Last week, I let a bit of steam out about the ridiculous Congestion Charge plans in Cambridge. But, unfortunately for Shona Johnstone, I’m not done with her case. The logic in her radio interview with Andie Harper is like Swiss cheese.
First, “I don’t think many people have appointments at Addenbrooke’s before 9:30am”. I’ve only looked at a few clinics’ opening hours and, while this is far from an exhaustive or scientific attempt at research, the first one, physiotherapy, opens at 8:15am. Shona: 0, The Rest Of Us: 1
Second, Councillor Johnstone seems to have an issue with London commuters. There’s no questioning that Cambridge, also known as the Silicon Fen, is full of life, brimming with successful and exciting businesses, startups in the Science Park and promising students, who often stay to work locally. There’s no brain drain conspiracy, and Cambridge is far from a commuter town. So Shona, take off the tin foil hat, it’s cute but you’re wrong. Shona: 0, The Rest Of Us: 2
This nicely brings me on to my suggested solutions…
Do not include Science Park and Park & Rides into the affected areas: I suspect the P&Rs aren’t going to be included, but based on the zoning map that’s been circulating, they’re not yet excluded clearly enough for my liking. As far as the Science Park goes, it would be completely and utterly bonkers to include it. The businesses settled there have selected it specifically for being on the edge of town, away from the city centre traffic. Staff won’t want to pay a fiver a day to get to work, and employers won’t want to cover the cost of roughly a thousand pounds per staff member. They’ll simply bugger off to Milton, taking their business out of Cambridge. That doesn’t strike me as a positive move for the city.
Improve transportation FIRST to see whether the situation alleviates: Currently, taking the P&R is a pain in the @$$; at peak hours, it’s so packed that you have to wait for the next one, which might not come for another half hour, for all you know! At other times, the entire P&R parking is full, forcing you to change your plans altogether and drive into town. So the logical first step is to invest in public transportation improvements, and make people more aware of the great service available. If it IS better than driving into Cambridge, dodging cyclists and swearing at the price of parking, we’ll do it. We won’t need to be coerced into it.
Finally, if the Congestion Charge must go ahead for the centre of town, give carpoolers an exemption. Anyone who makes an effort to reduce the number of cars on the road by sharing the journey to work, that should be recognised. In Ottawa, certain lanes are reserved for taxis and vehicles containing more than two people, giving carpoolers a valuable advantage over everyone else. That’s a far more positive way of encouraging public transportation and carpooling.
So hopefully, the councillors will see sense and reconsider the Congestion Charge plan, opting for positive reinforcement rather than ripping off the local community. If they don’t, I’ll get my protest hat on, and we’ll go have a little party on Shona’s doorstep, how about that?