‘It’s time to be bolder and braver in order to catch up with other cities’
Be bold and brave is the call to Peterborough City Council by Matthew Barber, head of partnerships (Midlands and East) at sustainable transport charity Sustrans.
A vocal critic of the Bridge Street cycling ban, Matthew believes Peterborough has been overtaken when it comes to having the best cycling infrastructure. He said: “Many towns and cities would love to have the network that we’ve got. But, if we’re trying to create an environment capital then we are relying too much on our existing, ageing network, and we are getting overtaken by other cities who are braver and bolder when it comes to putting down really high quality cycling infrastructure.”
More than anything, Matthew wants to see segregated cycle lanes put in, rather than the
painted lanes on roads such as Oundle Road and Park Road. These lanes would have kerbing on either side so cars could not come across into them and would make people less fearful about getting on their bikes. “Nottingham have a very good segregated scheme, as does Leicester. Chelmsford are looking to put a segregated scheme in,” he said.
“Whether it’s a psychological barrier, I think there’s a discussion to have around funding, but certainly there are barriers as to why Peterborough is not quite willing to make that step to say ‘actually, we’re going to go for the best practice, high quality piece of infrastructure’.”
Matthew accepts that the city council may not have much money to spend on cycling, but he feels more could be done to make it easier for people to travel into the city centre. “Crescent Bridge is a big problem. Town Bridge just doesn’t work for anyone at the moment,” he said.
As for Bridge Street, he wants a trial where the ban is lifted, or alternatively an “incredibly high quality route” created behind WH Smith and through the Barclays alleyway into Cathedral Square. Matthew believes Peterborough has a “reasonable” bus service but suffers slightly because there is only one operator in Stagecoach. He also thinks there is the potential to look at discouraging the use of cars, whether that be through the reallocation of road space, reducing parking spaces or increasing parking costs.” But, returning to cycling, which Matthew says is stagnating in popularity in Peterborough, there is the feeling at Sustrans that there is plenty more to do. He added: “Peterborough could be a shining light when it comes to cycling. We have all the right elements here. We need just need really strong leadership to make that happen.”