Walking bus of Cambridgeshire residents urge people to support plans for a Sustainable Travel Zone

Group of campaigners with banners on Parker's Piece

Hundreds of residents from across Cambridgeshire gathered in Cambridge on Saturday 10 December to attend a ‘walking bus’ event organised by the Cambridge Parents for the Sustainable Travel Zone group and supported by Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance. Those present have united behind proposals for a Sustainable Travel Zone in Cambridge and are urging local people to take part in the current Greater Cambridge Partnership consultation on the plans, which closes at midday on 23 December. The proposals include a £50 million upfront investment in buses, with improvements to walking and cycling routes, followed by a daily road charge within Cambridge once sustainable alternatives to driving were in place. The online survey can be accessed at tinyurl.com/STZ-survey.

Walking Bus departs from Parker's Piece led by a big 'Yes to Better Buses' banner

Despite freezing weather, residents of all ages joined the walking bus from Parker’s Piece to Christ’s Pieces near the bus station, bearing banners with messages such as ‘Yes to Better Buses’, ‘Let’s Get Cambridge Moving’, ‘Birdsong not Car Fumes’, ‘For Lungs Sake’ and ‘All I want for Christmas is the STZ’. Participants included doctors, teachers, small business owners, children, councillors, parents and grandparents, with representatives from groups including Cambridge Living Streets, Camcycle, Cambridge Area Bus Users, the A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign, Transition Cambridge, Cambridge Carbon Footprint, Carbon Neutral Cambridge and Clean Air Cambridge.

Banners at the event

Those gathered aimed to show the region’s decision-makers that there is support for the proposals to radically improve public transport provision and active travel infrastructure in Cambridgeshire. These changes are urgently needed to contribute to our region’s commitments on climate change and address issues including air pollution, congestion and transport poverty. Elisabeth Whitebread from Cambridge Parents for the Sustainable Travel Zone, Iris Bostanci from the A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign and Dr Katherine Sharrocks from Addenbrooke’s Hospital all spoke to the crowds.

Speakers Elisabeth, Iris and Katherine
Image: Jeremy Peters

Elisabeth Whitebread said:

“We’re here, because we think this is really important. We think it’s really important because of climate change, we think it’s really important because of air pollution, we think it’s really important because of equity. We think it’s really important that Cambridge, which is an amazing city, has a transport system that’s fit for the 21st century. We encourage everyone to fill in the consultation: we need as many people as possible to say yes to better buses.”

Iris, who is 11 years old and lives in Meldreth, said:

“I’ve been campaigning for safer cycle paths since the age of five. Sustainable travel is so important to me because I want to have the option of travelling safely without buying a car and without burning fossil fuels. I’m passionate about the environment, on which all of our futures depend. If Cambridge had a sustainable bus system not only would it improve the air we breathe it would also give Cambridge another environmentally-friendly form of transport. We need to make it happen!”

Dr Katherine Sharrocks said:

“As a doctor, we see the impact of Cambridge’s congestion crisis every day, both in increased cases of respiratory problems and in the number of patients late or unable to make appointments. It’s vital we tackle this issue, for our health and that of our children. That’s why I was so pleased to speak at this event, to thank everyone for speaking up and to encourage as many people as possible to fill in the consultation.”

Cambridge Parents for the Sustainable Travel Zone, the group behind the walking bus event, is a member organisation of the Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance which now represents 24 different groups which support proposals for a Sustainable Travel Zone in Cambridge. These include local groups such as Ely Cycling Campaign, Hunts Walking and Cycling Group, St Ives Eco Action and Cam Vale Bus User Group and national organisations including Cycling UK, Sustrans, the Campaign for Better Transport and Railfuture.

The Alliance urges people to respond to the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s consultation on a Sustainable Travel Zone before 23 December. Find a short consultation guide and quick links to the online survey at tinyurl.com/STZ-now

Image: Jeremy Peters