Living in the villages outside of Cambridge and working in the city centre poses a daily conundrum, the volume of traffic heading in towards the city means that cars park in queues at various pinch points and the only way to avoid an extended commute is to set off earlier than necessary or find an alternative form of transport.
I’m an active person, and I race through the summer months in various endurance events. I'm lucky enough to have changing facilities at work, so I try to cycle in to Cambridge most days. I have lost count of the number of times that my cycle commute has left me exposed and vulnerable sharing roads that are not designed to accommodate lorries, buses, cars and bicycles all at once. The cycle paths that we do have are mostly in poor condition, strewn with uneven ironworks, ruts and broken Tarmac , often they jump between road and pavement where the intrepid cyclist must contend with errant greenery and pedestrians are put at risk by being forced to share a narrow path with cycles.
The recent improvements to the cycle lanes on Madingley road are welcome, if limited, but inevitably these kind of improvements don’t stretch to the communities further out. The roads from Elsworth to Cambourne, down the old A428 and on through Hardwick are in a dreadful condition and make for an uncomfortable and exposed cycle. If elected I would dedicate myself to putting pressure on the district and county council to invest in improvements to cycle ways connecting the outer villages to Cambridge and equally importantly, to each other. A proper, coordinated plan to connect up the outer villages would make cycling more attractive, and for many a more realistic option that would benefit the health of individuals. It would have an added benefit for everyone in the community by reducing the number of cars on the road.
I am of course very lucky to have the option of cycling open to me, this is not possible for many people nor is it particularly pleasant in the winter! It is essential that South Cambridgeshire has a reliable and frequent public transport service that is affordable and convenient. Again, the park and ride is a great benefit, but it is of little value for the young people in Papworth and Elsworth ward who cannot easily get to the outskirts of the city under their own steam. Were I to be elected I would work with other councillors to put pressure on the private bus providers to improve the frequency and reliability of their services and reduce their prices. The individuals that run the network make a choice, they can make a profit by overcharging a few customers on half empty busses, or make a profit by providing a service people can trust and rely on, redesignate the outer villages as “in area” and hence fill the busses and allow everyone access to the cultural, historical, sporting and educational heritage that Cambridgeshire has to offer.
I am passionate about finding ways to improve local transport links and if I'm elected I would make it my priority to influence policy in this area to benefit our communities.
Darren Macey, is the Labour candidate for Papworth and Elsworth in the district council elections on May 5. Visit his Facebook page here.