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Combined Authority approves £2.9 million for quickfire upgrades to cycle paths and pedestrian highways

9 June 2020

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The Combined Authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has approved the spend of £2.9 million to improve cycle and pedestrian facilities across the region, of which £575,000 is to be spent over the next 8 weeks on rapid, pilot upgrades to get more people walking and cycling.

The funding has been awarded by central government after Mayor James Palmer wrote to the Department of Transport in May to propose a package of active travel measures aimed at encouraging more people to make journeys by bike or by foot.

While social distancing guidelines remain in place to help stop the spread of Covid-19, fewer people will opt to make journeys by public transport.  But as the economy begins to reopen, there is an urgent need to boost alternative modes of travel to the private car, to avoid heavy congestion on the roads, poorer air quality and an unwelcome rise in carbon emissions.

This funding will deliver measures to reallocate road space to allow for safe cycling and walking, and for social distancing as the economy and society transitions out of lockdown.  

The Combined Authority is working closely with Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, Peterborough City Council, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire, South Cambridgeshire district councils and the Greater Cambridge Partnership to deliver these improvements. 

The Highway Authorities for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will submit plans on behalf of partners to boost walking and cycling across their patches today, which include grassroots actions proposed by each area. The plans will outline measures for delivery within the next 8 weeks, ensuring that walking and cycling is more accessible for all. 

Proposed improvements include:

  • New cycle lanes, including on significant roads such as Crescent Bridge in Peterborough and Newmarket Road in Cambridge and Forehill in Ely
  • An area-wide “school streets” offer to encourage walking and cycling to all 342 schools in the area
  • Removing on-street car parking and railings to allow for more cycle lanes
  • Installation of cycle parking in city and district centres
  • Widening pavements to allow for social distancing, for example in Mill Road, Cambridge
  • Additional cycle parking at the Park & Ride sites
  • Removal of bays to widen footpaths on Broadway and Cattle Market Road in Peterborough

Mayor James Palmer said:

“I am delighted to have secured this crucial £2.9million funding from government to continue the rapid upgrades to our cycle lanes and walkways. 

“Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the region has responded quickly with essential improvements meaning more people can walk and cycle to make journeys than ever before. 

“Since social distancing measures were put in place, carbon emissions have dropped 17% and air quality has soared.  However, as of 27th May, traffic flows across the Combined Authority area had already recovered to nearly two-thirds of pre-lockdown levels  It is critical as we head out of lock down that people have a safe mode of travel and a viable alternative to the private car.” 

Cllr Ian Bates, chairman of the Highways and Transport Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said:

“Our transport team has been carefully considering this for some time and we’ve been working closely with partners to identify temporary changes we can make quickly to help people walk and cycle over the coming months.

“We know from looking at other countries that walking and cycling is key in getting our county moving again during COVID-19. We’re making the changes as quickly as we can due to the difficult times we’re in and to help people wherever possible.  We’ve already made temporary changes to Girton Road, Milton High Street and Chesterton Road.”

Councillor Peter Hiller, cabinet member for Strategic Planning, Commercial Strategy and Investment at Peterborough City Council, said: 

“Following on from the council’s first ever Climate Action Day earlier this year, our transport team has been working extensively to think of improvements that we can make to our city that would encourage walking and cycling to be the default method of transport for short distances.  

"We've listened to ideas put forward to us by residents, businesses and organisations such as

cycle forum and are building on this work to help us to navigate the next stage of our Covid-19 response, which will help the city to adjust to the new normal, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.” 

Progress will be monitored by the Transport Restart Group, a sub-group of the Covid-19 Recovery Group for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which is chaired by the Combined Authority.  The group brings together the Transport and Highways Authorities with public transport operators, police, public health officers and others.

The full funding amount will be £2,875,000 with the first tranche of funding (£575,000 or 25% of the total) to be awarded now and the remaining 75%, (£2,300,000) to be dispersed in the summer. 

Cambridgeshire will receive 72.81% of the funding while Peterborough will receive 27.19%, in line with census data on the number of people who travel to work using public transport.