arbury road modal filter - FAQ

This page is a list of FAQ about the proposed trial modal filter on Arbury Road, as part of the Government Active Travel funding.

1. Why is this being proposed?

There are two answers to this: the reason the Government has provided funding, and the local reasons for this road.

The Government have provided funding to make social distancing more possible in relatively confined areas (for example by reallocating road space to pedestrians); to make walking and cycling more attractive to combat the reduced capacity of public transport. A good summary is available here.

On a more local level, discussions around improving road safety, reducing pollution and making the environment better at this end of Arbury Road have been happening since at least 2017.

2. What is a modal filter, what is being proposed?

The proposal/intention for Arbury Road is not a 'block' as such, but a camera controlled 'gate' (the terminology is a little unhelpful as it isn't a physical gate). This allows for the movement of eg buses through it, and so doesn't have quite such the harsh effect that a physical block has (although there are downsides). Note a physical block is a different type of modal filter.

3. Where is it being put?

This isn't decided yet, but the two locations that have been discussed are just north of Leys Road and further north near the school.

4. How will this affect emergency service vehicle access?

Emergencies services will be allowed through so will not be effected.

5. Won't this just displace traffic elsewhere?

There is evidence that such interventions actually reduce the overall level of traffic rather than simply displace - some people will take different ways to get to where they are going, and/or stop making trips which may not be necessary. This isn't true in all cases, so only doing it as a trial initially will show us what the effect is. 

This effect is called "traffic evaporation" - see for example: ; quoting from the report (my bold):

"While the SACTRA report showed that building new roads often does generate new traffic, the Cairns et al report – using a series of detailed case studies of road capacity reductions from across the world – showed the converse to be true. Case-by-case outcomes vary substantially, but in many cases, when you reduce road capacity, existing motor traffic doesn’t all just find another route. Some of it ‘disappears’, or ‘evaporates’."

See also

6. My journey will just take longer - isn't that bad for congestion?

See 4, but if traffic levels overall decrease, then the remaining journeys will of course be improved as there will be less congestion.

7. Won't some people lose out? In particular what about those with protected characteristics?

There will be disruption for some people: any change like this is a balancing act between negatives and positives. Less traffic means a safer street (there have been some nasty injuries recently) and improved air quality.

8. Won't this negatively impact on disabled people?

Disability is a wide spectrum of conditions.

Clearly, people who rely on private car use to get through where the modal filter will be placed will be impacted, with the caveat of answers 4/5.

Low and lower traffic neighbourhoods are a great positive for those with mental health conditions; physical health conditions such as asthma benefit from less congestion; people with hearing disabilities also benefit similarly.

Ian is trying to work with officers to develop a scheme whereby blue badge holders and blue badge holders using taxis coudl be allowed through a modal filter.

9. What consultation has been done?

There has been extensive consultation locally by Cllr Manning and others; a quick breakdown (with personal details removed):

2020-11-26: Potential follow up meeting (waiting on responses)

2020-09-28: Ian ran an Arbury Road Metrics meeting with RA invites + other interested residents. Doc coming out of it:

2020-09-09: Chesterton/Arbury Labour party Councillors organised meeting being negative about it. Lib Dem Cllr Jamie Dalzell attended. 

2020-09-04: North area committee. Havenfield resident came to speak.

The section on Arbury Road starts at 01:32:00.  Cllr Ian Manning Ian speaks at 01:49:25.

2020-08-11 Public open online meeting

2020-07-21 member/officer meeting re North Cambridge closures - officers and Cllr Ian Manning, Cllr Mike Sargeant, Cllr Scutt

2020-07-15 Ian discussed with the deacon of Arbury Baptist Church

2020-07-08 Ian attended (virtually) ARERA committee meeting

2020-07-02 online call with local businesses (in Chesterton Division)

2020-06-25 Ian contacted the Arbury road businesses and the Church to alert them and offer a meeting

2020-06-14 Meeting with ARERA, HPERA and Havenfield representative. Agreed to consider two locations - north of keys, south of Havenfield and further up near the Sikh temple.

2020-05-30 - Met AREA committee 2020-05-29 with of their committee, West Chesterton City Councillors and Arbury County Councillor. General agreement around having a road block somewhere north of Leys Avenue. Cllr Scutt to query with City Cllrs in Arbury.

2019-12-26 - Ian pressed for trialing techniques to be the only way something will go ahead.

2019-09-05 - Item at North Area Committee. Ian worked to ensure wider public participation and added anyone interested could come along.

2019-08-07 - Ian met with Havenfield residents (was also to discuss Parking scheme, and wider concepts for road)

Post 2019-07-11 - Ian had conversations with Havenfield staff member. This lead to meeting.

Public meeting 2019-07-11 .Hurst park Residents' Association and Arbury Road residents informed. West Chesterton Councillors and Cllr Scutt (County, Arbury) invited.

2019-07-23 Arbury Road FAQ, St Laurence's Church Hall

Ian spoke to Hurst Park RA Chair 2019-06-19 - agreed to meet with him + HPERA on 2019-06-27 and have two from Arbury residents along.

Ian Meeting met some Arbury Residents 2019-06-18 

2018-02 to end 2018 - number of conversations with residents when door knocking about the road, the non completion of the cycleways started at the Kings Hedges end. This also included work on the potential configurations of parking schemes for the wider area which were happening at the same time.

10. How does the trial work? How long will it last?

Under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, the trial can last a maximum of 18 months; within this time changes can be made, but any instance has to be in place for at least 6 months if you are going to consider making anything permanent in the future. The trial can be stopped at any time so it is important to stress both the 18month and 6 month timescales are maximums.

11. How can I be involved?

At the moment Cllr Ian Manning ([email protected]) is running the informal consultation detailed above and continues to. Please contact him directly.

12. Why can't something else be tried?

The Government funding comes with restrictions on what it can be spent on. Specifically Councils were asked to come up with plans that "significantly reallocating road space", although Government messaging has become quite confused on this over time.

In other words, there are other options (a idea of a permanent block has been rejected early on due to the lack of flexibility) but certain things cannot be done with this funding, for example standard traffic calming measures like speed bumps.

13. What stage are these proposals at?

The Government Active Travel funding was split into two tranches.

At County Council Highways & Transport Committee on the 15th September, in principle agreement for a list of schemes to be considered under tranche 2 of the funding was agreed - see direct link to item and the decision summary.

Consultants appointed by the County to support the programme and officers are currently working through the list of schemes, in order to pull together potential consultation and/or implementation dates so there is no firm date for Arbury Road right now.

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