Opinion: ‘Peterborough needs more provision for cyclists on the city’s roads’

As the COP26 conference on climate change takes place, Peterborough Cycle Forum has written an open letter to the city council raising concerns about cycle lanes in parts of the city...

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 2:45 pm
The Crescent Bridge Cycle Lane before it was removed. The city's Cycle Forum wants to see more and safer provision for cyclists on city roads.

Dear councillors and school leaders, you may have noticed that part of Oundle Road has been resurfaced and the cycle lanes have not been reinstated.

The Cycle Forum has been involved in discussions about this work and we are pleased that the lanes were not put back.

This is a recognition that they were substandard.

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It would also have been inappropriate because council policy is to upgrade facilities to modern standards and would have been financially very risky, given that government told local authorities in July 2020 that if any of their highway schemes do not comply with the modern standards government money may have to be refunded.

The Forum want to encourage cycling and know that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks, but the changed standards are an acknowledgment that substandard widths are hazardous and were putting those confident enough to cycle at risk. (Cyclists should not be squeezed at the side of the road).

Whilst the lane width was an issue for existing cyclists we know that many people prefer fully segregated routes.

The opportunity to walk and cycle in confidence should be everybody’s right, but we have to acknowledge that Oundle Road is intimidating for many to cycle along.

Our children, our neighbours, our friends, anyone who is attracted to the idea of cycling to improve their health and reduce the environmental impact of too much traffic, should be able to cycle conveniently in a continuous, coherent route along the whole corridor in safety and comfort.

This means that cyclists have to be segregated from pedestrians and motorised traffic, in the space that each of them need or if cyclists are to be expected to mix with motor traffic, traffic volumes and speeds should be reduced to appropriate levels where children and others can share the road in confidence.

(This is what the current standards expect; they are aimed at everyone, with all sorts of cycles and from eight to 80 years old).

The long term solution is obvious and with commitment the council could access the major government funding that has been announced - the whole of Oundle Road has to be transformed.

The Forum is very worried however that the council appears to be developing a plan for a section of Oundle Road without addressing the whole corridor.

Any works must fit into a vision for the whole corridor, because it is only through the delivery of continuous, high quality facilities that cycling numbers will really take off, as has been seen in many other cities.

The uncomfortable truth is that a route along Oundle Road will have to involve restrictions on motor traffic, because space is limited, but there is little point doing relatively easy sections of isolated route, without a commitment to deliver the difficult sections where space is tight.

Peterborough has an amazing Parkway network; it can afford to give up a bit of roadspace for local people and to boost our precious local environments.

COP26 is a timely reminder that there should be no delays, so we urge you to encourage the council to bring forward rapidly a long term high quality solution for Oundle Road, over its whole length from Town Bridge to Lynch Wood.

Peterborough Cycle Forum