Footpaths are becoming dangerous due to overgrowing vegetation, Cllr Olaf Hauk warns

29 Aug 2023

Lib Dem City Councillors are shocked that busy footpaths in Cambridge are dangerously overgrown with vegetation, at a time when many residents want to be out and about and despite the Council's strong commitment to active travel. 

Residents have repeatedly complained that they have to move onto cycle-paths or the road in order to avoid encroaching weeds, hedges or branches. 

Cllr Hauk says “I have heard many complaints about the west side of Trumpington Road, where long stretches of the footpath are unpassable due to encroaching vegetation. This is particularly dangerous for vulnerable residents like the elderly, the disabled or parents with children. The foot-path is next to a very busy cycle-lane where cyclists travel at high speed. It's an accident waiting to happen.”

In other areas, high vegetation can impede the view from and onto streets, making accidents more likely. 

The Council does not cut hedges during bird nesting season between March and July, as it is an offence to disturb nesting birds. However, a large part of the problem is caused by encroaching vegetation such as weeds, which could be removed at any time. Furthermore, bird nesting season ended in July. 

Cllr Hauk added “I would have expected the Council to cutback footpaths along “cycle highways” such as Trumpington Road straight-away once bird nesting season is over. This obviously hasn't happened, as several weeks later long stretches of the footpath are still unpassable. Vulnerable residents may decide to not walk at all when they find footpaths in this condition.”

“We are committed to protecting our biodiversity and wildlife wherever possible, as clearly laid out by the Council's biodiversity strategy. But in the case of overgrown footpaths, the safety of our residents must have highest priority. We urge the Council to find ways to keep these footpaths accessible throughout the year without disturbing wildlife, e.g. by moderate regular pruning rather than few radical cut-backs.”

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