Cambridge is a ‘Cycle City’: this is only logical. In 2014 around 32% of commuters within Cambridge travel to work by bicycle (Source: Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire 2014). That’s better than most places in the UK, although still lags behind cities such Amsterdam where around 60% of trips in the city centre are made by bicycle (Amsterdamize 2011. Bicycle Cultures Are Man-Made. 21 Nov 2011). With appropriate forms of development, there would seem no reason why Cambridge could not also attain these levels, and create an even more sustainable City for the future. With more cyclists, the population could be healthier – although more cyclists without appropriate infrastructure for cycling will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of accidents; we need to take into account the important safety issues.
Despite the relatively high level of cycle usage in Cambridge, infrastructure remains poor compared to many European cities. Cyclists compete with buses, lorries & cars on narrow, congested roads. Pedestrians and cyclists are forced to share inadequate spaces, and many cyclists are daunted by the risks. Their fears are not unfounded, as around 60% of traffic accidents in Cambridge involve cyclists. This is a huge unnecessary cost to our health system – not to mention to the individuals involved.
Substantial improvements to Cambridge cycle access and safety are definitely needed.
A Cambridge Light Rail network would make a significant contribution towards addressing these needs by:
- attracting people out of vehicles and onto the public transit system, thereby reducing the number of vehicles competing with cyclists;
- placing major transport infrastructure underground, freeing up more space for a cycle- and pedestrian-friendly environment above ground;
- reducing the number of buses in the City centre and on arterial routes, which pose safety risks for cyclists. In the historic City core, where there are many cyclists, ‘Fewer Buses’ is ‘Better Buses‘!
Cycle access to the Cambridge Light Rail network
Cambridge Connect has calculated the accessibility of Cambridge Light Rail stops by cycle. With the configuration of stops proposed in all Options combined:
- ~32% of the City would lie within a 2.5 min cycle ride of a stop;
- ~72% of the City would lie within a 5 min cycle ride of a stop; and
- ~91% of the City would lie within a 7.5 min cycle ride of a stop.
This level of accessibility of a Cambridge Light Rail network has potential to radically alter people’s decisions about how they travel within the city. With a network of accessible stops, many people are more likely to walk or cycle to the public transport network. Take a look at our Greenprint for a Sustainable City.
By integrating the proposed Cambridge Light Rail network with improved cycle infrastructure provision, Cambridge can create a much more Sustainable City than otherwise is possible. This approach would encourage more people to cycle or walk, because the Light Rail network provides people with practical options to cycle or walk to local stops, from where people can make longer journeys to destinations of choice on the network – journeys that they would not contemplate making by cycle at all, and would otherwise make by car. With less vehicle traffic on the roads, even more people will be encouraged to cycle. This is good for the health of the population, and good for reducing the carbon footprint of the City.
This philosophy underpins our Greenprint for a Sustainable City.
We anticipate that good infrastructure supporting cyclists would be designed into the Light Rail network, including at Park & Bike sites on the periphery. For example, well-designed access routes would be beneficial, as would suitable facilities to park bikes safely and securely at all stops on the network.
In addition, Light Rail Vehicles can accommodate bicycles, as demonstrated in Edinburgh. After a successful two-month trial, Edinburgh became the first light rail network in the UK to allow carriage of cycles, with up to two being allowed per tram outside of peak hours (P. Gourtsoyannis 2015. Edinburgh trams to be first in UK to allow bikes. Edinburgh Evening News ). System design could ensure that this convenience is available in Cambridge as well, and perhaps with appropriate design features even more cycles per tram could be possible. Buses cannot offer that option.
There have been calls for Park & Bike sites to be dualled with Park & Rides, and Cambridge Connect supports this idea. With most Park & Ride sites connected to the Cambridge Light Rail system proposed, cyclists would have the option to ride to Park & Bike sites and jump on Light Rail from there.
Cambridge is potentially ideal for cycling, although it needs more investment in segregated cycle lanes, secure bike park facilities, and fewer buses, lorries, vans and cars.
Cambridge Connect supports the excellent work being done by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign on improving infrastructure for cyclists in Cambridge, and interested readers should get in touch with them for more information about cycle-related developments in the region.