Monday, 19 September 2016

Congestion Control Points

The City Deal hasn't been having an easy time of it recently. While most of the proposals (so far) have been concentrated in the north of the city (and I'll leave you to look up how those are progressing), there is one proposal that will have a big effect in the south - Congestion Control Points.

The basic idea is to stop cars getting into the city centre during the morning rush hour using ANPR cameras; there will be no physical barrier, but if you go through the cameras you'll be hit with a large fine. This will reduce the total amount of traffic in the city centre, as cars that don't go in the morning won't have to come out again in the evening.

The control points themselves would be on the three southern entrance roads - Hills Road, Mill Road, and Coldhams Lane, one on East Road, and two roads in the west of the city - Queen's Road and Grange Road.

While these will undoubtedly reduce traffic in the city centre itself, by simply banning all private cars, the scheme will cause problems elsewhere that make the whole idea seriously questionable.

Firstly, the City Deal's own analysis has said that the traffic will actually substantially increase on the roads just outside the control points - Coleridge Road, Cherry Hinton Road, sections of Mill Road, Brooks Road, Newmarket Road - which are right in the middle of big residential areas, with a consummate increase in pollution and and decrease in road safety (Mill Road is already questionable to cycle down at the best of times). And I suspect this will cancel out any improvements to bus times by reduced traffic in the city centre, as buses will have to use those roads as well.

Secondly, the control points are not an absolute barrier - there are ways round them, mostly using the already congested outer ring road. For commuters who are used to driving into Cambridge from further afield, a number of them will simply go round the control points - increasing the travel time, increasing the distance they drive, and moving more cars round the city. Or, alternatively, park just outside the control points and walk or take the bus (although, to be fair, the City Deal is also proposing a city-wide residents parking scheme. Given how controversial such local schemes are in my local area of Romsey and Coleridge, that proposal has its own issues to work though)

Thirdly, this will cause huge problems for local residents who need to go through the control points, while having absolutely no effect on those who don't. People who currently have no other choice but to drive across Mill Road bridge due to mobility issues, for example, will be well and truly stuffed (there is currently no exemption for blue badge holders), whereas people who have slightly different routes that dont go through the points will be completely unaffected. There are no exemptions, no allowances - you simply will not be able to drive across the bridge at peak times. At least, not without paying a hefty fine. But if your route doesn't go across the bridge, you will be completely unaffected (except for the increased traffic, of course).

There was another solution - congestion charging. Rather than singling out a few specific routes, this would simply apply across the whole city - reducing traffic wherever you were driving to, whilst still giving people the flexibility to drive just as they do now if they needed to. But that wasn't even put forward for consultation, leaving us with this ridiculous solution.

The proposals will definately decrease congestion in the city centre - which is the primary goal of the whole exercise, after all. But, just like the plans for Milton and Histon Roads, the proposals will have large negative effects for residents living in the area. The City Deal, yet again, suffers from a failure of imagination, and has simply gone for the simplest brute-force approach, without considering the effect on the local area and the rest of the city. This is simply not good enough.

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly what I have been thinking. I live at the city end of Coldhams Lane. I drive to NW Cambridge for work during morning rush hour. I use the ring road and there has been little traffic issue over the last 4 years.
    I think the proposal will create real problems for me.
    I think they need to look at why people are driving into the city - is it leisure or work?