Peterborough Cycle Forum welcomes suspension of combined authority funding and calls for tougher scrutiny

Peterborough’s Cycle Forum has welcomed the decision of the Department for Transport (DfT) to suspend funding to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and called for more scrutiny of the body’s plans.

Friday, 6th August 2021, 4:55 am
Cresent Bridge where the cycle lane has been removed.

On Friday (July 30), the DfT announced the allocations for the latest round of grants from the Capability Fund, with none given to the city’s combined authority until they received further reassurances as to the authority’s commitment to active travel.

The ending of the temporary cycle lane on Crescent Bridge looks to have played a large part in the decision and had enraged Peterborough’s Cycle Forum.

The group has also criticised the authority and Peterborough City Council for ignoring the recommendation of its own working group to close the cycle lane and instead use the second tranche of active travel funding to create a fully kerb-segregated cycle lane connecting Longthorpe to the Thorpe Wood Business Park and South Bretton.

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Members of the forum claim that the new lane will be part of an upgrade of the A1260/A47 Soke Parkway junction, which is being funded by the combined authority; a claim the council has disputed.

The cycle forum has now written a letter to the DfT to praise its decision to withhold the funding and encourage them to provide scrutiny to the area’s travel plans, which they say is not happening locally.

The letter said: “The Peterborough Cycle Forum welcomed your decision on Friday to pause active travel funding to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

“Your announcement said that you need further assurances before funding is confirmed and we thank you for providing this scrutiny, which is not being provided locally.

“The Peterborough Cycle Forum stands by our letter on July 16. The Crescent Bridge scheme should have been made permanent and the last minute decision to move the Active Travel Fund funding to the Junction 15 (A1260 Nene Parkway/ A47 Soke Parkway) scheme is an unacceptable use of the Active Travel Fund.

“The Junction (A1260 Nene Parkway/ A47 Soke Parkway) scheme:

“- This is a major road building capacity scheme. Funding for cycling provision shouldn’t need to come from the Active Travel Fund, it should be part of the major scheme.

“- Peterborough City Council were one of the first Local Authorities to adopt LTN1/20 as policy but this scheme is not LTN1/20 compliant throughout, in particular the footbridge.

“- The proposed cycling interventions will improve a short section, which will sit in glorious isolation with no LTN1/20 complaint connections at either end.

“- This route is not in Peterborough’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIP) and is not a priority. Forum members made this clear to council officers back in February

“- It is not in an area of deprivation or with poor health outcomes.

“- Due to these points, there are doubts that this scheme will convert short car trips to cycling and the number of people to benefit will be low, compared to the original Crescent Bridge and Thorpe Road scheme.

“- There is no challenging of the status quo with this scheme, all it will do is increase car dependency.

“We urge you to review the council’s original plan for the Active Travel Fund- the Crescent Bridge and Thorpe Road scheme (which was selected by the council’s Cycle Champion and cross-party working group to proceed).

“To repeat the good words of the Secretary of State:

Schemes need time to be allowed to bed in, must be tested against more normal traffic conditions and must be in place long enough for their benefits and disbenefits to be properly evaluated and understood.

“We have no interest in requiring councils to keep schemes which are proven not to work but that proof must be presented.

“This has not happened in Peterborough.”