New Road Classification for Cambridge consultation

Response to the Greater Cambridge Partnership consultation on a new road classification for Cambridge (closing at noon on Monday 18 July):

The South Petersfield Residents Association (SoPRA) would like to contribute the following observations and suggestions to the consultation on the New Road Classification for Cambridge. In particular, we would like Tenison Road and other residential streets in South Petersfield to be classified explicitly as Neighbourhood streets, along with detail on what interventions are proposed to block through-traffic.

Place v Movement

  • The Local Transport Plan §2.25 to 2.27 sets out a two-dimensional place and movement assessment framework, intended to guide how different transport modes are prioritised.
  • The New Road Classification is a one-dimensional framework, which does not adequately address how streets should be treated when they serve both place and movement functions.
  • There appears to be no practical difference between a Primary and Secondary Distributor road.
  • There appears to be no practical difference between an Area and Local Access Street.
  • The term ‘Neighbourhood Streets’ is defined but never used in the consultation. It is therefore unclear what it applies to. Does it apply to all unclassified streets?
  • One of the most crucial paragraphs in the consultation brochure is this:

Point road closures – known as modal filters, such as in Carlyle Road and Silver Street – would be put in place on local roads and streets to stop through movements by private motor vehicles. Cyclists and, if on a scheduled route, buses would be allowed through the closure points to make these trips as reliable and convenient as possible.

  • Yet, nowhere in the consultation is any indication given of where these modal filters would be located. Without that information, it is impossible to assess what the road classifications means except in abstract terms.
  • The following apparent major implications of the proposals should have been made explicit and explained:
    • Every Area Access, Local Access, and Neighbourhood street will have a modal filter (Table 2: “Do not allow movements between distributor roads other than by public transport, cycling and walking”).
    • All through traffic, including delivery vehicles, will have to drive out to the outer ring road to move around the south-east quadrant of the city (Plan 2).
    • Exclusion of Regent St, Emmanuel St, Hobson St and Park Tce from ‘potential bus routes’ (Plan 3).
    • Closure of Drummer St bus station (as both Emmanuel St and Parker St, between Drummer St and Emmanuel St are shown on Plan 2 as Civic Streets).
    • Re-routing of cars leaving the Grand Arcade car park via Tennis Court Rd (Plan 2).
    • Reversal of one-way restriction on Tennis Court Road (as Fitzwilliam St is not shown as a Local Access Street on Plan 2).
  • We strongly recommend GCP to pursue a more nuanced approach to road classification that starts with the road user hierarchy set out in the Local Transport Plan and takes into account:
    • Place function – residential, retail, commercial, leisure or mixed
    • Peak flows of pedestrians
    • Peak flows of cycles
    • Whether it carries (or should carry) a scheduled bus service (as opposed to a demand-response or Dial-a-Ride type service that may use mini- or midi-sized buses)
    • Air quality
    • Whether stock deliveries can be made via streets behind or to the side of the shop

Station Rd, Great Northern Rd

  • Station Rd, Tenison Road and Great Northern Rd are the only roads by which vehicles can access the city’s main railway station. At the very least, that makes them de facto Local Access Streets.
  • Station Rd is an arterial route for buses, which must qualify it as a distributor road?
  • Station Rd carries a very large volume of pedestrians on pavements that are too narrow.
  • Great Northern Rd is a residential street, heavily congested and polluted at peak times, and should not be the sole access route for station traffic. This requires a long-term plan for access to the station, including a new access from Rustat Road.
  • Designating Hills Road as an access road should allow the slow, multi-stage pedestrian crossing at the junction with Station Rd to be simplified.

Tenison Rd, Devonshire Rd

  • As currently proposed, it would appear that all streets in South Petersfield, with the exception of Mill Rd, are Neighbourhood Streets, and will therefore be blocked to through-traffic. If this is indeed what is proposed, SoPRA welcomes it.
  • Tenison Rd, Devonshire Rd and St Barnabas Rd (all residential streets) distribute motor traffic to and from the railway station. Tenison Rd, in particular, carries a large volume of motor traffic between East Road and the railway station, and between East Rd and Hills Rd. This route is effectively a ‘rat run’ to avoid congestion and traffic lights on Hills Rd and Gonville Place.
  • Devonshire Road carries a significant volume of traffic (although less post-COVID) between north-east Cambridge and the station.
  • Tenison Rd and Devonshire Rd carry large volumes of people walking and cycling.

Mill Road

  • Mill Road is a destination for many people to visit the large number of shops, cafés, restaurants, take-aways, pubs, hairdressers and other amenities. Other destinations along or just off Mill Road include two care homes, clinics and surgeries, a cemetery, churches, mosques and a post office.
  • Mill Road should therefore be classified as a civic street. There are many towns and cities where a street like Mill Road would be pedestrianised, to create more space for people to walk, cycle and sit out in safety and comfort.
  • However, Mill Road also has an important function as a bus route, so any access restrictions need to be selective.
  • The outcome of the Mill Road consultation exercise needs to feed into the New Road Classification exercise.


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