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Metropolis vs robe and automobile vs bike: row erupts over Cambridge congestion plan | Transport coverage

In 1381, the college buildings have been looted and books have been burned within the metropolis sq., whereas shouting, “Abolish the instructing of scribes!” Extra lately, battle strains have been drawn over plans to construct homes on inexperienced belt land and efforts to ban unlawful swimming within the Cam river.

Now, the strain between city and robe is rising once more in Cambridge. This time, it has accomplished a proposal to introduce a £5 congestion cost on weekday automobile journeys into the town, with a public Parker’s Piece protest deliberate for November 27.

Those that dwell within the metropolis middle and primarily cycle or stroll, similar to college students and Cambridge dons, stand to learn vastly from the scheme. Others, similar to employees and households who must drive every single day, face prices of as much as £1,300 a yr per automobile.

Neil McArthur, vice-chairman of the Cambridgeshire Residents Group, which opposes the congestion cost, mentioned the proposal is “driving a wedge between the town and the robe”. “This city goes to be a ghost city and residents are actually involved about that,” he mentioned. “Though Cambridge’s pupil inhabitants and dons will not endure…they in all probability dwell and work within the metropolis, they’ll stroll or cycle in all places they need to go. The less automobiles within the metropolis for them, the higher.

site visitors load zone map

Automobile drivers – together with these dwelling throughout the boundaries of the proposed zone, which stretches round three miles from the town middle – must pay £5 when going into, out of or inside Cambridge between 7am and 7pm on weekdays, though reductions can be found. proposed for low earnings households and blue badge holders.

The physique behind the proposal, the Larger Cambridge Partnership (GCP) – made up of native councils, universities and enterprise representatives – hopes the payment will fund “vital” enhancements to native bus providers and cycle routes, growing biking journeys by as much as 60,000. a day.

It believes the measures will scale back congestion and air air pollution. Public well being information discovered that, in 2020 alone, 48 deaths in Cambridge may very well be attributed to particulate air air pollution.

“We all know we now have an air high quality downside within the metropolis centre, and that transport is a significant contributor to native carbon emissions,” mentioned Peter Blake, GCP’s director of transport.

If all public transport, biking and strolling enhancements within the GCP proposal are applied, together with the congestion cost, it should scale back site visitors in Cambridge by 50%, he mentioned.

Bus journey to and across the metropolis may also be cheaper, extra dependable and extra frequent, Blake mentioned. “Basically, we all know that, should you’re on a decrease earnings, you’ll be able to’t afford to dwell in Cambridge,” he mentioned. The proposal would deliver bus fares within the metropolis to £1 per journey. “Presently, some bus providers are very costly – and 30% of the poorest households in our area should not have entry to a automobile.”

Supporters of the proposal consider it should enhance the town’s poor air high quality, in addition to scale back site visitors by 50%. Photograph: Antonio Olmos / The Observer

GCP chief govt Rachel Stopard mentioned: “Cambridge is likely one of the most unequal cities and what we’re attempting to do is make it a extra equal metropolis.”

However McArthur is livid that the college, a non-voting statutory companion of the GCP, sits on the chief board that makes the proposal – whereas citizen teams like his don’t. “It is clearly a metropolis driving robe, not the opposite means round. That is it.” [the university] have a big affect on what’s proposed and authorized, whatever the wants of the residents. “

A Cambridge College spokesman mentioned: “The College understands the necessity for daring motion to make sure that site visitors is managed extra successfully in our metropolis areas, which have among the worst congestion within the UK.”

He mentioned the college was nonetheless contemplating the small print of the proposal, however it was incorrect to counsel that the congestion cost wouldn’t have an effect on its employees, as practically 70% of its workforce lives exterior the town and has to commute to work every single day.

Analysis final yr discovered the price of a home in Cambridge was virtually 12 instances the native common wage, making it one of many most cost-effective locations to dwell within the UK.

Whereas the town remains to be residence to most college college students and lots of Cambridge endowments are wholesome, the lowest-paid employees in lots of Cambridge faculties earn lower than the actual dwelling wage and a few faculty supervisors work as little as £5 an hour.

Introducing congestion costs may scale back metropolis automobile site visitors by as much as 33%, analysis by Sweden’s Lund College Middle for Sustainability Research reveals, and has been hailed as successful in London, lowering journey instances, accidents and automobile emissions.

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