East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) is committed to improving the East Cambridgeshire strategic cycle and footpath network.
Although we are not responsible for delivering cycling and walking infrastructure, the Council understands that it is essential that the appropriate infrastructure is in place to make cycling and walking an attractive and safe alternative to driving. The Council recognises the health and wellbeing and environmental benefits of cycling and walking. In 2019, the Council passed a ‘climate change motion’, which declared a climate emergency and encourages modal shift away from vehicles towards cycling and walking which will help the Council to achieve its net zero carbon ambitions.
The District Council Corporate Plan 2021-2023 includes a promise to champion and improve the East Cambs strategic cycle and footpath network and a commitment to prioritise five cycle routes for feasibility exploration. To inform this work a public consultation was held in 2020 asking people to identify new cycling and walking routes which the Council could prioritise to complete gaps in the network, especially those that will encourage more local walking and cycling journeys to access places of education, employment, health care, public transport and essential services. A list of priority routes has been developed so that the Council has a set of schemes that are ready to submit when funding becomes available.
Via the consultation questionnaire, the Council also asked residents where they would like to walk or cycle to but cannot because the path is in disrepair, there is street clutter obstructing the footpaths or there is insufficient street lighting, or because there is no safe crossing point in the route. Supporting infrastructure such as cycle parking, adequate signage and promotion of existing routes are also needed to encourage people to cycle and walk.
The East Cambridgeshire Cycling and Walking Routes Strategy was adopted in November 2021.
Funding and Delivery
Delivery of the proposed cycling and walking network is reliant on the availability of external funding.
The Council prioritised five routes and commissioned Sustrans, the charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle, to produce feasibility studies which will give the Council a better understanding of the factors that need to be considered to deliver the cycle routes and an estimate of the cost.
Sustrans have also updated the construction costs for the remaining works to complete the Wicken to Soham cycle path included in the report they produced in 2013. This information was used to inform a successful bid by ECDC and Soham Town Council and secure CPCA Market Towns funding towards the delivery of the route.
Wicken to Soham Route feasibility Study.
Sustrans presented the reports to Councillors, Parish Councils and other stakeholders at a recent seminar. A copy of their presentations is available below:
ECDC has funded the Sustrans work as these studies are an important step forward in making the case for future investment as they will ensure that we have developed proposals to put forward when funding is announced. They also put the Council in a strong position during developer negotiations to ensure that new development is designed to support and deliver active travel measures.
The District Council will endeavour to obtain further funding for feasibility studies for other routes.
The Council will continue to work with partners to ensure our active travel infrastructure requirements are included in partner organisations policy documents such as the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Local Transport and Connectivity Plan, which is currently being refreshed, and the Cambridgeshire County Council Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) and Active Travel Strategy for Cambridgeshire.