Monday, January 19, 2015

Say yes to the New Chesterton Foot and Cycle Bridge

The distinctly anonymous ‘Friends of Ditton Meadows’ has been setup to ‘To protect Ditton Meadows from the current threat of development, namely the proposed cycle and foot bridge across the meadow.’ They have other objectives like ‘To oppose the talked about guided bus-way across the meadows’ and ‘To oppose any development on the meadows in the future.’ But as nobody is planning a busway or other development, it’s fair to say their main aim is opposition to a new cycle/footbridge across the common.

So what is planned? Fingers crossed, a new station will open in Chesterton in 2016. A new cycle and footbridge next to the existing railway bridge is being planned to link the common with the new station. The County Council has been and continues to consult residents on this project.

What impact will this have on the common? There are lots of pretty pictures of Ditton Meadows on their website - but not a single view pictured will change as a result of the proposed new bridge. That’s because it will occupy a tiny proportion of the common, and will only ever be visible with the backdrop of a not particularly picturesque railway bridge. I’m struggling to see how anyone can seriously oppose this on the grounds of its impacts to the commons as these are negligible.

However, not building the new bridge will be really BAD NEWS for lots of reasons. It will stop lots of residents of Abbey Ward and Fen Ditton from easily accessing the new station by foot and cycle (or at all!) – losing them much of the economic benefits. Some will drive, further clogging up Newmarket Road and Chesterton. Others will take the approx 1 mile detour over the Green Dragon bridge – like it isn’t already busy enough at peak hours. Fellow Chesterton residents will also miss out on a more convenient new route to Abbey, Fen Ditton and ultimately to the Mill Road area, Station and Addenbrookes, when the Chisholm Trail is built.

I hope our elected representatives will be supportive of the new bridge, but it would be a disaster if a few vocal opponents were able to block a vital part of the sustainable transport infrastructure needed in a growing Cambridge. Please don’t just rely on them to make the right decision – write to them today (you can use the website to find and contact your local Councillors) and urge them to make sure this bridge happens.

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