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Making the Greenways green

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A view from a riverside path, showing narrow boats moored on the opposite side of the river, beside trees and green parkland

The Federation of Cambridge Residents Associations (FeCRA) organised a  highly-successful seminar for an invited audience involved in the Greenways project to discuss and debate the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s cycling scheme.

A Greenway will be an attractive route segregated from traffic or on quiet roads. The aim is to increase levels of cycling and walking, to reduce congestion as the city grows and to improve the health of the population. Parts of each route exist already, but some may need significant improvement or have missing links.

The seminar, held on 21 November, was introduced by Wendy Blythe, Chair of FeCRA.

The keynote speakers were Tom Turner, a leading landscape architect and passionate cyclist, and Simon Manville, the lead GCP officer that is currently carrying-out a series of public engagement events leading up to public consultations on the 12 routes.

Panellists were Cllr Francis Burkitt (South Cambridge District Council, and Chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership); Cllr Lewis Herbert (Leader, Cambridge City Council, and Vice-Chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership); Matt Danish (CamCycle); and John Preston (former Cambridge City Council Historic Environment & Conservation Manager).

The seminar was facilitated by Steve Jones (Bourn parish councillor and Convenor of the Coalition of Parish Councils).

There were about 50 participants, including officers from both councils, councillors from city and parish councils, representatives from residents associations and a wide range of community groups, including walking, cycling, equestrian, conservation, heritage and open space and environmental groups.

Wendy Blythe said: "Greenways are a great opportunity to develop cycling infrastructure which will support the modal shift in transport  people want to see – so it’s important for everyone that we get it right because the opportunities for Greenways to offer other benefits in terms of green infrastructure, place making and eco systems are huge.

"This seminar was an opportunity to get together some of the people who are most involved before any decisions are made. We know that people have different views and priorities, but it was a chance to explore issues together informally, not to come up with any solutions yet, or to discuss in detail, but just to hear from people. 

"In his thought provoking lecture Tom Turner said the Greenways project could open the pearly gates to to an English cycling heaven, making it a world leader in cycling infrastructure and urban design.

Cllr Francis Burkitt added: "This was a very useful and informative seminar, and the Partnership is grateful to FeCRA for organising it and inviting Tom Turner and the audience. 

"There’s been a widespread public endorsement of the Greenways project, so much so that residents are now coming forward with suggestions for additional routes to add as a “Greenways Two” project. 

"But first we’ve got to get the initial 12 routes underway, and to work hard with residents and local communities to understand what they want from the routes.  

"We’re very sensitive to views on the surfaces, width, segregation, lighting etc, and to the wide-spread comment that it’s important to maintain the rural feel of the countryside through which they run. 

"In particular, it was interesting to hear so many members of the audience mention that well-designed Greenways routes could be a good way of bringing aspects of the countryside into the city.”

You can watch a video of the Greenways seminar on the FeCRA Youtube channel.

You can find out more about the 12 Greenways projects - which will provide attractive walking, cycling and equestrian routes segregated from traffic that will connect Cambridge to surrounding villages - on the Greenways page of the GCP website.