Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Welcome David Campbell-Bannerman MEP

David Campbell-Bannerman

Welcome to David Campbell-Bannerman MEP who today has returned to the Conservative Party from the UK Independence Party of which he was formerly chairman.

Mr Campbell-Bannerman will join the East of England's excellent team of Conservative MEPs, Geoffrey Van Orden, Vicky Ford and Robert Sturdy and sit with the only practical and effective Conservative grouping in the European Parliament that opposes ever-greater political integration, the European Conservatives and Reformists.

It is well known that UKIP MEPs are often absent and fail to stand up for British interests in the European parliament.

UPDATE: David comments on his own move on the Blue Blog and Cambridge Conservative Deputy Chairman Timothy Haire welcomes David as a new member of Cambridge Conservatives.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Coleridge Labour's own Mr Busway?

On this post-election Saturday morning while waiting to see if there's any news coverage of today's Rally against Debt, here's a fun snippet from the past pointed out to me by ex-Lib Dem activist Phil Rodgers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Coleridge Result

Well done to Labour's Cllr Jeremy Benstead for winning Coleridge yesterday in the city council election.

Thank you to all the enthusiastic supporters in Coleridge - sorry we didn't delivery a victory this time. And thank you to everyone who helped in any way, particularly Tim and Chris.

Jeremy Benstead, Labour, 1346, 47%
Andrew Bower, Conservative, 869, 30%
Valerie Hopkins, Green, 368, 13%
Tom Yates, Lib Dem, 285, 10%

Now off to the Guildhall to scrutinise the referendum count. Enjoy the sun!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cambridge Cycling Campaign Survey

Each year the Cambridge Cycling Campaign runs a survey of election candidates on their views on cycling matters relevant to their potential role as councillors. I think this is an excellent idea and am always keen to take part.

My answers are reproduced below. My apologies to anyone who was looking for them earlier when I hadn't yet submitted them.

# Question 1

Our new Cycling Vision 2016 report, available on our website and as featured in the local media recently, outlines a range of proposals for increasing the rate of cycling in the area. Do you give Cycling Vision 2016 your backing, and what are you most keen to see implemented?

The vision is an impressive report. A core of high quality cycling backbones across the city would really make a big difference. Some of the junction improvements are badly needed.

I also like the idea of removing substandard cycle lanes - we need all road users to be fully aware that cyclists do belong on the highway and not on substandard cycle lanes.

# Question 2

There is a major shortage of cycle parking all around the city. Cycle theft is over 10% of all reported crime in the County. Do you have any suggestions for locations for cycle parking? Would you be willing to see a very small proportion of on-street car parking being replaced by on-street cycle parking in your ward? How will you work towards a situation where every resident and every worker in every ward can keep a bike safe?

I do support this idea. I think it is particularly relevant to neighbouring wards, such as Petersfield and Romsey around pubs, shops and terraced houses practically fronting the highway and in the city centre. Kingston Street’s cycle parking is an excellent example, albeit insufficient! I am not sure where in Coleridge the take-up would be quite so high (except from cycling canvassers of course!) but would be interested in any suggestions.

In critical areas it may also be worth converting the odd verge for this purpose - perhaps one that is already mutilated by car parking.

I would like to see more rigorous enforcement by city council planners of our minimum cycle parking standards for developments.

See my blog for further comments on cycle parking and theft:


# Question 3

Do you support our view that traffic policing (including fining of cyclists without lights or using pedestrian-only pavements) should become a greater police priority?

I do support this view.

I campaigned for proper police enforcement of speeding on problem roads in the area, including holding police officers to account at the council’s East Area Committee. I persuaded my colleague who was Conservative councillor to get police enforcement of speeding made a priority in our area, which was eventually successful despite being opposed by councillors from different parties all along the way.

One of the advantages of using police to enforce speed limits is that they can also tackle other motoring and cycling offences at the same time.


I organised a survey of bicycles on Mill Road over a couple of nights to gauge the extent of the problem of cycling without lights and found that 50% of lights were missing. I achieved some publicity as a result of this survey and consequently found police paying attention to the problem. It is important that policing of cycling is not just confined to a token annual check on Sidney Street.




We should be trying to increase the total amount of policing by cutting out police bureaucracy, doing more patrols individual rather than in pairs and allowing the public to elect no-nonsense police chiefs directly, something I am delighted to note that the new government is planning.

Cycle offences such as riding in the dark without lights and using pedestrian-only pavements, which intimidates pedestrians, should be taken more seriously. I think the prevalence of shared-use footpaths as part of a box-ticking culture towards cycling provision has created uncertainty and led many to assume that cycling on footpaths is always permitted.

# Question 4

We believe that 20mph should be the norm for local streets in residential areas (as distinct from main connecting roads). 20mph would: greatly encourage walking and cycling; improve the quality of life in an area for residents; and would not delay car journeys significantly (because only the start/end of a journey would be affected). Do you agree that 20mph should become the norm for local streets in Cambridge and surrounding villages?

I certainly agree that many such streets in our area are not suitable for higher speeds (over 20mph) most of the time. It is worth reading speed reports for places like Mill Road - most of the traffic was already limiting itself to this speed most of the time. We shall have to see if anything actually happens about those who used to go too fast now that the 20mph speed limit is in place there...

However, I do think the obsession with 20mph zones detracts from wider arguments about safety and by being unnecessarily broad in cases can undermine support for traffic restrictions. Safety measures should certainly be deployed for safety reasons only, not social engineering.

# Question 5

There have not been enough cycle stands at the station for at least a decade now. Given the level of cycle theft, congestion and growth in the city, what steps will you take to solve this and in what timescale?

I support the cycling campaign's continued pressure on railway companies to release parking spaces for cycles at the station. But this should not be the only avenue as the financial incentives may not be aligned there to see action... Regular removal of unused cycles is also important but also cannot be seen as a panacea. New developments nearby really should have been required to include much more cycle parking with them - we must not allow that to happen again.

# Question 6

Will you give your active support to the proposal to construct a proper cycle path linking Ashbury Close to Golding Road?

I have already given active support to this proposal:


I have put the case strongly to local residents as to how the scheme is a good one but in final decision making I will only support the scheme if we have been successful in gaining the support of local residents when it eventually goes to consultation. They have to live with the consequences either way.

# Question 7

Do you support our proposal for 'The Chisholm Trail', a cycling super-highway that would run roughly along the railway, joining up the Science Park to Addenbrookes? More details are in our Cycling Vision 2016 document. This high-profile scheme would cut journey times, give people a genuine, realistic alternative to car use and help the city cope with the population increase which will take place in the coming years.

I do support the Chisholm Trail and would do what I could to get rail companies and any other relevant bodies to facilitate the scheme.

The Conservative-controlled county council is open to the idea of the trail and Cambridge Conservatives have supported it for many years.

# Question 8

Do you have any other general cycling-related comments or points? And what support have you given for cycling and walking, or sustainable transport more generally, in the recent past?

Cycling has been my primary mode of transport for many years.

I have promoted cycling with lights, defensive cycling, the need to open up what I call value-added cycle paths (not the same as a splash of white paint on the road/pavement) which open up new options for cyclists, adequately sized cycle lanes (many in the city are not) and have campaigned to get speeding vehicles under control.

I oppose road measures that make life more difficult for cyclists, such as road humps. I have been sceptical of the culture in government of painting white lines on the road or sharing pavements and calling that a cycling facility. Cyclists need to feel confident cycling on the main highway, through promotion, law enforcement and training.

I recently wrote some notes about commuter cycling in Cambridge: