Ely Traffic and Environment Study Stakeholder Workshops

Yesterday were the district council meetings to discuss the £500k of Sainsbury’s S106 money, it was all quite positive from our point of view.

The afternoon session started with some interesting statistics in the opening presentation:

  • The percentage of cyclists in the city centre is 1% compared to 21% pedestrians. Even (in my view) very car centric Huntingdon has 3% cyclists!
  • Back Hill/ Broad Street is an ‘black spot’ with 11 accidents in the last 5 years, 7 of which involved cyclists.

We were then split into discussion groups 4 of 7-8 people and swapped groups half way.

My first group was about cycling and we discussed some issues that were raised during the on-line consultation and we discussed solutions. The other people in my group were from the Ely Society and various council people (cycle officer, highway engineer).
At the end we put together a top 5 of priorities and I managed to get all our main projects on the list (20mph speed limit,Back Hill/Broad Street, signage, parking).

The 20mph speed limit was everyone’s favourite and even though some issues were raised, e.g. it should be self enforcing which might be a problem on straight roads such as Lisle Lane and Downham Road.

However, the idea of a one way system (with two way cycle lane) was the only that not everyone supported (understandably) as it would increase traffic on the High Street and increase car journey times. So we compromised and named our item vaguely ‘Back Hill/ Broad Street improvements’.

Patrick Joyce the county cycling officer pushed for improvements on Lisle Lane especially as through route to the station from the new planned area by the hospital. Which I didn’t fully support (I don’t think it’ll be used as a through route much – much more likely people will cycle down Lynn Road and Back Hill), but I compromised and we put it on the list in the end.

Cycle parking and signs were also supported even in the other discussion groups (without cyclists). And some good points were raised such as spread out parking is better than one central parking hub.

My second group was about improving Lisle Lane/ Fore Hill/ Broad Lane and we had a lady from Lisle Lane, someone from the train company, Ely Society and council. Most of the discussion focused on increased traffic and parking on Lisle Lane and Broad Street.

I managed to get 20mph speed limit on top of our list again with Broad Street/ Back Hill improvements second. I didn’t push for cycle lanes on Lisle Lane as this hasn’t come up during any of our discussions so far.

The train company rep had some interesting info on the bypass and he thought that an underpass would be very unlikely because of the cost and inconvenience of having to close the station (which apparently hasn’t been taken into account in any of the alternative plans). So a bypass seems the most likely option.

They also seem to have a lot of improvements for the station planned, for example more and better parking, possibly cycle hire schemes (Ely and Cambridge), improvements to the forecourt etc. They are setting up a new forum and he invited us to join. Would be good if someone who uses the station regularly would represent us.

Generally all suggestions from all groups seemed quite good and even if it’s not cycling specific (e.g. pedestrianising the High Street) we can still send input later to make sure the situation won’t be worse for cyclists than before and many things (remove some on street parking/ illegal parking on Fore Hill) should benefit us as well.

The evening session started with the same presentation.

There were fewer attendees and so only 2 groups again of around 7-8 people. My group included a member of City of Ely Council, and representatives from Ely Traders, Sustrans and Greater Anglia (the Train Company).

The first of my sessions was on cycling and pedestrian issues and there was a lot of support for a 20mph speed limit. There were issues raised about enforcement and whether it required traffic calming measures, but in principle it was seen as a good idea.

I raised the Back Hill to the Station idea and this was also well received and the Back Hill/ Broad Street junction was on a lot of peoples improvement ideas.Our group went further and were very supportive of a clockwise one-way system around the Cathedral (High St -> Fore Hill -> Broad St -> Back Hill -> Gallery).

The idea of improved signage also got a lot of support.

The one thing that was challenged was additional parking, as it was claimed that the current parking was under used (ie not full all of the time) so there is still some work to do there. On the issue of cycle parking near Waitrose it was pointed out that that area including the Cloisters is owned by Waitrose and isn’t Council controlled.

My second session was about motor traffic improvements and several things cropped up from the first discussion including the one-way system idea. Other things mentioned included:

  • removing the parking bays on high street, this was quite widely supported apart from the Ely Traders Association.
  • altering the taxi ranks on market street.
  • making market street taxi/bus only.
  • changing culture – need to decide is Ely car friendly or alternative transport friendly.
  • using the market square for taxis or bus stops or car parking – I opposed this.
All in all it was a very positive meeting and I came away feeling there was a lot of support for real change that would improve Ely for cycling.


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