Government Money For Cambridge Cycling Safety

cambridge_bikes17:21 Thursday 4th April 2013
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: A cycling MP has reacted with joy at the news that the city he represents is to receive £1.2 million of funding to improve safety for cyclists, and happily that city is one of our own. It’s Cambridge. And the MP is the LibDem Julian Huppert, who joins us on the line now. Hello Julian.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Hi. How are you?
CHRIS MANN: Very well thank you. Very well. And we’ve heard in the last hour that you are Parliamentarian of the Month, so congratulations.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Well thank you. Yes, this is a thing which Brake, the national road safety charity run. They pick somebody every month. I think it’s the second time I’ve been honoured with this, and it’s a great pleasure, but there’s still a lot more to do.
CHRIS MANN: So, money coming for cycling, but at a time when we’re told that we have to tighten our belts, can we really afford £1.2 million for cycling?
JULIAN HUPPERT: I think the real question is whether we can afford not to spend £1.2 million to improve some of the most dangerous junctions and routes that we have. This is part of a national package that the LibDem Transport Minister Norman Baker is putting out. It’s £40 million altogether, including local authority contributions, across the country, to improve the worst blackspots where you have the most accidents and the most deaths. I think we can’t afford not to do it. And I’m delighted that we’ve got so much of the money here in Cambridge, for schemes which hopefully will make a big difference to people’s lives.
CHRIS MANN: I know you’ve been filming this afternoon with our colleagues at BBC Look East at a junction in Cambridge. Tell us where that was, and what you were doing there.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Well yes, that was the junction of Perne Road and Radegund Road, which is a rather awkward roundabout on a very busy cycle route as people access the station. That’s one of the sites in Cambridge that will get improvements. There’s also some funding for the Catholic Church junction, which will provide some benefit for cyclists, I think not as much as some of us would have liked. It’s possible the County Council will now be able to look again and see if they can tweak it and make it even better. And the route out to Histon going up the A14, which anybody who tries to cycle that will know just how dangerous that can be.
CHRIS MANN: Is this just about cycling, or about road safety in general.
JULIAN HUPPERT: It’s about all of road safety. Better designed junctions are generally safer for everybody, so we want to make cycling safer, but also to encourage those people who don’t cycle because they’re worried about it, to ease their concerns, so they can see that it can be safer. There’s a lot more that we want to do. I’m still very keen to see what’s called the Chisholm Trail, which would essentially run along the railway line to the north of Cambridge down to the south. So it would provide more segregated routes, so that cyclists don’t have to compete with either pedestrians or with cars, and can get around safely and cleanly through Cambridge.
CHRIS MANN: What about those that have to rely on public transport that’s still not up to scratch?
JULIAN HUPPERT: Well you’re absolutely right about that, and sadly the County Council and the Conservative leadership there have cut the funding for that. And we have to do something about that, because while many people can walk and cycle and we need to make that easier, for many other people buses and public transport are the key things.
CHRIS MANN: I don’t think the County Council are responsible for the trains though, are they?
JULIAN HUPPERT: The County Council aren’t responsible for the trains, and it looks like we’re finally making progress with the new Chesterton station that I’ve been campaigning for, but buses are very important, people trying to get around.
CHRIS MANN: Well we won’t make progress on the A14 unless your Cambridge City Council, LibDem controlled, put money into that.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Well I’ve heard this said. I just don’t actually believe that that is actually the case. And I think one of the things that people in Cambridge have actually asked me is why is it that a nationally important road like the A14, which goes past Cambridge, why is it that people in Cambridge should pay through their City Council tax, which is £150 or so for a couple, plus through their County Council tax, plus through their national taxes, plus through the toll? That does seem a bit unreasonable.
CHRIS MANN: Just to show that it’s an interactive programme, on our Twitter account, @ChrisMannBBC just had a message saying “cycling groups unimpressed by the proposed junction change. Will remain a danger blackspot.” I think they’re talking about the Catholic Church junction there.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Indeed. It will help people who are coming from Hills Road. I think there’s no doubt about that. It will provide some benefit. I don’t think it’s a huge step change, which ideally, I said a few minutes ago, perhaps the County Council now they’ve got this extra money will be able to look and see can they tweak it, can they improve it, so that you do actually make a more significant change at that junction.
CHRIS MANN: Julian Huppert, Parliamentarian of the Month, MP for Cambridge, thank, you for joining me.