Active Travel – why doing nothing is so easy

photo of bicycles

There are a number of active travel consultations running; including two proposals for Histon & Impington. These proposals aren’t perfect but they’re all we’ve got.  It’s this or nothing.

Councillors are elected and winning elections requires people to be happy with the changes made when you are in office.  I know not everyone supports active travel schemes.  It would be the easiest thing in the world for me to talk about how much I believe in green issues, watch the public consultations and comments on social media, see negative feedback and then report back that although I really support active travel these schemes just aren’t right for our community but I don’t believe that that is the right thing to do. 

The rationale behind these schemes is to create places where active travel becomes the norm which is good for the environment and physical and mental health, calmer spaces where it’s nice to live, spaces that are easier for the disabled people and elderly to negotiate.

There are lots of ways in which you can pull apart the detail of the proposed schemes.  Yes, some people will drive further if Station Road becomes a no through road, most seriously in 2021 when the government can find £27 billion to invest in new road building and the technology exists to avoid this do I think we should be consulting on an active travel scheme which might come at the cost of a bus stop?  No this is appalling, but that is what we are offered. The government is trying to decarbonise transport on a shoe string and we are offered this or nothing.

Recently a decision was made about Cambridge’s Mill Road scheme because one Labour Councillor sided with Conservative Councillors, voting against all other Labour, Independent and Liberal Democrat County Councillors, to re-open the bridge to through traffic pending a final decision on the scheme in 6 months. The reason given for this was that it was claimed that the current closure was negatively impacting disabled and elderly people.

My mum was an ‘elderly driver’ who also had very low mobility.  When she was in a car making a detour was easy, far more important to her were emptier streets where she could move at her own pace.  I also think she would have been happy taking a detour in a car because she recognised that we have to make changes to the way we live for the sake of the planet and her grandchildren’s future.   We must decarbonise transport and doing that will not always be popular but we must build back better.

Here are the consultations

The Active Travel Consultation runs until Tuesday 24 August and includes the no through road proposal for Station Road near the war memorial to encourage walking and cycling locally. This proposal would lead to the loss of a bus stop. If you feel strongly about this please complete the consultation. I spoke with the bus officer from the combined authority who didn’t have any great solutions but did confirm that this scheme was one of the two worst in terms of disruption to bus services. It is worth pushing for a ‘bus gate’ here.

The Cycling Plus: Investing in Greater Cambridge’s Active Travel Network survey runs until midday on 16 August. This considers an Impington to Milton route.

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