combined Authority’s plans for an autonomous metro (CAM).
Two further projects to connect Waterbeach and the east via Newmarket Road are in development and will be the subject of public engagement later this year, the GCP said.
The step forward on Cambourne to Cambridge follows an extraordinary public row between the GCP, which put forward the plans, and the mayor of the Combined Authority James Palmer, who announced in February that he would take “direct responsibility” for the route.
At the time he also took a swipe at the GCP, saying: “It has become clear to me that GCP lack the vision, strategic thinking and the ability necessary to deliver any of the transport priorities for the Cambridge area”.
However, the project appears to be progressing under the GCP’s control.
The GCP was due to decide Cambourne to Cambridge plans earlier in the year when the mayor stepped in. The GCP said it paused to take into account a new sub-strategy covering CAM Metro schemes, and that it has made changes to the scheme to make them more compliant with the mayor’s metro plans.
A spokesperson said today: “As the GCP have not consulted the mayor on their plans, he is not in a position to comment further.”
Asked about his comments in February that the Combined Authority would take “direct responsibility for delivery of additional public transport solutions for the Cambridge to Cambourne corridor,” a spokesperson for the mayor said: “The additional bus services proposed by the transport and infrastructure committee [in March] are those solutions. Furthermore, the Local Transport Plan Sub-strategy for the CAM will ensure that all projects contributing to its delivery, including the route between St Neots, Cambourne and Cambridge are in full accordance with that strategy.”
The mayor and others had objected to the off-road Cambourne to Cambridge route ending at the start of Adams Road in Cambridge, with residents and others arguing it would have a detrimental impact on cyclists and others who use that road.
The plans for both routes are outlined in papers published on Tuesday (May 26) and will go before the GCP joint assembly on June 4 and its executive board on June 25.
Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, chairman of the GCP’s executive board, said: “The GCP was set up to deliver the government’s City Deal investment to tackle current and future transport issues and support committed growth set out in the Cambridge Local Plan.
“That commitment is brought into even sharper focus by the impacts of Covid-19 and a shared determination to support the economy to get back on its feet. It’s on this basis that the GCP Executive Board considers it necessary and appropriate to make progress.”
GCP transport director Peter Blake said: “GCP’s plans are continually reviewed to ensure compliance with local strategies and have been designed to be adaptable to developing CAM proposals. Officers are committed to close working with the CPCA and with East West Rail to ensure alignment with the emerging Bedford to Cambridge route and Cambourne station location.”
He added: “Assessment of Adams Road and Rifle Range alternatives has always shown benefits and drawbacks for both routes. A key benefit of a continuing off-road route is higher journey time reliability and fewer delays when not sharing road space with general traffic.
“Segregated walking, cycling and horse riding provision along the new route will create a continuous link to the city from villages and towns to the west and create additional capacity for growing numbers of cyclists accessing university sites.”
Dan Strauss, a resident of Adams Road, and campaigner for the Save Your Cycle Route group, said: “We’d like to thank all those who have listened to the concerns of cyclists and pedestrians on this key cycle route.
“We are looking forward to working with the GCP to develop Adams Road into a world-class cycling/pedestrian street and we’ve already drawn up ideas, with the help of a leading cycle infrastructure designer, which we hope to discuss with them.
“The Save Your Cycle Route campaign, which gathered over 3,300 signatures, has shone a light on to just how important Adams Road is for cycling in Cambridge and highlights that more must be done to make it safe for the thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who use it every day and who will be joined by many more thousands as the West Cambridge site develops.
“We are grateful to all those who signed our petition, wrote letters, campaigned in person on the street and to those who listened to our objections.”
Roxanne De Beaux, of Camcycle, told the Cambridge Independent: “Camcycle welcomes the decision to avoid sending a busway along Adams Road, one of the city’s busiest cycle routes. We thank our members, supporters and the strong campaign from residents which convinced the GCP to revise their plans, and we strongly support new proposals to review the current situation on Adams Road. Suggested improvements to reinforce its role as a ‘healthy street’ that promotes an active lifestyle would support the increased levels of cycle traffic predicted along this corridor in future.”
The Labour MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner, who previously joined angry cyclists protesting against using Adams Road for a “huge number of buses”, said: “Of course we need to tackle congestion which was crippling Cambridge before the lockdown and designated road space for buses is a part of that – but so too are the needs of cyclists. I am delighted at this change of direction. I always thought there was another solution that allows buses in and does not adversely affect cyclists. Adams Road is a popular route in and out of the city and we want to develop that to encourage even more people to use their bikes.”
On the change to the Adams Road section of Cambourne to Cambridge the GCP said: “To ensure full compliance with the CPCA’s draft sub-strategy requirement for the CAM and its component schemes to be dedicated, segregated routes, and in light of local stakeholder concerns regarding cycling safety, the route put forward in the C2C outline business case will no longer propose Adams Road to access the city but will return to the previously proposed Rifle Range alignment.”
The combined cost of the two busways is £292.8million. Of the £160.5million estimated cost for the Cambourne to Cambridge route, £37.7million is anticipated to be funded by Section 106 contributions from third parties such as the developers of the Bourn Airfield site and West Cambridge.
CAMBOURNE TO CAMBRIDGE ROUTE
The GCP says the Cambourne and Cambridge route will run between the town and the city, with a Park & Ride planned equidistant between the two.
The proposed off-road route starts in Bourn Airfield, runs roughly parallel to St Neots Road A428, and then at the Madingley Mulch roundabout runs parallel to the A1303, but further south, passing north of Coton, 40 to 50 metres from the closest houses in the village, before cutting through Coton Orchard and crossing the M11 on a new bridge passing into the west Cambridge campus. The entrance to the road network in the city comes via a small access road immediately north of the Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club pitches on Grange Road.
The proposed Scotland Farm park and ride will be just north of St Neots Road, north of Hardwick, and is estimated to hold 2,000 cars.
SOUTH EAST ROUTE
The proposed south east route will run from Addenbrooke’s to a Park & Ride travel hub to be built at Babraham. The GCP’s papers say the route will start near the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and run parallel with the railway, before diverting to the east of Great Shelford and Stapleford and then crossing the River Granta and running to the east of Sawston.
The proposed park and ride is located to the south west of the junction between the A1307 and A11, between the A11 and Babraham.
The “travel hub” near Babraham could hold up to 2,800 cars “with the current known constraints” as well as offering bike parking and other amenities.
The estimated total cost of the scheme is £132.3million.
Read more analysis and reaction in this week’s Cambridge Independent, out from Wednesday May 27