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 eight weeks on rapid, pilot upgrades to get more people walking and cycling.
The funding has been awarded by the 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 a need to boost alternative modes of travel to the private car, to avoid heavy congestion on the roads, poorer air quality and a 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 have submitted plans on behalf of partners to boost walking and cycling across their patches, which include grassroots actions proposed by each area. The plans will outline measures for delivery within the next eight 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 £2.9 million funding from the 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 lockdown that people have a safe mode of travel and a viable alternative to the private car.”
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.