Council leader hits out at report finding Peterborough the ‘hardest place to live without a car’

Traffic congestion on Bourges Boulevard and Queensgate roundabout EMN-140616-174012009
Traffic congestion on Bourges Boulevard and Queensgate roundabout EMN-140616-174012009

Peterborough is the most difficult city to get around in without a car new research has revealed.

The city ranked 29th and last in a survey to find the city most reliant on cars in England.

The research, from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) found that ‘weaknesses in the public transport system’ pushed Peterborough to the bottom of the table.

But, despite the criticism, Peterborough City Council leader cllr Marco Cereste said he did not agree with the findings.

He said: “We do the best we can. We have the fastest commuting times in the whole of the UK. How many people can not get about in the city?

“We have put money into sustainable travel. If the bus routes were economically viable the commercial operators would run them.

“We have the best cycle paths in the country, we spend small fortunes on cycle lanes and cycle paths,

“I find it very difficult to reconcile that with what the survey says.

“But, the council is in a tough spot at the moment. We have had £44 million removed from our budget. We still put money into sustainable transport, but if we spend money there, we have to cut it from elsewhere.”

The report said: “Peterborough scores poorly almost right across the board.

“For access to primary schools by walking and public transport, the city scores in the top ten, and many people already cycle regularly, showing there is scope for improvement and a will for active travel.

“But a lack of use of public transport and heavy reliance on cars to get around shows that people do not have the options they might need to get around more sustainably.”

Each city was ranked according to accessibility and planning; buses and trains quality and uptake; cycling and walking as alternatives and driving and car use.

London was ranked first in the list, with county rivals Cambridge in sixth place.

Nigel Brigham, regional director for Sustrans, which promotes sustainable travel, including walking, cycling and using public transport, said: “As someone who lives in Peterborough and who walks and cycles every day, it doesn’t feel like Peterborough should be bottom of the list.

“I think the problem is that we have an excellent system of roads with the parkways. To get more people cycling, walking, or using buses, there has to be an advantage for people to choose those options over cars, and at the moment there isn’t. It is something that is done on the continent very well.

“When the old Development Corporation designed the city, I think they wanted roads like Oundle Road, Eastfield Road and Lincoln Road to be quiet, residential roads for easy walking and cycling - but there is a lot of work to do for that to happen now.”

Mark Speed from Peterborough City Council said: “Our local bus routes are thriving, with an additional 400,000 journeys taken last year.

“Peterborough was built at a time when the car was seen as the most-desirable mode of transport.”

- See the 2014 Car Dependency Scorecard report from www.bettertransport.org.uk as a PDF.

Cyclist Emma Goldberg says:

“I was surprised to see Peterborough’s ranking in sustainable transport. As a cyclist, I love the ease with which I can get around the city - and out of it. There are lots of great cycle routes entirely off the roads and some on busier roads too. And there are usually plenty of cycle racks as well.

“It’s not all roses though, there are some frustrations. I think we could share more spaces with pedestrians - like Bridge Street. I’m sure if one side was shared cycle/pedestrian, with priority to pedestrians, cyclists would be happy to cycle slowly and respect this, rather than take long detours, walk - or, most likely, cycle as fast as they can so as not to get caught!

“Mostly I think car drivers are good at accommodating cyclists - but I have had some scares, and a helmet is a must for me - as well as my reflective fluorescent gloves, which really help me be seen when I’m signalling to turn. We have to help cars help us.”

Motorist Maria Thompson says:

“It’s not just about getting to the city but you need a car to get round, because it’s so spread out.

“Apart from the city centre area there are few places you would walk to from the centre, so I’m not surprised to hear it’s the hardest city to live in without a vehicle.

“I would use a bike more, but having had two stolen in less than a month it doesn’t really appeal to me any more.”

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