Our ambitions for easy and affordable journeys in the Cambridge area

Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance is a growing movement of local and national organisations who believe that the time has come to transform transport in Cambridgeshire. Our mission is to unite and inspire people working for a local transport network that protects our future and offers us genuine choice over how we travel. Together we encourage local decision makers to take action for better sustainable journeys. Transport shapes our region’s environment, its economy and the lives of those who live, work and spend time here. A successful transport network will enhance the vibrancy and liveability of the Cambridge area, and take the city forward as a thriving place of opportunity and inclusion, with resilience for the future. Find out about the 31 organisations who support us at cambstravelalliance.org. Here we set out our ambitions for journeys in the Cambridge area.

Our ambitions for journeys in the Cambridge area1

  1. Walking, wheeling, cycling, and taking the bus or the train should always be easy and affordable, making them the ‘go-to’ options for the majority of journeys.
  1. The transport network should be comprehensive, simple to use and affordable, so everyone can access education, employment, healthcare and leisure opportunities. Children and young people in particular should be able to travel confidently, cheaply and independently; older people should be able to get out and about easily, frequently and without worry. 
  1. The transport network should also be accessible, so everyone can use sustainable, healthy, low-cost and non-polluting forms of transport regardless of prior experience, income, disability, ethnicity, gender, age or any other status, to and from any part of the city and its surrounding area. 
  1. New developments should be designed around sustainable transport networks, making walking, wheeling, cycling, bus and rail the natural first choice. 
  1. A renewed focus on sustainable journeys will enhance Cambridge’s reputation as a thriving, lively, popular place to live, work, do business and visit. Consequently it will become enticing to travel into the city or get out and about as a resident. 
  1. Destination streets – attractive places for people to shop, meet up and spend time –  should be created across the region. There should also be calm, green spaces in which to relax or exercise. These must be easy to reach by sustainable transport.  
  1. The city should be made fit for the future and adaptable to growth, with clean air and climate-resilient streets that nurture a healthy, green and connected way of life. 

More people are making sustainable journeys

Figure 1: Jobs (000s) in the Greater Cambridge area supported by travel to work by car2

Though employment has grown in Cambridgeshire, car use has not increased at expected level (see above); there has been a shift towards journeys by other means. Local projects to support sustainable transport have had a measurable impact. In St Ives, on the Cambridge Guided Busway, 35% of commuters travel by bus, compared to 5-8% elsewhere. Around half of those surveyed about the Chisholm Trail (Phase 1) who were aware it was a new active travel route reported they had been encouraged to walk or cycle more often overall as a result of its construction. 

What do we campaign for?

  1. More choice over how to make a journey 

We believe that more people will make sustainable journeys if walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport are genuine options. 

Nearly eight out of ten of UK drivers say they would use public transport more if it were better. 90% of women fear cycling in cities in the UK. Greater Cambridge residents want to drive less and use sustainable transport more, however 44% frequently use a car because other options aren’t available

  1. A transport network that moves more people more efficiently

Public transport, walking, wheeling, cycling and (properly regulated) e-scooters are space-efficient forms of transport. Larger numbers of people will be able to move into and around Cambridge at busy times of day if these modes are prioritised. Streets should be organised to give precedence to the needs of people walking, wheeling, cycling and taking the bus. The wider transport network must also allow easy connections to rail stations; opportunities to expand the rail network or develop a light rail network should be explored. 

A full double-decker bus can take around 75 cars off the road. A 3.5m carriageway can move over four times as many people by foot or cycle as it can by car. Eleven places in the UK and Ireland have light rail systems that move large numbers of people effectively and efficiently. 

  1. Better buses under under local control 

Bus travel will become a realistic option for more people with more routes, more frequent services, longer operating hours and buses running reliably to timetable. This should be a priority in the short- to medium-term. A franchised bus network would give the CPCA Mayor’s transport team control over routes, timetables and fares. Profits could also be reinvested into the network to improve services further for passengers. 

Bus use in Cambridgeshire is below the national average3. Bus operator Whippet reports 6% year-on-year growth on their Universal service and 32% on West Cambridgeshire routes, however, attributable to new (or newer) buses, route adaptations and improved marketing and information along with improved operational performance and punctuality (personal communication4).    

  1. Excellent environments for walking, wheeling and cycling 

Greater provision of integrated networks of quiet, safe, pleasant routes free from fast-moving motorised traffic would further boost the numbers choosing to travel by these means. This is especially important on key routes to schools and colleges. Planners should anticipate and meet future local demand for trips by walking, wheeling and cycling.  

Half of those surveyed recently in Greater Cambridge would like to walk and cycle more than they do currently and around a third would like to use their car less. When asked what would help them to walk or wheel more, around 7 in 10 mentioned wider pavements, more and better crossings and nicer resting places. When asked what would help them to cycle more, around 8 in 10 said more traffic‑free cycle routes, segregated cycleways and routes along quieter streets. London’s investment in cycling infrastructure has seen a growth in cycling of 155% since 2000.  

  1. A seamless user experience for sustainable modes of transport 

Sustainable journeys often involve travel by more than mode of transport (someone might walk or wheel to a station, travel by train, then cycle to the final destination, for example). Sustainable transport networks therefore require careful integration so that people can use different modes seamlessly. A holistic approach is required, with integration of both physical infrastructure (e.g. seating, cycle parking, bus stops and car sharing bays) and services (e.g. shared use transport, integrated ticketing and aligned timetables). Designs that tie these different elements together effectively will greatly increase the accessibility of sustainable transport networks.

The careful design of Driebergen-Zeist train station (The Netherlands) makes multi-modal journeys by sustainable transport easy and inviting.  

  1. Places for people across the city 

Shopping areas that are highly welcoming for people walking and wheeling and easy for large numbers of people to reach by sustainable transport will prosper. More could be done across the Cambridge area to create attractive places for people to shop, meet up and spend time across the region that are highly accessible by sustainable transport. There should be places for people in each neighbourhood, not just in the historic core. 

Cambridge Ahead’s Young Advisory Committee has a powerful vision of Cambridge as a City of Quarters – a polycentric mosaic of interconnected districts, each with its own shops, facilities, green spaces and ‘bumping spaces’ (‘where people from all communities can enjoy themselves and interact’). 

  1. A kerbside strategy and action on improper kerbside use

Pavements are for walkers and wheelers and should not be cluttered or damaged by motor vehicles. We support expanded use of the space at the side of the road near the kerb to promote sustainable journeys and create nicer environments. EV charging infrastructure should be on the kerbside rather than the pavement, for example, and kerbside space could be used for cycle lanes, seating and cycle storage. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs), planting areas and seating could also be created on the kerbside for climate-resilience. Kerbside use should also be more strongly enforced to improve safety and reduce obstructions. 

Oslo’s actions to reduce on-street parking have received broad support. 

  1. Help to get people started with sustainable travel

More people might try sustainable journeys if there were free or low-cost schemes such as taster bus and train tickets, walking, wheeling and cycling support groups, e-bike introduction programmes, cycle training, low cost cycle hire, discounts on cycle purchase and support for businesses.

Four-in-five participants in the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme cycle every week, compared to two-in-five beforehand. Though cycling is cheaper than driving, only two in five people on low incomes have access to a cycle, compared to nearly three in 5 in professional occupations. The Bikes for Business project in London Bridge enabled 150 businesses to switch to using cargo bikes. Over 65% of participants in Cambridgeshire’s try-before-you-buy cargo bike scheme decided to purchase a cargo bike after the trial period

  1. More funds for sustainable transport 

The region needs long-term, reliable sources of funding for sustainable transport modes that are locally-controlled. With these in place, there can be large-scale and long-lasting improvements to journeys and places. Policies that could generate funds include road charging, an increased mayoral precept, a workplace parking levy and business contributions.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region has received just £5.75 per head for bus services – amongst the lowest in the country. Nottingham’s Workplace Parking Levy has raised £90 million in 10 years for sustainable transport. 

  1. Affordability and accessibility at the heart of every change

The transport network should give all users the same opportunity to travel sustainably with freedom and independence. We would like to see local authorities and businesses actively engage with different user groups fully involved in discussions about future transport networks and solutions designed with the needs of younger and older people in mind. 
More young people responded to the Making Connections Consultation than had done to any previous GCP survey, however they were still underrepresented.

  1. Transport within, into and out of the city, as well as connections to its surrounding area (e.g major centres of employment) ↩︎
  2. (Greater Cambridge Partnership (2019), Technical Assessment of the impact of measures proposed as an alternative to fiscal options to address future congestion in Cambridge, quoted from GCP Executive Board Meeting Agenda Pack 28.09.23) ↩︎
  3. 25.5 journeys per head, compared to 34 per head on average in England outside London. Brighton and Hove achieves 140 passenger journeys per head. ↩︎
  4.  Patronage levels on the Universal service had already met and exceeded pre-Covid levels, so the 6% growth is on an already high benchmark. ↩︎