Big changes to local roads proposed

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is the joint organisation set up by the three councils in the area (with university and business representation) to manage the ‘City Deal’ budget to improve transport, jobs and housing. It has had a faltering record on different projects, but its ‘City Access’ scheme has been in development for a while now. As part of this, it is proposing a reclassification of the roads in the city.

There are different types of road classification, but how they are classified matters. It determines the types of vehicle that are encouraged to use them, whether they’re designed as a through route, and more.

The current road classifications in Cambridge were last reviewed around forty years ago. In Queen Edith’s, two roads are classified as “A” roads. These are the A1134 (the city ring road) which takes in Long Road, a short stretch of Queen Edith’s Way, Mowbray Road and Perne Road; and the A1307 (Hills Road and Babraham Road). Fendon Road is also classified as an “A” road.

The GCP has come up with six road classifications, and made a recommendation of how these could be applied across the city.

At the fundamental level are ‘neighbourhood streets’, which account for the majority of the smaller streets in every neighbourhood. The GCP proposes allowing access to motor vehicles but discouraging through movements on these streets.

Outside of the city centre, the next level up are ‘area access streets’ and ‘local access streets’, which give access to larger and smaller areas of the city. The GCP proposes these would not usually be subject to any access restrictions, but should not be used to move between ‘distributor roads’ (see below). Generally they would have a 20mph speed limit and limited parking.

At the top level are ‘primary distributor roads’ and ‘secondary distributor roads’. These are the main roads for traffic moving to, from and around the city. Car parking would be restricted to lay-by or off-road spaces, and generally they would have a 30mph speed limit (but 20 mph where the road layout warrants it).

The GCP has come up with a plan of how these classifications could be applied. It is suggesting that the existing ring road (and Fendon Road) would be a ‘primary distributor road’, in line with its existing A-road status. The same would apply to Hills Road south of the Long Road junction, and Babraham Road. However, it is proposing that Hills Road north of the Long Road junction, right into the city, is classified only as an ‘area access street’, a substantial de-prioritisation. The city half of Cherry Hinton Road would also be classified at this level, as would Queen Edith’s Way.

The Cherry Hinton half of Cherry Hinton Road, meanwhile, would be a busier ‘secondary distributor road’, as part of what looks like an attempt to encourage the eastern access to the city to be split between Newmarket Road and a Newmarket Road – Barnwell Road – Perne Road – Cherry Hinton Road route.

Similarly, it looks to me like the scheme aims to encourage the southern access to the city to be split between Trumpington Road and a Trumpington Road – Long Road – Hills Road – Babraham Road route.

Here are how the GCP says the proposed classifications could be applied:

In summary, under the proposals, some Queen Edith’s roads will remain as main roads into and around the city, but others will be downgraded in importance, which could result in less traffic. In addition, 20mph speed limits are likely to be introduced to some of the roads currently at 30mph, and we might expect to see more barriers of some sort put up to prevent ‘neighbourhood streets’ being used for anything other than access.

A speed limit is pointless, of course, if it’s not enforced, and stricter enforcement is something which I think most of us can get behind. At the moment, the police seem to have other priorities, and the government has no solution to the rapid rise in cloned number plates.

So, what happens now? The GCP wants to hear what the public (that’s us) thinks of its ideas.

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4 Replies to “Big changes to local roads proposed”

  1. This initiative is Cambridge’s version of the Ghent ‘circulation plan’, and as such is most welcome. Planning how movements will work on a whole-city basis is much better than considering roads in isolation (as Mill Rd largely was). The Ghent plan (installed in 2017) has been a huge success, despite much hand-wringing beforehand. The primary political driver (Filip Watteeuw) has given quite a few talks about how it was done, which are frankly inspiring, and one important point made was to collect as much info/feedback beforehand so that the best possible job of catering for everyone is done, and avoid being surprised by things that were not known about. Another was to make the initial changes simply and cheaply so it could all be done in one weekend. Tarting things up once they are found to work, can be done later. Watch the talk given last month to Camcycle here.

    Cambridge’s geography is tricky because we don’t really have a continuous ring road in the same way as Ghent, Leuven, or Brussels, but then neither does Utrecht and they have been a leader in this sort of development too.
    The bottom line is that we have to reduce all vehicle mileage across the CPCA by 15% whilst population/jobs/housing grow by a similar amount, to have any chance of meeting our emissions requirements, and that needs significant changes, not minor fiddling. This plan has the potential to make the sort of difference needed for Cambridge if our politicians can have the vision to design it right and get it done, despite the inevitable moaning and predictions of doom from some quarters. Filip tells of how amazed he was at the popularity of the changes, after all the negativity beforehand.

  2. Cherry Hinton Road is a residential road just like Queen Edith Road is. They should have the same classification (ie. Area access – purple- for the whole length) . Where does the discrimination come from between the two halves of the road?? Is it the presence of the petrol station?

  3. How does the budget for maintenance of an ‘area access street’ compare with the current budget, which is dismally inadequate?

  4. The proposed initiative is to make the already busy and congested Fendon road even busier and more congested. Absolutely nothing, NOTHING has been done on improving safety on Fendon road after the tragic accident where a young person lost her life while cycling to her workplace at the Addenbrooke’s hospital. How many people need to be hurt before safety on this road is improved? How can any initiative consider that an important artery to the main regional hospital will benefit from being “upgraded” to a “distribution road”. Proposing 30 mph limit on this road and other roads converging at the Addenbrooke’s roundabout as a good solution for Cambridge traffic problems is an insult to all users and residents of this road, including bicyclists, pedestrians, hospital patients, residents, and any carrying Cambridge citizen. How is this new plan going to help Fendon Road road achieve “The Vision Zero, committed to preventing all road deaths across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough”? This GCP initiative of roads reclassification is a sure way to make the living hell for users and residents of roads around Addenbrooke’s site, and is a sure way to increase congestion and create deadlocks. Good luck to anybody in an ambulance whose life depends on getting quickly to Addenbrooke’s hospital. So much for the declarations that “The Cambridge City Council has a clear vision to lead a united city, ‘One Cambridge – Fair for All’”. this new GCP proposal is certainly not fair at all to the residents and users of Fendon Road (and other proposed “Distribution roads”). This proposal is Zero Vision.

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