17:11 Thursday 29th January 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
CHRIS MANN: The Transport Minister Robert Goodwill was in Cambridge today to mark the start of construction of a 3,000 space indoor cycle park. It’s being built on the CB1 development, just outside the main train station. Our reporter Emma Howgego was there, and she joins me now in the studio. Emma hello to you.
EMMA HOWGEGO: Hello Chris.
CHRIS MANN: So tell us a bit about this cycle park.
EMMA HOWGEGO: Well it’s being built just outside the entrance to the main train station, as part of the big CB1 development. As you say, it will be indoors, and according to Abellio Greater Anglia who run the station, it will be almost like a multi-storey car park but exclusively for bikes. It’s actually modelled on some similar schemes in Holland of course, where Abellio have their headquarters. And it will have 3,000 spaces, double the number that are there at the moment.
CHRIS MANN: Just remind us of what the CB1 development actually is.
EMMA HOWGEGO: Well it’s a big building project to completely redesign the front of Cambridge train station, which planners say should make it a lot easier for all traffic trying to get to the station. It includes a hotel, office space and shops. Brookgate who are looking after the development say the main square will be as big as the current Market Square in the centre of Cambridge. They expect that part of the development to be finished by the end of next year. And the cycle park should be finished in time for Christmas this year. Now as you said, the Transport Minister Robert Goodwill was here to mark the start of construction. I managed to grab a few words with him, and I started by asking him how important the scheme is.
ROBERT GOODWILL: Well I think cycling is central to our strategy for transport, because the more people can get on their bikes, the less congestion there is. And of course it’s good for people’s health as well. And Cambridge is actually leading the country in terms of cycling. I know you get a lot of students here, but also the people living in Cambridge are getting on their bikes, and providing the biggest cycle parking facility in the country at the station, I think that will be a fantastic resource. And it will really encourage more people to use their bikes and be able to get on the train knowing that their cycles are parked safely and securely.
EMMA HOWGEGO: It’s all very well having safe cycle parking, but if there isn’t the cycling infrastructure to go with it to get people to the train station, not everybody will be using their bikes.
ROBERT GOODWILL: Exactly. Cambridge are spending £10 per head per year, which is the target for the rest of the country. Cambridge is one of our Cycling Ambition cities, and therefore Cambridge is leading the way where others will follow. When you go to countries like Holland, they’ve got much better provision, but they started thirty years ago. So it’s a cumulative thing. But we’re committed to investing in better cycling provision, making it safer, and certainly by having provisions like this parking here at the station, making it more convenient for people to use rail and cycle to complete their journey.
EMMA HOWGEGO: How do you fit cycling infrastructure in, but at the same time provide enough infrastructure for buses, for taxis, and for people who do need to drive in the city centre?
ROBERT GOODWILL: Well there’s always conflict for road space, but we are doing quite a few innovative things in terms of the way we provide cycle tracks, and some of the signage and traffic lights as well, which we’re changing the rules to make that more cycle-friendly. But actually in many cases people just have that fear. They think cycling is actually dangerous. But actually the figures don’t bear that out. Cycling is actually far better for you if you put the health benefits in as well. So there’s no reason at all not to get on your bike. And certainly when this facility is finished here, no reason at all not to use your bike as part of your journey including rail.
EMMA HOWGEGO: We also had the meeting of the City Deal here in Cambridge yesterday discussing how they’re going to spend some of that money that the Government awarded them last year on different infrastructures. They’re talking about things like bus priority lanes, about more off-road cycle routes and things like that. Are those the types of initiatives you hope to see in Cambridge, or perhaps something a bit more innovative?
ROBERT GOODWILL: Well actually it’s down to local people to decide their priorities. The central tenet of the way that we’re allocating money is to allow cities to make decisions, to allow the Local Enterprise Partnerships to make decisions, because they know here, on the ground, what they need to do. We can’t second guess in Westminster. So it is very important that the localism agenda follows the money down to the grass roots level. So the councils, the local businesses, and others involved in transport, the rail companies as well, can actually spend the money where it’s most needed. And we are actually putting money into infrastructure investment, both on the rail and of course on the Highways Agency network, which we announced in December the biggest programme of £15.2 billion to improve the travelling facilities in this country.
EMMA HOWGEGO: One of those of course is the A14 here in Cambridgeshire. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s going to be a big election issue for many of the campaigners in our constituencies. At the moment the A14 has been on and off the table over the last few years. It’s back on the table at the moment. In the event of the Conservatives winning the next election, will it remain a priority?
ROBERT GOODWILL: Well the A14 Huntingdon by-pass is announced. It’s a £1.5 billion project, the biggest project actually in the country. And of course we scrapped the plans for tolling it. So it will be a free route, and I think that sends a very clear message out to the travelling public that the war on the motorist is well and truly over. We’re not going to start charging you to use roads that you’ve paid for already through your fuel tax and your vehicle excise duty. So the A14 will go ahead. It’s a £1.5 billion project, and it will very much ease congestion around Huntingdon. And I know to my cost having been a lorry driver in the past just how difficult it can be on that particular section. So that will be long overdue, and I’m very pleased it is going ahead as part of our long-term economic plan to invest in infrastructure.
CHRIS MANN: That’s the Transport Minister Robert Goodwill today, talking to our reporter Emma Howgego as he oversaw the start of the construction of the 3,000 space indoor cycle park.