Azara Blog: Cambridge now wants to close down Victoria Avenue and Maid's Causeway

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Date published: 2006/04/14

The Cambridge Evening News says:

People are being asked to have their say on plans to stop motorists using two streets as a rat run.

Residents asked Cambridgeshire County Council to look at Maid's Causeway and Victoria Avenue in Cambridge after traffic levels rose in the streets.

The two roads were the only ones inside the inner ring road not to be included in the council's core scheme - an initiative to improve safety and reduce through-traffic in Cambridge's city centre.

But now the scheme has been extended to include the streets.

Traffic monitoring suggested up to 60 per cent of the 15,000 vehicles using Maid's Causeway and Victoria Avenue each day are just travelling through the area.

The county council is now asking residents to choose between three options for the area.

Option A is to introduce a parttime tidal closure similar to the one which operates in Silver Street. This would remove traffic and improve air quality in the area but would push more traffic into using Elizabeth Way and Chesterton Road.

Option B would see the route stay open to vehicles but some form of traffic management scheme would be adopted.

The final choice - option C - is to do nothing.

The "dead tree" version of the story, in the Town Crier, also says:

Cllr Julian Huppert, chairman of the Cambridge traffic management area joint committee, said: "... This next stage will look at addressing streets that are being used as rat runs as a result of changes elsewhere".
Leaflets will be delivered to those directly affected by the plans.

The Cambridge ruling elite are not very bright, and this, the latest of their crackpot transport planning, is a perfect example. Huppert himself admits the increased traffic on Victoria Avenue is due to "changes elsewhere" introduced by, you guessed it, the Cambridge ruling elite. The algorithm seems to be:

  1. Ask the residents of a road whether anybody else should be allowed to use it (gee whiz, what do you suppose the answer is)
  2. Promise a wider consultation, but of course at the same time denigrate anybody who dares to use the relevant roads as "rat runners"
  3. Ignore what anybody says unless they support the proposal (and of course the middle class, especially the cycling lobby and residents on the roads concerned, stuff the ballot boxes)
  4. Close the road (of course)
  5. Stare in amazement as the road traffic diverts around the closure so the problems move elsewhere (well, at least in this case they admit this will be exactly the consequence)
  6. Go back to step 1 (hey, a job for life for transport planners)

Needless to say, Victoria Avenue gets a lot more traffic than it used to because the council closed down Bridge Street in 1997. The only way to get to the Park Street car park now is via either Victoria Avenue or Maid's Causeway. So if the city brilliantly selects option A (and on past form that is what will happen) then they might as well close down the Park Street car park and stop taking the piss.

There are four road crossings of the Cam in Cambridge: Elizabeth Way, Victoria Avenue, Silver Street and Fen Causeway. A couple of years ago the Cambridge ruling elite partly closed down Silver Street. Now they are almost certainly going to do the same to Victoria Avenue. Yes, the Cambridge ruling elite think the people who live west and north of the river are scum, and want to keep them out of the city. How dare the peasants cross the river and spoil the life of the rich.

You have to love the touch that "leaflets will be delivered to those directly affected by the plans". This is completely incorrect. Leaflets are only going to be delivered to those people who live or work in the immdediate area. Tens of thousands of other people who are directly affected by the plans (because they use Victoria Avenue and/or Maid's Causeway) will not be receiving leaflets. That is, a small minority will receive the leaflets (those who will nominally benefit), the vast majority will not (those who will definitely lose out). This is one way to make sure the consulation is biased.

This kind of consulation is also typical of the "cult of the selfish" that dominates current political life. Most current politicians (certainly the Lib Dems who run Cambridge) seem to believe that if a small (usually middle class, i.e. rich) group of people object to other people using the roads in front of their houses then the roads should be closed, so that society as a whole is held hostage by the rich few. These politicians might as well quote the Thatcher doctrine that "there is no such thing as society", since society obviously counts for nothing, relative to the selfish views of a few.

Needless to say, the council does not even define what it means by "through traffic". If you take the definition literally, then 99% of traffic on Victoria Avenue must be through traffic, because there are no buildings on Victoria Avenue south of the river (well, people are allowed to park cars there on Sundays, but that hardly counts). Victoria Avenue is a city artery, it is supposed to be a through road. Why is it that the council believes that "through" traffic is evil but "non-through" traffic is not? After all, even "non-through" traffic must have gone through some other road (unless the journey is ridiculously short). If people on Histon Road were as rich as the people on Maid's Causeway, no doubt some day we would be hearing that Histon Road is a "rat run" which should be closed to "through traffic". And similarly Milton Road, Hungtingdon Road (where the rich are already biasing the A14 transport policy of the local council, but have not yet managed to get the road closed down), etc.

Ironically Victoria Avenue is one of the best roads in Cambridge to cycle down, there is absolutely no problem with cars because the road is fairly wide (there is a small problem with buses because cyclists have to share a lane with them when heading northbound). Indeed, if you are heading to the south of the city from the north on a bicycle, given the choice between Histon Road and Victoria Avenue, for reasons of scenery and safety you would far and away prefer to cycle down Victoria Avenue. You can guarantee that no matter what the Cambridge ruling elite do, they will make the road worse for cyclists. (They already have recently by making the two pedestrian traffic lights along the road last much longer than they used to.)

Unfortunately, until Blair is removed from office, Cambridge seems to be stuck with the Lib Dems lording over the town. Some day we will be emancipated.

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