Programme Summary

The City Access programme is central to the GCP’s Sustainable Travel Programme, using City Deal funding to tackle current and future transport problems by offering more sustainable ways to make journeys by public transport, cycling and walking.

The Challenge

Greater Cambridge is growing, putting more pressure on what is already a very congested road network. The City Access project aims to reduce congestion and improve public transport in order to offer people better journeys, as well as reducing air pollution and carbon emissions from transport.

Cambridge’s historic city streets are popular destinations with limited capacity, and more jobs are being created at employment sites across the area. Without action Greater Cambridge’s already congested roads will become increasingly crowded, unpleasant and inaccessible as planned local growth increases demand on the network.

The City Access Programme

Making Connections

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A new road classification for Cambridge

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Parking issues in Cambridge: Spring 2022

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Greater Cambridge Citizens' Assembly

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Greater Cambridge Partnership Citizens' Assembly - One Year On workshop

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Queen Anne Terrace Cycle Parking Consultation

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Cycling Plus

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Choices for Better Journeys

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Our Big Conversation

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The Vision

The City Access project is promoting ways to improve access by sustainable transport to the city centre and key employment sites, and to reduce congestion by encouraging commuters away from cars. Supporting local partners’ net zero carbon ambitions and the Government’s net zero by 2050 target, the project also seeks to improve air quality as well as create a more people-focused, city-centre environment.

During 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic significantly impacted on all aspects of our lives, including our economy, the way we work and how we travel. In June 2020, the GCP prioritised a package of short-term ‘quick wins’ with a focus on supporting the economy to get back on its feet, including measures to reduce traffic and create more space and facilities for cycling and waking.

Experimental traffic management measures

A series of experimental schemes implemented in August 2020 restricted traffic in various streets identified as having potential for reducing traffic and encouraging walking and cycling in the long term. You can read more about the measures and public consultation, here .

Encouraging cycling and walking

Other ‘quick win’ schemes aim to encourage cycling and walking. This includes looking at additional cycle parking at workplaces and in the city centre, as well as expanding access to ebikes and ecargo bikes.

The GCP has provided match funding for an ecargo bike scheme to provide bikes for businesses and residents to try out. A scheme is being developed to provide match funding to install secure facilities such as lockers and lockable/controlled access parking at workplaces and on business parks and campuses.

Expanding bus services

The pandemic has had a huge impact on bus services. The GCP had previously agreed to look at expanding bus services, and will now look at this in the context of supporting a sustainable recovery from Covid-19.

City Centre Delivery Consolidation Pilot

In response to concerns about the longer-term impact of high levels of goods vehicles making deliveries in and around the city centre and the detrimental impact on air quality and the environment for walking and cycling, a deliveries consolidation pilot is being developed. The pilot would involve goods being delivered to a consolidation centre on the edge of the city and secondary facility in the city centre for onward delivery by electric bike or other electric vehicle and assess the basis on which it could operate commercially in the longer term, either independent of or in partnership with local authorities. Work is ongoing to develop proposals working with business leaders including the Cambridge BID, Cambridge Ahead, and also the University of Cambridge.

Integrated Parking Strategy

Parking controls and park and ride/travel hub facilities are a key tool in reducing congestion and encouraging the uptake of sustainable transport options. Both city centre car parks and park&ride sites have seen reduced use during the pandemic. Data will continue to be used to inform an integrated parking strategy, working together with the City and County Councils, for review by the Joint Assembly and Executive Board in 2021.

Reducing air pollution and carbon emissions

Data monitored through the pandemic period suggests that air pollution from transport remains an issue and is likely to do so in future. The GCP has already provided around £400,000 in partnership with Stagecoach, to pilot the first electric buses into service in Greater Cambridge. The GCP has committed to expand the electric bus pilot to trial new charging options and hybrid vehicles with geofencing to operate in zero emission mode through certain areas.

Taking longer-term action

Greater Cambridge was experiencing severe congestion prior to COVID restrictions and whilst traffic levels and public transport use has fallen during the pandemic, car trips have recovered faster than other modes of transport. Going forward, the City Access strategy will continue to reflect the shifting economic and transport context resulting from Covid-19, but it’s clear that as communities continue to recover and grow in line with the area’s Local Plan, sustainable transport options will continue to be vital to access work, study and other opportunities the city has to offer – whether using public transport, cycling or walking.

Through its Sustainable Travel Programme the GCP is already delivering multiple projects across the Greater Cambridge area to create a world-class Future Network for public transport and walking and cycling and step up public transport services.

The City Access project has also developed a future bus network concept, showing how the bus network could be improved to offer more people an alternative to travelling by car. The City Deal could help fund the set-up of this network, but an ongoing source of revenue will be needed to operate it in the longer term.

Long Term Measures

To allow that future public transport system to operate, we need to take action to actively reduce traffic and improve air quality in the city centre and around key employment hubs. Informed by a series of public engagement exercises and supported by the recommendations of a Greater Cambridge Assembly, the City Access project has been considering measures that would reduce demand for car travel. A refined package of longer term measures to improve public transport and reduce congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions is expected to be presented for consideration by the GCP Executive Board in 2021.

City Access Public engagement

Public engagement has been fundamental to understanding Greater Cambridge’s transport challenges, travel behaviour and attitudes and continues to shape the project going forward.

Most of the respondents to the GCP’s Big Conversation engagement in late 2017 felt that traffic was a problem and that some form of public transport or cycling improvement could solve their transport problems.

In early 2019, the Choices for Better Journeys public engagement asked for feedback on proposals for a future public transport network and ways to reduce congestion.

· 81% of respondents chose a traffic-reducing measure as their first choice for both funding public transport and reducing congestion.

· 44% of respondents chose pollution charge as their first or second choice option for funding public transport and cutting congestion, followed by a flexible charge to drive at the busiest times

The Greater Cambridge Partnership Citizen’s Assembly

53 local residents and commuters met in the autumn of 2019. Their task was to discuss traffic jams, air quality and public transport. They then made recommendations to the Greater Cambridge Partnership. The most popular option was closing roads.

The participants also recommended making people pay to use roads, for example clean air zones, a pollution charge and payment at peak times.

We held this Citizens’ Assembly as part of the Government’s Innovation in Democracy Programme. Two independent organisations set up and ran the Assembly. They selected the participants at random.

You can view the Assembly’s main recommendations on the Involve website.

Published 04 Aug 2021

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