Our response to the Ely Station Gateway Development

We welcome that the station development mentions cycling and walking throughout the documents and that the survey documents recognise that the cycle network in Ely is piecemeal and often sub-standard to non-existant.

We wholly agree with the survey that much more needs to be done to encourage cycling in Ely, especially that an integrated network of segregated cycle lanes is required to encourage those who are currently not confident enough to cycle on Ely’s busy roads and that the city centre, the station and the residential and business areas need to be connected. We also agree that many towns and villages (e.g. Soham, Lt Downham, Prickwillow, Lt Thetford) are within cycling distance and that people are currently put off cycling by the lack of segregated cycle infrastructure and busy 60mph roads.

However, there currently seems to be a disconnect between the goals of encouraging cycling to the station and the actual plans of the development:

– Station Rd: We think Station Road should be closed for all traffic except cyclists and pedestrians. Buses and taxis should use the new access road via Tesco roundabaout. As there is a new station access road anyway, it doesn’t make sense to mix big buses and taxis with vulnerable people on bikes and there is no downside to buses and taxis using the main car access road. So keep motorised traffic to one road and people on the other.

– Shared pedestrian and cycle paths. They create conflict. Every single country in the world is moving away from shared paths. They don’t work. Separate pedestrians from cyclists. There is plenty of space for two separate lanes one for cyclists and one for pedestrians. It’ll be safer for everyone and therefore it’ll encourage more people to walk and cycle.

– Currently the plans show two shared paths to the station one leading along the river and one going round the back through the Dovehouse Close area (parallel to Back Hill). Considering the majority of station commuters will come from the north and west of Ely neither of these routes will be ideal. They are not direct and they won’t encourage cycling. Back Hill is the only direct alternative and we propose to make Back Hill one-way and to use the other lane for (two way) cycle lanes. If you want to make cycling and walking the preferred method of travel then you have to give cyclists the direct route and not make them go around the back via some detours. Make cars do the detour. Driving has to be the worse alternative then people will choose the easier alternative of walking and cycling. In the long-term these routes will have to link up with the rest of Ely. The odd cycle lane here and there won’t work. The whole journey by bike has to be safe and convenient otherwise people will drive.

– Shared space for residential developments. We are very concerned about this proposal as the shared space will quite likely become dominated by motor traffic and car parking. These areas should be redesigned with segregated pavements and cycle paths.

We hope you take our suggestions on board and we would be more than happy to discuss any questions you might have.

All planning documents and a link to the questionnaire can be found here:

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