A group promoting cycling in East Cambridgeshire is furious about Cambridgeshire County Council’s decision to axe plans for an underpass from its southern bypass construction.
Ely Cycling Campaign yesterday called the decision to drop the promised underpass “short-sighted”, accusing Cambridgeshire County Council of showing “little commitment to sustainable transport in rural areas” and neglecting cyclists outside Cambridge.
Last week, the council’s environment and education committee voted not to proceed with the underpass, saying it was likely to cost over £1 million more than the projected £30,000.
On its blog, Ely Cycling Campaign said that while £1 million may sound like a lot of money, it makes up less than three per cent of the bypass cost.
The underpass, which was meant to be built near the allotments on Stuntney Causeway, is the “best solution for all road users”, ECC says.
“It provides a safe way for pedestrians, cyclists, mobility scooter users etc to cross the new bypass without affecting the traffic flow.”
The southern bypass will connect the A142 at Angel Drove to Stuntney Causeway, including bridges over the railway line and the River Great Ouse and its floodplains in a bid to ease congestion along the traffic jam hot spot.
Unless the alternative “safe crossing” proposed by the council includes traffic lights, it is “not a safe crossing and will leave those who live in Stuntney and beyond cut off from Ely”, the group says, adding that the council is neglecting its own promises to provide sustainable transport and encourage cycling.
In its Local Transport Plan, Cambridgeshire County Council says: “…we will continue to push forward in making sustainable modes of transport more attractive by continuing to develop sustainable networks for walking and cycling…”
The Plan also commits to improving “the environment and safety for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users” and says it will work with local planning authorities to “ensure provision for sustainable modes that form an integral part of new developments”.
While Cambridge, which has major infrastructure in place for cyclists, has one of the highest cycling rates nationwide, many people are scared to take up cycling in East Cambridgeshire, ECC says.
“The county council has spent lots of time and resources asking what puts people off cycling and the answer is always the same, lack of safe routes.”
The blog says: “We have been repeatedly promised by county council officers that the new southern bypass would include an underpass so that Stuntney and beyond are not cut off from Ely by it.
“This is a problem that the villages around Ely all suffer from and so ensuring it was avoided with the new bypass seemed like progress and forward thinking.
“Unfortunately it seems that was all hot air and when it comes down to it the county council’s commitment to cycling in rural areas is pretty non-existent.”
ECC is calling on the council to clarify what kind of “safe crossing” is going to be provided instead of the underpass.
They also know if “promised improvements” around Ely Station are still going ahead and “how many other schemes we’ve been told are on the cards will be shelved in a similar manner?”
The blog post ends” “The county council really needs to demonstrate that its commitment to cycling and other forms of sustainable transport extends beyond routes in and around Cambridge.”